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Stories about the lives we've made

module:Textiles: From domestic to factory production

The Industrial Revolution and the textiles industries

page:Contemporary illustrations: Domestic production

Contemporary illustrations provide another way of looking at the different worlds of domestic and factory production. They need to be used with caution as the artist may have his own agenda, wishing to convey a particular or favourable impression of the scene that he is painting.

This image of spinning in the home in early nineteenth century Yorkshire, shows three generations of women; grandmother combing the raw cotton or wool, mother spinning it into thread and the daughter stirring the food in the pot.

Woman spinning, known as 'The Spinster of the Hearth'. picture zoom © Caliban Books

Production of cloth by innumerable workers required a market system to go with it. Weavers and other domestic producers like Cornelius Ashworth needed to know that if they went to a particular place they would be able to sell their cloth.

Clothiers with pack horses carrying cloth to market. picture zoom © Caliban Books

Producers took the cloth for sale to the local cloth market. This is an image of packhorses carrying cloth, either from the weaver to the market or from the market to London or another trading centre.

In centres such as the one illustrated here in Leeds, cloth makers and traders bought and sold. The weaver would sell his cloth to the local merchant who would then sell his cloths to the large-scale merchant who came from outside.

Traders in the cloth hall in Leeds. picture zoom © Caliban Books

Many towns in the West Riding of Yorkshire possessed such cloth halls, although not necessarily as grand or still surviving. One survives in incomplete form in Leeds while the one in Huddersfield was destroyed in the 1930s.

You can read more about the home or cottage industries in this scene on Domestic manufacture.

STORY: Rise of the factory system
SCENE: Domestic manufacture
launch scene

Resource Descriptions

Woman spinning, known as 'The Spinster of the Hearth'.
Clothiers with pack horses carrying cloth to market.
Traders in the cloth hall in Leeds.
Scene  Rich Media
Scene  Rich Media
Learning Module