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Using all the evidence available to you do you agree that like many of the cotton factory owners in the North-West the Greg's treated their apprentices badly?

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Introduction

Styal Mill. Question 3 Using all the evidence available to you do you agree that like many of the cotton factory owners in the North-West the Greg's treated their apprentices badly? When looking at whether apprentices at Styal mill were treated badly we must look at certain factors at the time such as lodging, education, health, punishment and food. Styal mill was a rural mill and in general rural mills had better conditions than urban mills such as Manchester and London. The Greg family also had a good reputation in the industry and therefore it would be presumed that conditions would be better. However were the Greg's really doing it from the kindness of their hearts or were they business inclined from the beginning? The Greg family employed a learned doctor, who was experienced and qualified, he was also the Greg's family doctor. Dr Holland was paid �20 per annum by the Greg's to care for the ailing children of the mill. Around the country, especially in the north very few mills employed a doctor meaning this was unusual to receive any treatment at all when working in a mill. Dr Holland was very advanced for the time and his treatments were all modern techniques, although to our modern sensibilities the illness sometimes sounds more preferable to the treatment. ...read more.

Middle

At Styal, the Greg's completely banned the use of corporal punishment in their mill although this does not mean that it never happened but in accounts from the mill there is no mention of it happening unlike records from other mills. A young apprentice called Robert Blincoe spoke about corporal punishment in Litton Mill Derbyshire. He spoke of apprentices being knocked down and beaten with clenched fists. He told a factory commission in 1833 that he had weights hung to his ears and then beaten by a whip without a shirt on. There are no such records from Styal mill, although some of this type of punishment may have gone on. The information about corporal punishment may have been exaggerated by 19th century writers to improve conditions for the apprentices. In 1834 MP's asked Samuel Greg questions about the conditions for his apprentices. When asked if they were hit he said never beyond a clip around the ear and that corporal punishment was never inflicted. When discussing whether conditions were bad for apprentices in Styal mill we can see that as for punishment it was much less severe than the treatments given out by other mills such as Litton Mill in Derbyshire. ...read more.

Conclusion

In comparison to this varied meal (at the time) a worker in a mill in Manchester describes the staple diet as being potatoes and wheaten bread saying that milk was little used. In comparison to this the Styal mill apprentices had a good diet. Samuel Greg, in my opinion, again realised that with people this young working 12 hours a day would obviously work better if they had a full stomach and therefore would have a better profit margin. In conclusion the conditions at Quarry bank mill (styal mill) in rural Cheshire appear to be better than the average conditions in a 19th century mill. The reasons or this in my opinion is the business-like mind of Samuel Greg who realised that improved conditions would result in more profit for himself and his family. If this is the case, what is the reason that throughout the life of Styal mill there were over 500 runaways? The answer is the sheer monotony of working in a mill day in day out for 12 hours a day constantly would have driven some youngsters to runaway. Probably the largest indicator that conditions were good at the time for apprentices is that many stayed on after they were 18, and continued working for Samuel Greg as the food, care and overtime money was all appealing. ...read more.

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