WALKS AMONGST THE WORKERS.
TOWNSHIP OF BLACKLEY.
THE township of Blackley is divided
from that of Alkrington on the north by a narrow stream, which runs from
the White Moss on the east, and passing Alkrington Green, enters a deep
woody vale, and joins the Irk, near Rhodes, on the west. This woody vale
is accessible by a sloping road which diverges from the turnpike road at Alkrington toll-gate, crosses a culvert over the stream, and turns to the
right. Then, proceeding along its margin on one hand, with high meadows
and a rude fence of hazles and hedge-wood on the other, presently enters a
sequestered dell, shrouded by tall young timber, the brook on the right,
other timber and high-grounds beyond, and a row of yew trees fringing a
bank on which stands an ancient thatched dwelling, with another yew tree
before the door, and a barn at the eastern end. Passing beneath the dark
branches of the yews, a very pleasant field walk stretches along a narrow
valley, the little stream still accompanying us, and the high-grounds of
Blackley skirting our left, as the wood of Alkrington does our right,
until we emerge in a fine broad meadow, with the waters and pastures of
Rhodes before us, stretching towards Middleton, and one or two genteel
looking residences in front. With this sketch of the valley in our eye,
let us revert to the top of the glen, and commence our progress from the
yew trees. Standing here, and looking towards the Alkrington side, we
observe part of a cottage and a modern small mansion, embowered in the
wood; these, together with the estate, are the property of Dorning
Rasbottom, Esq., who came into possession on the death of the last of the
male line of the old proprietors, Darcy Lever, Esq.; whilst the little
freehold on which we stand is the property of the occupier, Mr. Taylor,
whose family employ their time in farming and domestic manufactures, but,
"the humble shrub remains unbroken, whilst the strong oak is uptorn and destroyed." From this place a narrow old-looking lane guides our steps up a
steep bank, and towards the south, in the direction of the village of
Blackley, in the township of which we are already.
Still ascending the lane, we soon come to two houses, one of which is
occupied by a small farmer, and the other by a family of weavers. Two
women—an elderly one winding bobbins, and a younger one
with a child on her lap—are sitting by the fire, and, in answer to my
questions, they readily shew me the loom-shop, and describe their domestic
condition. One loom contains plain printed gros-de-Naples, three thousand
reed, at fourpence per yard; and the young woman should weave six yards
of it per day, but she complains it is bad, spoiled in the stamping, and
much of the warp comes off broken. This I can believe, from the excessive
carelessness I have myself noticed in the processes both of dressing and
printing. Such carelessness is a cause of great loss both to the weaver
and employer; to the former, in the additional labour which it causes,
and to the latter, in the deteriorated quality of work which results from
it. Probably the weaver in this case would not be able to produce more
than four yards of cloth per day, which would come to one shilling and fourpence,—or eight shillings per week. The other loom contains a reed of
common check, cotton warp, and part of the woof, or weft, linen; this is
seven-eigths in width, and fifty-four yards of it—a good week's
work—come to four shillings and sixpence, or a penny per yard; winding,
dressing, paste, and all outgoings included. This is, one would suppose,
low enough in all conscience, but last year it was worse, being then
seventy yards for five shillings and sixpence,—or seventy yards for
sixty-six pence. In another loom was a gingham, five shuttles, sixty yards
for eleven shillings, of which, probably, with hard work, the weaver would
earn seven shillings; so
that here four persons (one being gone out, and not counting the child)
with weekly earnings of nineteen shillings and sixpence,—or four
shillings and ten-pence half-penny a week each. The rent of the house was
five pounds, the rates would probably be about six shillings a year, and
their coal a shilling a week at least—say for the whole three shillings a
week, or nine-pence each; they would then have four shillings and three
halfpence each to purchase food, clothing, and to supply every other
contingency. But there was no outward sign of distress here, nor any great
demonstration of discontent. The woman, to be sure, wished things were
better—thought they had not enough for their work, and I thought the
same; but there was nothing like squalor, or dirt, or shiftless thriftless
despair about them or their little cot. The walls and the floors were
clean, the windows whole and shining, the place was decorated with maps
and pictures of fierce battles, Lady Godivia riding through Coventry, and
other antiquated and legendary subjects, but all seemed cleanly and
cheerful, and the one woman with her babe, and the other with her wheel,
seemed disposed to make most of the homely enjoyment of their own
hearths, upon which burned a good coal fire.
A little further on the side of the lane stood a cold, genteel-looking
house; the gates, doors, and shutters of the place were all closed, and it
looked just as cheerless and forbidding as an English built house
could be made to appear. A man, apparently on business, stood outside the
yard gate, which he could just look over. I asked why he did not go in,
and he said there were great dogs within that would tear him in pieces. I
said I would go round to the front door if I was him; and he replied the
dogs could go there also, and he had no chance but to wait till a servant
came; and then he set up a whistle! At a short distance further I stood
before a low brick lodge, at the gates of spacious grounds connected with
an elegant, but uninhabited mansion. On a board over the door of the lodge
was a notice that "steel traps and spring-guns were set on the grounds." Even here was "machinery!" these, not to feed the hungry, or clothe the
naked, or to find them employment, but to cause cruel hazard of life, and manglement of limb! Strange that a vastly rich, and certainly charitable
and good young lady—as the last resident was—keeping here her maiden
state, should have permitted such a "raw head and bloody bones" notice to
terrify old women from gathering sticks, or children from going to the
wild dell for primroses! Separated from this great and now voiceless
mansion by a shrubbery only, stood another desolated dwelling, of humbler
pretension certainly, and screened from the great house by the trees, as a
lady would lower her parasol on one side to prevent her from noticing a
humble acquaintance. This was, a short time ago, a small farm house.
The wife brought her husband a fortune of a few hundreds
of pounds; he settled himself and family here, and was in a fairway for
doing prosperously. But reverses came; his good wife died; his farming
went to rack; he tried to make a stand by earnings from the loom; those
also, from some cause, were insufficient; and he commenced the illicit
trade of distilling and selling whiskey. He was informed against—the
excise seized his still, and carried off all he had on the premises,
leaving his children (for he had fled) the bare flags to sleep upon. He
returned into the country, was taken, and is now a prisoner in one of the
gaols of the county. The windows of the house part were now all beaten or
blown out; the grates had been pulled down; the floors were broken up
and scattered over with rubbish and dust, and where the voice of an
affectionate mother had, not long since, been heard caressing or
admonishing her young ones, now all was silent, save the moaning of the
wind, the flapping of casements, or the creaking of doors.
At Crab-lane-head, which is a small hamlet of weavers, I found them
chiefly employed on linen drills, a kind of strong cloth, cotton warp, and
linen weft, used for trousers; plain and striped nankeens; gingham; and
common blue and white checks; their earnings on which, would vary,
supposing health and constant work, from eight shillings to four shillings
per week. Where there was a family of active weavers they would, of
course, be in decent condition; and where it was otherwise there would be
found distress; in fact, the
wages of cotton weavers are down at the lowest possible rate on which they
can earn a poor scanty diet; those earnings cannot be reduced without
sending them in shoals to the Board of Guardians. In the village of
Blackley are a number of check weavers, and their earnings are about the
same as those stated. At Charlestown are one or two silk weavers; the remainder being employed on cotton. Two old men were at work in one shop,
one of them working at a furniture check, at six shillings and sixpence a
cut, admitted he could almost work one in a week; he
was a very active, hale, and cheerful old man. He said "he was young," he
was only born in the year 1766, and was consequently, only in the seventy-seventh year of his age! His fellow workman was weaving a cotton stripe;
he was very cheerful and good looking for his age, though I thought a
little more tardy in his motions than his fellow labourer.
"I am older than that," said he, smiling. "Why, how old are you?" I
asked, and he said, as he stood leaning against the fire-side, "I am in
my eighty- sixth year!" Their united ages would, therefore, amount to
one hundred and sixty-three years. The house in which they lived seemed
poverty-stricken and neglected; a sickly woman was in the place. The old
men were both cheerful, and cleanly, and apparently healthy. I saw them
both at work in one shop,
the "young one" dressing and the other weaving. I did not ask their
names, but they live in the highest
house of the left hand row, going from Blackley village. I have only to
add, that with a few exceptions, the dwellings of the poor at Crab-lane
seemed to be in neat order. Many had white or coloured shades to their
windows. The avenues around their cottages and outward premises were in
good order, and gardens with clustering fruit trees, gave an air of rural
economy which was pleasing to notice. Many of the residents in and about
the village of Blackley, were out of work, in consequence of the stoppage
of a large printing and dyeing concern, and of two others working short
time. I am convinced, however, that the labouring population of our
country will never submit to habits of burglary, until every honest mode
of subsistence has been tried and found wanting. Woe to those then, who,
for any pretence, make this industrious poor into brawling mendicants.
Such a population as ours,
"When once destroyed, can never be supplied."
MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.
"He (Mr. Marshall) inquired how tenants were to pay their rents, and how
landlords were to live!"
TO THE EDITOR OF THE MANCHESTER
The above questions form the concluding sentence of a
paragraph which appeared in your paper of the twenty-sixth ultimo, and
they were stated to have been put by Mr. Marshall, a magistrate, residing,
I believe, in the northern division of the county, at the annual session,
held, as I suppose, at the Court House, in Preston.
Mr. Marshall having, in some observations which preceded
these questions, referred to my work, "Passages in the Life of a Radical,"
with some part or parts of which he seemed to coincide, I think I shall
not be presuming too much if I tender, by way of replication to Mr.
Marshall's queries, such opinions on the subjects propounded, as my share
of experience and attention have enabled me to form. I shall
therefore be much obliged if you will allow me space in your valuable
columns for this purpose; and I should be well rewarded, could I persuade
Mr. Marshall, or any of his friends, or his party (understanding him to be
a tory,) to adopt my views on the matters under consideration.
To the first question, "how are tenants to pay their rents?"
I reply, they are not to pay their rents, that is, their present rents.
It is of no use mincing words: we had best be candid at once, and make
ourselves understood. They are not to pay their present rents—rents
must come down. They were advanced enormously during the long war,
and the paper-money times; and now Peel has brought us back to metal
money, which has decreased wages and prices, why, rent must e'en follow,
and that for one very good reason alone, out of many, they can't be got,
and therefore they can't be paid. Peel's metal money bill gave to
high rents, and to all artificial prices, the first blow; and his tariff
bill has given the second. He has hit the monopolists all around
him, right and left, and pretty hard too: he has, whether wittingly or
not, done good service to the nation.
I would not wish the landed interest to be pulled down, I
would not even have it humbled in reality; I would certainly wish the
class to have less money, the same as other people are having, but they
should have plenty of the good things of this world for it. The
manufacturers will let them have cheap goods, if they would let the
manufacturers have cheap bread; and when food and clothing are cheap, I
defy pride, or luxury, or bad government, to keep other necessaries dear.
I would not have one of them worse off, according to his rank, than was
Sir Raphe Assheton, the last male of the ancient house of Middleton.
He lived like a king amongst his tenants, and was beloved like a father.
I have heard old people say, that his tenants and poor neighbours would
have eaten every mouthful of the earth which covered him in his grave, if
by so doing, they could have restored him to life again. He was the
last of that sort, as well as of that name. We have since had lords,
but none so noble minded as old Sir Raphe. He was munificent; he
kept up the ancient customs of hospitality; he comforted the poor, and
was blest where'er he went; he drew his money from his tenants, and he
spent it amongst them; he did not go rambling and gambling to London,
Paris, and the — knows where; he was an old English gentleman, a kind
neighbour to every one, and a protector of his neighbours. I should like
to have seen the squad of chartists that would have dared to say, "turn
out," to any of his men. Yet this rural king, this comparatively poor, but
really great man, did not receive as much rent from the whole township of Thornham, as is now paid for one farm only in that township. If I am
rightly informed, and I have it from a pretty sure source, his rental for
that estate did not amount to one hundred and fifty pounds a year; yet he
lived in plenty and honour, and what more could the most selfish
I have before me an old manuscript, purporting to be, "A terrier of ye
glebe lands and other possessions, appertaining to ye rectory of
Middleton, as the same was surveyed ye sixteenth day of September, Anno
Dom. 1663, by Robert Symonds, rector, and ye churchwardens." And from it I
extract literally the following entries, viz:—
"First, Isaac Walkden, one dwelling house, of five bays, in outhouseing
two bays, one croft of one rood land, one garden of ye yearly rent of five
shillings, and in boons yearly one day shearing, and one hen, and an
hariot at ye death and decease of every tenant or tenant's widow of ye
"Richard Hilton, one dwelling house of two bays, one barn of two bays, and
one garden, upon ye yearly rent of one shilling; in boon one day shearing,
one hen and hariot, ut supra."
The above, it would appear, were cottages; next comes a farm:—
"Jonathan Jacques, one dwelling house of four bays, one barn three bays,
other outhouseing two bays, one garden, and twenty-eight acres of land by
estimation or yr about, and in boons yearly leading five load of turfes,
one day shearing, one hen and an hariot; at ye yearly rent of eighteen
Such were the rates at which cottages and farms were let under the rector
of Middleton, in the year 1663. The rents are now, of course, a great deal
higher; though I don't believe they are let at more than a fair valuation
as land goes. To the aforesaid state of things we should endeavour to
approximate; and the sooner we begin to retrace our steps, the better.
To the second question, "How are the landlords to live?" I say, live as
Sir Raphe Assheton did. Live with your tenants, and more for them than it
has been your want to do during the last fifty years. Come back to the
halls of your fathers; build up "your old waste places;" renew the fires
on your ancient hearths; call around you kindred hearts for the same
goodly purpose. Such may yet be found.—Surely all the noble emotions have
not become extinct. Cast an eye of mercy on the poor—encourage the
good—repress the evil. If you call yourselves "conservatives," be such in
reality—in action as well as in word. Be, indeed, "repairers of the
breach;" "restorers of the paths to dwell in." Your ladies, also, may find
plenty of suitable employment, and pleasurable too, for their leisure
hours. There are such acts of mercy as administering to the wants of the
sick, relieving their distresses—(our Saxon mothers got their title by
that)—throwing crumbs of instruction in the way of the ignorant and
unthrifty of their own sex, and in holding up the fainting hearts of the
sensitive and hardly used. They might do all this, and more, without
soiling their delicate hands, or sweeping the hovel floors with their
costly garments; and I am sure their hearts would be the easier and
better, and their looks more lovely, for having done it.
When the good old knight I have mentioned used to come home from the
chase, he brought with him the poor hungry lads who had been hunting all
day,—he brought those as well as the rich. The lads were placed in the
great hall, around the huge fire; and there, whilst the knight was with
in the parlour, the pedestrians were plentifully regaled with beef, bread,
and good brown ale. He did not "cut their company" when the day's toil
over, and leave them to go swilling bodily and mental poison at the
hush-shop, nor to ravage turnip or potatoe fields to satisfy hunger. He
treated them so
that he could meet them as humble friends another day; and he sent them
home singing like throstles in a morning. This is the way in which they
live. If gentlemen would be honoured, let them act with honour, and they
shall have their reward.
But if the landlord ask, "How shall we pay our taxes?" Oh, the taxes
must come down also, and the manufacturers will help you to accomplish
There must be a general retrenchment of the public expenditure, the
burdens must be more equally laid
on, and the fundholder must carry his share. Yes, when once rents have
given way fairly, the landholders will all be for cheap living; they will
manufacturers, and will become thorough free traders. Conservators they
may remain of useful institutions; but they will certainly be reformers
and curtailers of lavish expenditure.
How, then, is this desirable change to be effected? How are the landlords
to be convinced of their error? By the same means which convinced the
manufacturers of their error. The latter never, as a body, became sensible
of the necessity of a free trade in corn until the ground began to shake
them—until their capital was in danger of being swallowed up. This is an
undeniable fact. When the Radicals went to Peterloo, to petition for the
the corn laws,—as all true radicals, both now and then, would do,—where
were the great men of the league? why, they were either banded with the tories,
or were just "nowhere," as regarded that question. But times began to
get bad, trade decreased, profits were reduced; and then, like men true
sensible to their own interests,—as all men will be more or less,—they
looked at the thing, and became repealers. The same cause will produce the
same effect, wherever it operates. Sir Robert, and the inevitable
circumstances which are hounding at his back, will, must, nay, have
already, begun a
reduction of rents; receipts will become less; expenditures will be
reduced; no class will be exempt;
there will be a shaking down of feathers from the high roosting places, as
well as in the road-side nests. Much false pride will be dropped with the
plumage; and a more sober mode, both of thought and action, will pervade
Meantime, I would say to the manufacturers, "Be a little patient; take
the good advice Mr. Hindley offered you the other day; go forth
instructing, but not
exasperating; conciliating, not denouncing; bear a little; consider how
recent has been your conversion; recollect it was but as yestermorn you
tremor; give others a little time to rub their eyes; and depend upon it,
the very same cause which so unpleasantly aroused you, will awaken others
many suns have arisen and gone down. One good stagger in the rent market,
and it reels a little now, will make the landlords spring from their lair,
send them scampering over to you, with a whoop, and a holloa, that will
ring through all Downing-street.
That voice arose with the radicals; the manufacturers, after a long
interval, have taken up the echo; the chartists (shame and contempt to
have opposed it; the rural tenantry will revive it; their masters will
hear it; decreased rents will make them understand it; their mistresses
will feel it in the
clipping of useless pride and luxury; it will become a topic for anxious
discussion in the higher circles; parliament will reiterate it in a voice
which allows not
mistake; a low fixed duty may then be proposed, but eventually the
corn-laws will be repealed, and it will then be seen what can be done to
prosperity of England.
I am, sir, your obliged,
Middleton, November 1st, 1842.
A STRANGER IN LANCASHIRE.
A conversation, of which the following is the substance, once took place
betwixt a stranger, a pedestrian traveller, supposed to be Sir George
his "Tour in the Manufacturing Districts;" and a resident of Moor-side,
near Littleborough. Persons acquainted with the general character of the
of that part of the country, will recognize in the inquisitiveness, the
superstition, and the simplicity of this countryman, a correct portraiture
of the manners
of a Lancashire peasant, manufacturer, and farmer of the present day. When
Sir George Head stood to see the pigs washed at Huddersfield, [See his "Tour in the Manufacturing Districts"] he spent
time to no better advantage than he did in listening to the sharp turns,
and broad credulities of this lone dweller of the moor-borders.
The scene is near a stone cottage, with a porch whitened inside, and a
tall elm spreading its branches above the roof; a barn and shippon are in
inclosure, and the whole are situated on the top of a green slope, on the
edge of a dark and cheerless moor. At the end of the cottage is a rock
which, sparkling like dew-pearls, a rindle of water tumbles into a stone
trough. A bare-headed, dark-eyed, and ruddy-brown damsel is washing in the
shade of the tree; the master of the house, a man some forty years of
age—with a slouched hat, a greasy blue jacket, a striped woollen apron,
round his waist, ribbed fustian breeches, brown stockings, and clogs on
his feet—is calling back his cur Twitcher, which is dodging the heels of
gentleman coming up the flagged foot-path towards the cottage. The
stranger after the usual compliments, says,
"Pray, can you inform me which is the nearest way to Littleborough?"
"Wot, dun yo myen past th' Chanters, at th' Lone-foote?"
"I do not know where I should go past, sir."
"Oh! yo dunno' know, dun yo? but I'll goo wi' yo, an' show yo. See yo
then, yo mun goo deawn th' Little-feelt, an' deawn th' Yeaw-bonk, an'
th' Wood, an' yo'n soon be at th' Littleborough. Wot, aryo sum mack ov a
wool-felley, or summut?"
Stranger.—"No sir; I am not in trade."
"Why, I thought yo hadn bin. Why, we'er dun yo come fro, then?"
"I come from London."
"Fro Lunnun, dun yo?"
"Dun yo know Peel, then?"
"Why, Peel at belungs to this lond."
"I am not aware that I do."
"Why, but he lives i' Lunnun!"
"In what part of the town does he reside?"
"Th' teawn! he never lift i' Ratchda in his lyve, mon."
"I mean in what part of London does he live?"
"Nay, I know nowt obeawt tat, but he lives i' Lunnun; he's my lonlort,
mon; an' Cleggs-wood, an' owd Joe's too, belung'n to him."
Stranger.—"Then you hold this farm, I suppose?"
"Ay! ay mon, I live
heer, but I'm beawn to lyev it: it's so deer, mon; an' theers so 'ternal
obeawt beer, too, mon."
"Ay, thur is, mon. When I coom to this farm at furst, I cudno' churn, an'
so I went to yon chap 'at lives at th' edge o'th' moor yon; an' I towd
him; an he
show'd me in a glass hooa it wur 'at did it. Seeyo' th' wizart lives at
yon owd heawse wi'th' ash-tree at th' end; an' so, when wee churnt th'
I put a red wot link i'th' churn,—an' at that same time th' owd devil wur
so ill brunt, at it very nee kilt him;—an' ever sin then, we con churn yezzy enoof. But
th' barn's witcht, so 'at no man con reer a cawve int'. I've seen 'em
plump run op th' sides o'th' barn wall,
like hey-goo-mad, an' then in obeawt a week afther, they'n begin o bein
ill, an' they deen. Hanyo onywitches i' Lunnun?"
Stranger, smiling.—"Not that I am aware of."
"Well then, yo'r weel off,
heawever; but I bin afther th' Turner yon, weer Robin lift; dunno' yo
him 'at belungs to th' Turner?"
Stranger.—"I believe I do not."
"Wiry, but he lives i' Lunnun too. Has he never towd yo 'at th' Turner,
an' th' Sheep-bonk, an' a dyel o' farms obeawt beer belung'n him?"
Stranger.—"No one has told me that."
"Why then, yo noather known him nor Peel?"
"I do not. But pray now, what do you and your family work at?"
"Why I weave flannel, an' th' wife spins for meh; an' th' lads an'
lasses weav'n cally."
"And how much may you have for weaving a yard of calico?"
"A yard, mon! they'n so mitch a cut."
"And how many yards are there in a
"Why, theer's thirty yards i'th' Smithy-nook cal'; an' they gett'n fro a
shillin to eighteen-pence a cut: that at a shilling 'll be nowt a yard!
will it neaw?"
Stranger.—It will not be much, indeed!"
"Mitch indeed! ittle be nowt, an' nowt elze, mon; that's plump."
Stranger—"What business do you consider to be going the best in this
"Why printin to be sure;—calico printin—it tells for itsel, dusno' it? Look at yon felley at th' Howside; when he coom a livin to this part at
furst, hee'r not so
mitch better off nor his neybours; then he wed a lass fro th' Hondle Hoe,
an' bigg'd yon fine heawse amung th' trees; an' then he started o' printin;
he prints two theawsun pieces a week, an' gets a shillin o' cleer profit
o' every piece."
Stranger.—"That must be a good trade indeed! but how do you know he has
"Why becose Tum o' Neds, o' Bills, o' Sally's, towd meh so; an' beside I
know it's true an' nowt elze, for meh feyther has lift oppo th' Cawbrook
o' his lyve,
an' he sesso; an' it's like to be true, isno' it?"
The stranger turned aside and smiled, and said, "he was sorry he did not
hear so good an account of other branches of manufacture, but he hoped
would soon improve."
"Aye, theese great men op at Lunnun—said Yethert—o' tawk'n o' that way,
but it never happens to be so; they reckont 'at Reform wud set o' things
by—he's a great while i' comin, an' they gett'n wur every day."
The stranger laughed outright at the notion of Reform being a person, and
then said he must be going, but before starting off, he asked the name of
fold of houses nearly opposite, but a considerable distance from where
they were standing.
"On! they coan that, Th' Whittaker; Isaac O' Lee's lives teer; dunno' yo
Stranger.—"I do not."
"Why that's quere, for he lives oppo his own lond: an' mistriss Lort,
'at lives o' this side o' Ratchda has two farms theer; dunno' yo know bur?"
Stranger.—"I do not."
"Why then, I'll be sunken iv yo known onybody, oather heer or at Lunnun. But afore yo gwon, I'll
tell yo'th' road agen. Yo mun goo streight past th' Chanters, an' deawn
yon Little-feelt, and deawn th' Yeaw-bonk, an' through th' Wood, an' o'er
Yellsbridge, an' past James o' Sladin's, an' eawt th' road, an' yo'n soon
be at th' Littleborough."
WALKS AMONG THE WORKERS.
THE bright sun, like that of an April day, the
exhilarating air, and the cool and untainted breeze, having tempted me to
the heights of Castleton, I once more beheld the fair valley of the Roch,
now mantled in snow, and made up my mind, at the moment, to bend my steps
through a portion of that interesting district, which had so greatly
attracted my notice the first time I went over Thornham, to observe the
condition of the working population on the northern side of the hill. In
coming to these fine breezy eminences, I had passed on my right, Royle,
probably from the Welsh or Celtic, Ar Haul, pronounced Ar Hoyle, and
Maydin on my left, another place with a Celtic name. Below, the little
stream called Trows, crosses beneath the highway, and on the verge of it,
in a small fold of cottages, stands the public-house immortalized by that
rare genius of his times, and still more rare as to place, Tim Bobbin. It
was here the misfortunes of poor Tummus commenced, his calf being
killed by "a tit," which stood at the door. So much for my transit hither,
and some of the places worthy of notice on the way. Threading very
pleasantly several of these old lanes, (beautiful strolling places in the
spring time of life,) I dropped into the valley at a small hamlet to the
east of Rochdale, and at but a short distance from the verge of the
borough, and here entering one of the dwellings, I was presently welcomed
to the fireside, and a free conversation with the occupant quickly ensued.
From general observations, the conversation soon turned to more direct
ones on trade, and then to still more interesting ones on employment in
manufacture, wages, machinery, and the domestic condition of the
work-people. My friend (for so I will call him) was and is a respectable
man in his
sphere of life. He is a flannel weaver, and has followed that employment
from his earliest years. He is about fifty-five years of age, and, with
the assistance of his wife, who died about two years since, he brought up
a young family in decency, and the enjoyment of a comfortable homely
plenty. He is a person of more than ordinary observation and intelligence in
worldly matters; is a Reformer, though not of the destructive school, in
tolerant Christian in religion, a loyal subject to the Queen and the laws,
and a "live-and-let-live" neighbour with all ranks. Having said thus
will not be supposed that I can add anything to the force and good sense
of his observations; and I will, therefore, so far as they are available
purposes, give them in his own words. But, first, we will have a
description of the residence of the worthy working man. The door and front
eastward; the space inside was about seven yards by eight; the fire-place
on the left of the entrance, and a good oaken chest of drawers, with
drawings in glazed frames, were on the right; a good oaken couch chair,
with specimens of needlework, and other pictures, was fronting the window;
several bright and neat seats were in various places round the house. Over
head was a bread-flake, but with a few oat-cakes on it; some bundles of
herbs, &c., but no bacon, ham, or beef were seen. Opposite the door was a
flight of stairs to the chambers, and a passage leading to the cellar, and
small parlour, used as a bed-room; and on the other side of the house was
a small recess used as
a kitchen. The floors, the walls, and the furniture, were all thoroughly
clean. The chambers above, of two heights, were the same size as the
and it should be remarked, that flannel weavers require capacious, open
rooms, on account of the space necessary for their jennies, their working
looms, and other implements of manufacture. At the head of the stairs, in
the first chamber, was a good bed in an old-fashioned black oaken
Near that was a loom, at which
the weaver sat, tying in his work. Beyond the loom
was another decent-looking bed in an old bedstead; next that was a warping
mill, taking up much room; then a stove, with a fire burning,—and then
loom. The looms each contained flannel work, of a fineness called
thirty-two reed—such as is used for linings, petticoats, and other
personal wear. The
room was comfortably warm, and the arrangements were of that primitive and
homely cast which reminded me of the free distribution of a Dutch
interior; such is a characteristic of most of the working and sleeping
chambers of the flannel weavers in the neighbourhood of Rochdale. In the upper
room were two other jennies, of seventy spindles each, a loom, a stove,
a bed, and other matters. Over head the naked timbers of the roof, and
the cold unlofted slates. A clever, good-looking young woman, the
youngest daughter of the occupant, was here at work, spinning wool on her
jenny. His family consisted of himself, his son, and
three daughters; all grown up, and unmarried. The weavers were, himself,
his son, and a journeyman, who lived with another family. The young
women spun the wool from slubbings, warped the warps, and did the
house-work: and such were the domestic and working apparatus and
of my friend's household.
He said things were very bad—not so much from want of work as from low
wages; a master might reduce or abate at any time, and the weaver, in
never knew what his wages were until he had drawn
them. The weaver brought the wool ready slubbed from the warehouse, and he
spun it, warped, scoured, sized, beamed, tyed, and wove it; taking the
slubbings back in cloth. The warp was made from lamb's wool, mixed with a
little skin wool—that is, wool taken from the hide after the sheep is
dead, as is
that which the fell-mongers sell; the woof, or weft, was made from broke
or shorn wool, mixed with a little skin-wool, and some foreign. The
made were in the thirty-two reed, two pieces in a breadth, of thirty-seven
inches each; the pieces were forty-eight yards in length, and the two
forty-three pounds of slubbings. He brought the work from the warehouse,
as before stated, and took it home when finished; and the whole was
eight days work of twelve hours, and came to twenty shillings, to divide
betwixt the spinner and weaver, or one shilling and three-pence her day
His journeyman weaver had nine shillings and sixpence for each warp, and
ten shillings, if he scoured and sized the warp himself. The house he
dwelt in was his own, having been left him by his wife's father; if he had
rent to pay he could not pay it, as things were now going. The rent and
all rates, for
such a house as his, would be about ten pounds a year; and his coals,
having three fires in the winter, would come to about two shillings a
reckoning by the year round. The rent, fire, and rates, we may say, would
amount to fifteen pounds per annum, or two pound ten shillings each person;
which would leave
them about thirteen-pence farthing per day to subsist upon, and provide
clothing, and all other necessary articles.
In 1824-25 he drew five guineas for work which would now only bring him
two pounds; about twelve or eighteen months ago wages were reduced two
shillings and sixpence in the pound, and there had been a gradual
reduction, though at intervals, during the last sixteen or seventeen
years. When he had
six children, and the oldest only eight years of age, he could lay in a
winter's stock of potatoes, and pay for them when he had them; he used
also to buy
eight or ten score weight of pork, and a round of beef to hang against christmas; ale he took when he had a mind, but always had plenty of it at
for his family's use, and to treat friends if they came. He generally
bought a tub of butter at once, and it was very seldom that he purchased
part of a
cheese. Meal and flour he laid in by the pack weight, and seldom purchased
less during nearly thirty years in succession. When his children began
to work he saved money, and was doing well, but the unions sprung up (the
weavers' unions) and interfered betwixt the manufacturers and the body of
weavers, and did much harm. He blamed the proceedings of the unionists,
and was much abused at the time for not going with them in all their
extravagancies, but they had since found out that he was right. The
proceedings of the unionists, in collecting shuttles and destroying
away with all
the old kindly feelings which had existed betwixt the employers and the
employed. More machinery was then quickly introduced, and it had
had been gradually extending ever since; and now, he believed, the
manufacturers cared but little about the welfare of their workmen, but
almost a kindness to let them have a little work to do at their own homes.
Things, in fact, were much altered for the worse, in nearly every way as
regarded the workmen. As it respected himself, he was now embarrassed on
every hand; he had to contract small debts to keep his head, as it
were, out of the water; he kept paying them off as fast as he could, but
whilst he cleared one away he was getting fast with another. He now bought
potatoes either by the stone or half stone, at seven-pence to eight-pence
the stone; of bacon he got now and then a pound; and perhaps every six or
seven weeks he laid in as much as seven or eight pounds of shambles' meat. He had no ale this christmas or he would have drawn me a pot full; he had
never brewed since his wife died, which was twelve months since last June. Butter he now bought by the pound or half pound; and cheese he never
bought now, except sometimes a pennyworth for a taste; his flour he bought
every week on credit, at two shillings and sixpence the dozen; and his
he got by a tub at once, at one shilling and three-pence halfpenny the
tub. He declared he never worked harder since he was wed than he does now. On
observing that the flannel manufacture was once a comfortable, homely
business; he said it was; he could at one time send his children to
himself and wife remained at home at work; their quarter's bills for
learning would come to as much as twenty-five, or twenty-six shillings,
and he paid
them willingly; he could do it then without embarrassing himself; but no
working man could discharge such accounts in these times.
RADCLIFFE OLD HALL.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE MANCHESTER GUARDIAN.
IN your last Wednesday's number, an
article is entitled "Radcliffe Old Hall," in which it is stated, that it
was taken down to make room for a row of cottages. I should presume, on
reading it, that Mr. Bamford had never visited the place, but spoke from
hearsay. It fell down, and so far from being taken down to make room for a
row of cottages, those alluded too don't stand upon any part of the ground
formerly occupied by it. With respect to its being older than Haddon Hall,
I am at a loss to conjecture upon what such an opinion is founded. Radcliffe Hall, with its two towers, (part of one is yet remaining) was
built in the reign of Henry the Fourth, but there is no inconsiderable
portion of Haddon at the present time, at least two centuries older. There
is no ground, that I am aware of, to conclude that Radcliffe Hall was
older than the fifteenth century. I grant there is an idea of its great
antiquity in the immediate neighbourhood, and I was told upon the very
spot, that it was fourteen hundred years old. If my informant had said
four, it would have been much nearer the mark. It has been called, and
certainly was, a manor-house of the first rank, and was once the seat of
the Earl of Sussex, conspicuous in the time of Queen Elizabeth.
As the article in question is not historically correct, and reflects upon
the taste of the Earl of Wilton, I have thought it proper to trouble you
with a few remarks upon the subject, as I think the present owner has a
proper regard for a valuable specimen of ancient domestic architecture,
and that by means of your widely circulated journal, an improper idea may
be formed of that nobleman.
I remain, your obedient servant,
S. HEYWOOD, Jun.
Walshaw Hall, near Bury.
[We readily give insertion to the above, as correcting some inaccuracies. Mr. Heywood need not be surprised at the traditional notion of the great
antiquity of the building entertained in the neighbourhood; for there was
a "William de Radeclive, of Radeclive Tower," in the thirteenth year of
King John (A. D. 1281.) By letters patent from Henry the Fourth, (dated
fifteenth of August, 1403,) James Radclyffe, of Radclyffe Tower, was
empowered to rebuild a certain hall with two towers, and to kernel and
embattle the walls, hall, and towers, and to hold the same as a fortalice
to himself and his heirs for ever. As to the dilapidation of the edifice,
Dr. Whittaker describes the old hall adjoining the tower, as existing in
1818, and says, "The two massive principals, which support the roof, are
the most curious specimens of carved woodwork I have ever seen." He also
notices "a moulded cornice of oak," "the remains of a very curious window
frame of oak, wrought in Gothic tracery," and "a door of massive oak,
pointed at the top." Mr. Baines, in his History of Lancashire, states that
in 1833, the "hall" was used as a hay-loft and cow-shed; and that
nothing visible then remained of the moulded cornice of oak, the massive
principals, ornamented pillars, pointed doorway, or curious oak frame,
mentioned by the learnèd doctor. He adds, "The principal part of the
edifice, which stands within a few yards of the church, near a cluster of
cottages, is a neglected ruin, and the remains of what may be properly
called the tower, partake of the general dilapidation." He also says that
where buttresses were wanting, the walls had fallen, and that part of the
materials from the east and north sides of the building, as well as of
the tower, had been used in the erection of a neighbouring corn-mill. In
the "Illustrated itinerary of the county of Lancaster," published in
1842, we find the following passage:—"The hall has now totally
disappeared. An eye-witness described to us the process of its demolition
with an indifference of the same nature as led to its removal. The only
thing which seems to have excited his mind, was the massiveness of the
timber which its destruction brought before his eyes. We can never cease
to regret that these interesting memorials * * should not, in the course
of the vicissitudes of property, have come into the possession of persons
more wishful to preserve their existence." From these extracts, we infer
that, for want of protecting buttresses, some portions of the walls fell,
but that beyond this, there has been a demolition by the owner. If
this be an erroneous notion, it is one conveyed by the historians of the
county, and should be controverted.—Ed. Guard.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE MANCHESTER
IN your paper of Saturday last, I find
that Mr. Heywood, of Walshaw, near Bury, contradicts my statement that
Radcliffe old hall was, "taken down:" he says, "it fell down." Now
the fact is, it was part of the building called, "the chapel," which was
contigious to the hall, that fell down. This took place about
fourteen years ago, and the hall itself was taken down about two years
He denies that the hall was taken down "to make room for a
row of cottages," and in that he is partly right and partly wrong, as I
have well ascertained; it was not taken down "to make room for the
cottages," but to build them. All the materials of the hall, which
were convertible for the cottages were taken out, and built into them as
wanted; the cottages therefore do not stand on the exact site of the hall,
but some eight or ten yards from it and in that respect, and that only
does Mr. Heywood's representation disprove mine.
He seems to think I had never visited the place, but had
taken my account from hearsay. I beg to assure him that I was on the
spot when the old hall, and the old chapel were standing together, and
that I was astonished, and deeply grieved, when, on my next visit, both
The chapel, or what was so termed by residents on the spot,
was, as I have said, contigious to the hall, and was entered from it by a
door: it was probably in this place, that Dr. Whittaker observed the
"curious specimens of carved wood work," which you mention. Part of
this room, or place, fell from neglect and dilapidation, and the timbers
were ridded out, and carted away to some coal works on Cockey moor.
The hall still remained, part of it occupied as four tenements, by four
separate families, and other parts as a barn and cow-house, and it was
these latter parts which I saw. Mrs. Bealey and sons wanted more
dwellings for their work people, and the hall, under some contract or
other, was pulled down to furnish materials to build them. "We
pulled it down," said the contractor for the job, "and hard work we had of
it:" so much for Mr. Heywood's assertion that it fell down.
Nine or ten cottages were builded, or part builded, from the
materials, and a great quantity of timbers, all of black oak, and some of
immense size and bulk remained after the cottages were completed; these
timbers were taken to Mrs. Bealey and Sons' woodyard, where they were
regarded as objects of curiosity by all who beheld them. One window
frame in particular—as my informant said, but it was probably a door
frame—was of most ponderous weight; several of the main supports were
twenty feet in length, and two feet in thickness as they stood, and being
made to curve, and join at the top, like a pointed arch, they must have
been cut from trees of uncommon dimensions. The stairs to the
chambers were cut from solid square blocks of oak, sawn down at the
angles; all the other details were in keeping with these rude and massive
materials, and as I gazed upon them in astonishment and awe—for I had
never dreamed of there being such a place in our neighbourhood,—my
thoughts were irresistibly hurried back to far remote times, when the
wolf, and the deer, and the wild-boar ranged these lands, and when a
forest almost would be felled to embattle, in a hold like this, one man
against other hostile men. Nothing could possibly have more truly
realized the description of the hall of Cedric the Saxon, as given by Sir
Walter Scott, in his romance of Ivanhoe, than did this old hall at
Radcliffe; and I do not see any reason whatever for not assigning to this
part of the building, a Saxon origin. The name is Saxon; the family
was, almost undoubtedly a Saxon one, as nearly all the old families in
this part are; the place and its neighbourhood are still, eminently rife
of Saxon customs, manners, and language; and in the midst of all these,
finding a building with every characteristic of Saxon architecture, should
we not be careful of denying it an origin to which it seems so naturally
allied; a date which it so strongly claims.
Mr. Heywood says, "the hall and the towers were built in the
reign of Henry the Fourth," whilst you show in your very lucid note, that
there was "a William de Radeclive, of Radeclive Tower," one hundred and
twenty-two years before Mr. Heywood's date. In 1403, "James
Radclyffe," as you say, "was empowered to rebuild a certain hall with two
towers, which shows that a hall, as well as towers, were, or had been, in
existence before he was empowered to rebuild them. It does not
follow that the whole of the hall and towers were then down, or were then
rebuilt; nay, is it not most probable, that this James Radclyffe, would
only rebuild what he pulled down, or found down, or dilapidated, and that,
as a sensible man would now-a-days, he would preserve the best part of the
old building and occupy it whilst his alterations were going on, and then
"kernel and embattle it" along with the new structure. Does not this
reasoning lead us back, and present to our imagination the late hall as
being the one which William de Radeclive would occupy in the reign of King
John.—A. D. 1281—and does not that bring us to the verge of the period in
which the scene of Ivanhoe is laid? the times of the latter Saxons, or
early Norman chiefs?
I have not, nor had I, any wish whatever, in noticing this
matter in my current publication to, "reflect upon the taste " of the
noble owner of the property. I merely wished to give my description,
furnished by memory, of what I had seen; and to express my regret, that a
relic so deeply interesting,—and the more so from its being situated in a
district where nothing else of the sort remained,—had not been deemed
worthy of preservation.
I am, Sir,
Yours very respectfully,
Blakeley, July 24th, 1844.