The Victorians built huge factories powered by steam in cities like: Bradford, Leeds and Manchester. Most of the world's: iron, steel and cotton cloth was made in British factories.
Cotton mills were factories where cotton was spun into thread. In woollen mills, wool was spun in a similar way. Weaving machines turned this thread into textiles, such as cloth and carpets.
As the machines were difficult and expensive to start up, factory owners wanted to keep them going all the time. This meant that workers might spend between 70 and 90 hours each week at the machines.
The rooms were hot and dusty so they were hard to breathe in. People had to shout above the rattle and hiss of machinery, which were deafeningly noisy.
Women were employed to do the spinning and weaving and the men would oversee their work. They had to work as fast as they could and were not allowed to talk to each other.
Small girls worked in mills as 'piecers'. They mended broken threads.
'Scavengers' were used for cleaning out machinery, for example, to remove fluff from under the looms that weaved the threads of cotton together. They had to do this while the machines were running, so it was very dangerous work. Many lost fingers in the machinery and some were killed, crushed by the huge machines.