1800s – Life in the Mills

Map from 1854 showing Mill Port Factory building, next to site of old MillPort.
Map from 1854 showing Mill Port Factory building circled, next to site of old MillPort.
1854 Town Map Mill Port Factory location detail
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Established in 1825, the Mill Port Spinning Mill was powered by water and steam. They were commended for good working conditions, however we might not think so today, with long hours starting at 5:30am and finishing 7:30pm on weekdays, and 4:30pm on Saturday.

Map from 1854 showing Mill Port Factory building, next to site of old MillPort.
1854 Town Map Mill Port Factory location detail
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Mill was visited by Inspectors of the Royal Commission on the Employment of Children in 1833. An Inspector reported:

“I observed two girls for some time in Mr Malcolm’s mill, (aged) about thirteen each, in the same pass or space between two frames; one attended to sixty wet spindles or the spinning of sixty threads of yarn of five ounces to the hank, the other to fifty spindles. The first had 11d [pence] the other 10d [pence] a day….It is quite impossible to give an adequate notion of the quickness and dexterity with which these girls joined their broken ends of threads; shifted the pirns; screwed and unscrewed the flies etc. To supply the place of such artists by new adult hands would be utterly impractible, and difficult in the extreme to find a relay of hands equally expert, under present circumstances. There is no sameness of attitude – no standing still; every muscle is in action and that in quick succession.”

The Mill was converted to a lodging house by the end of the century and demolished in 1900.

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