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How did the working conditions of both the pointers and the scourers change during the nineteenth century?

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Introduction

How did the working conditions of both the pointers and the scourers change during the nineteenth century? Scourers and pointers were two very different jobs in a needle mill, but they both were changed greatly over the course of the nineteenth century by the improvement of working conditions and the introduction of new equipment, even though this did not go down too well it changed the jobs of pointers and scourers for the better. The pointers job was to hold the unpainted needles to a circular grinning-stone that was rotating at high speed. This would cause the needle to wear down in a specific place thereby making the needles pointy. Unfortunately this process was very dangerous as there was a lot of metal dust floating around an poisonous gases from the metal swell, also if the grinding-stone was an old one then when a needle hit a dint the whole stone would explode and kill the pointer and anyone who happened to be particularly close. ...read more.

Middle

Because of this pointers rarely lived past thirty-five. Scouring was very gloomy work and was mostly dome by candle light. The needles came into the scouring mill in brown paper bags and had to be sorted so that they were all facing the same way. Next from twelve to fifteen thousand needles were put into buckram and covered in olive oil and emery dust, these would act as an abrasive and would scrub the burnt-on carbon off. The buckram would then be rolled up and tied at both ends, this is called a sett, and the sett is then rolled back and forth over a polishing table for anything up to two days, depending on the quality of the needles. If a sett is being rolled for a long time then after a day of so a new sett was made so that the needles would then be cleaner. After this process the needles are put into the barrelling shop for their final polish before being sent back to where they came from. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was not without its dangers though; if one caught a limb or digit in the machine then it would most certainly rip it clean off. This would result in loss of job and probably even life through massive infection from the dirt that was all around. The working conditions did not change much because there was still a lot of dust floating around, the rooms were very dark and dank and the winter still would have been very cold and draughty, if anything they got worse for the risk of limb loss. In conclusion, the jobs of scourers changed in that they no longer had to use hand tools to polish the needles and had only to make up the sets and place them in the machine, but be careful while they were at it. The pointers job did not change at all because they would not let it, until about the 1870's when automatic steam pointing machines were introduced and the pointers became redundant. This, for the young pointers, would have saved their lives but the old ones would not have survived and they would have been very sour about losing their highly paid jobs. ...read more.

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