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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made

module:Textiles: From domestic to factory production

The Industrial Revolution and the textiles industries

page:Contemporary illustrations: Factory production

The images of factory buildings show a very different world and an entirely different scale - with extensive machinery and large numbers of workers. The images themselves tend to show regulated and perhaps contented scenes that may have been far from the brutality that often existed in the factory.


Spinning at Swainson & Birley Mill, Preston, 1834. picture zoom © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library


Our main concern is with the contrast between domestic and factory production. Notice the scale and numbers of machines and imagine the large sources of power needed to drive them. Man-power or woman-power would not be enough.


Mule spinning at Swainson & Birley Mill, Preston, 1834. picture zoom © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library


Look at all the pictures of the machinery and notice how they are being powered by belts attached to shafts that ran the length or breadth of the factory. These shafts were turned by the main source of power for the factory, whether steam or water.


Powerloom weaving at Swainson & Birley Mill, Preston, 1834. picture zoom © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library


Read more about how steam became the key source of factory power in this scene.


STORY: Rise of the factory system
SCENE: The mature factory
launch scene

Now look at the activity below, which compares some visual examples of sources of factory power.

ACTIVITY

 

Text only version


Open question

In what ways do these illustrations suggest a difference between the world of domestic and factory production? Write down the answer in your notes.

Resource Descriptions

Spinning at Swainson & Birley Mill, Preston, 1834.
Mule spinning at Swainson & Birley Mill, Preston, 1834.
Powerloom weaving at Swainson & Birley Mill, Preston, 1834.
Scene  Rich Media
Scene  Rich Media
Scene
Scene
Learning Module
Learning Module
Learning Module