Manchester, partly because of the opening of the first man made canal, came to epitomise the industrial revolution. The canal helped to bring more trade to Manchester’s burgeoning textile industry,

But the city wasn’t the primary place for the development of textiles.

The textiles were weaved in the north, but spun in the south, and despite the revolution becoming the norm, spinning mills existed until the twentieth century, with the likes of Broadstone Mill being decommissioned in 1959.

Broadstone Mill, Reddish. Wikimedia Commons.


One of the spinners of that particular mill was a Mrs Nell Day, from Gorton, and formerly of Levenshulme and Reddish.

Nell began working in the mill aged fourteen, although she had previously worked in a iron-works, when she was thirteen.

Working at such a young age may surprise some, but children were given the option of leaving school, if they did something called “passing the labour”, and of course, Nell did.

She joined the union at her work, for which she earned five shilling a week for going on strike.

But there was just as much fun and games in the workplace as there is today, perhaps some things you wouldn’t even get away today.

In this clip, she speaks about how the bobbin-er would sneak away for a nap.

Having worked as a spinner for so long, Nell knew everything there is to know about her trade.

Here she gives a fascinating insight into what her job entailed.

Despite the ongoing suffragette movement, there was still a large discrepancy in pay between men and women.

Men were getting paid, 32 shilling a week, whilst Nell, and the other women had to settle for 12 and six.

In fact when she first started, Nell never even received anything, although she was still learning her trade then.

But even then, she had to hand her money over to her mother, although, she and her other siblings would receive an allowance from it.

Here, Nell speaks about certain aspects of her family life, highlighting her mother’s love for baking, and her stepmother’s relationship with her father.

Belle Vue was once a social hotspot, with a zoo, a pictures, and a ballroom. These days it just has the Showcase and the races, which is a far cry from the social hot spot it used to be.

When she was younger, it gave her the perfect opportunity to go and have fun at night time.

In this clip, Nell speaks about meeting her husband at Belle Vue, and some “courting” techniques.

As time went on, and more jobs became available, Nell, hoped for a better life beyond working in a mill for her children.

This was mainly due to the fact that, at the time of when she was looking for work, there was only three options; the tobacco and iron works, and the spinning mill.

Nell herself, would leave the mill in 1950, going on to work as part of her own business.

By Craig Carroll