David Spriggs

My Long Story

Agnes, my Mother was born in Berkeley just outside Oldham, Lancashire. 

Rising at 5 am everyday Mum would climb the cobbled hill outside her house to reach the cotton mill where she worked as a bobbin carrier.

Dozens of others joined her as she strode up the hill as the factory was the largest employer in the area.

Mum clocked in at 6 am for her 12-hour day.

Life was hard for mill workers in the 1920s and virtually no attention was paid to health and safety.

The noise from the machines was deafening and Mum and the girls she worked alongside became skilled lip readers, as that’s the only way they could communicate over the racket. Many workers went deaf because of the noise.

But, it was the heat of the factory that was so difficult to bear. The temperature had to be kept hot and humid so the thread didn’t break. This meant the air was thick with dust, which the workers couldn’t help but breathe in. Mum said it was common for people to be sick with illnesses caused by inhaling the dust such a lung disease, eye infections, and cancer of the throat. Also, it was a breeding ground for germs and many workers got sick with chest infections and pneumonia.

Mind you, mum said that was the least of your worries. She knew several workers that lost their fingers in the fast-moving machinery.