Cottoning on (iii)

Over the last couple of days I’ve been sharing some of the lost jobs and occupations of people in the past – people who spent their lives working in the cotton mills (factories) of Oldham and other parts of Lancashire. The reason there were so many mills in the area was geographical – being on the west side of the country the air was more moist and it was better to spin raw cotton fibres into thread.

Here are the last words I shared yesterday:

  1. setter on – another name for a doffer – remember the doffer?
  2. sizer – sizing is to treat thread or fabric to make it stronger – in this case with a starchy glue
  3. slasher – the machine and person who does the sizing
  4. stripper and grinder – whatever your thoughts, he was a maintenance engineer
  5. tackler – someone who sets up the machinery to begin
  6. tenter – it just means someone who looks after any machinary
  7. throstle spinner – it actually does have something to do with thrushes; a throstle was a machine named after a throstle because of the noise it made (thrushes do have the sweetest song, so maybe this was a nice job!). A throstle in the cotton mill was a type of spinning machine
  8. twister – someone joins the ends of the new thread together with what was already on the loom to make longer threads – interestingly, it was often done by disabled people because it was done sitting down
  9. warper – do you remember what a beamer was? Well a warper is the same as a beamer
  10. OK… just to rmind you, a doffer loads and unloads bobbins, a beamer is the gigantic bobbin

and the link again:

http://www.andrewalston.co.uk/cottonindustryjobs.html

The mill in my featured image is not a cotton mill but a saw mill

Cottoning on (ii)

Yesterday I mentioned the unusual names of jobs in the nineteenth century cotton spinning industry, and set a little quiz about what the jobs actually were… here are the answers…

  1. beamer/beam twister/beam warper – hundred of cones of cotton thread need to be loaded onto the beam, ready for weaving -the beam is a giant bobbin.
  2. crofter – I was nearly right with the idea of a croft, but it’s not for cows, it’s to spread the cloth after bleaching or dying
  3. doffer – someone who loads and unloads bobbins (puts empty bobbins into the machine to receive the thread)
  4. fly -maker – an engineer who makes the fly which is part of the spinning machine mechanism
  5. masher-up – someone who works in the bleach room
  6. mule-spinner – someone who operates a spinning ‘mule’, the equipment on which the cotton is spun into thread
  7. scutcher – someone who separates  the cotton fibres from the seeds of the raw cotton

Did you get them all right? Here are some more, with my facetious suggestions:

  1. setter on                      – obviously someone who sets something on (maybe to do with the tea making, see masher above!)
  2. sizer                               – the person who checks what size something is
  3. slasher                           – security
  4. stripper and grinder    – I’m not even going to hazard a guess
  5. tackler                           – someone who’s given all the difficult jibs to do
  6. tenter                            – in a cotton mill they might have a side-line in making tents
  7. throstle spinner            – a throstle is a thrush… so someone who looks after the throstles?
  8. twister                           – a Lancashire tornado
  9. warper                            – someone with one leg shorter than the other

… and here is a link:

http://www.andrewalston.co.uk/cottonindustryjobs.html