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The far outskirts of the city, again, form a species of universally stretching west or fashionable end, if, indeed, the word belt be not more applicable. Thither fly all who can afford to live out of the smoke. There you will find open, handsome squares, and shewy ranges of crescents, and rows, and miles of pleasant villas peeping out from their shrubberied grounds. Between these two regions-between the dull stacks of warehouses and the snug and airy dwellings of the suburbs-lies the great mass of smoky, dingy, sweltering, and toiling Manchester. It is from that mid-region that the tall chimneys chiefly spring; and it is beneath these-stretching in a net-work of inglorious looking, but by no means universally miserable streets, from mill to mill, and factory to factory-we find the homes of the spinners and the weavers, whose calicoes are spread abroad over three parts of the garment-wearing globe.
The different regions of working Manchester present, however, very different degrees of architectural and sanitary progress. The old parts of the town are the worst; the new portions laid out for the working-classes are the best; and suburbs are being projected in a style which will leave all behind that has been yet done. The oldest and the worst working district of Manchester, is the region known as Ancoats. Here, however, you will find the truest specimens of the indigenous Lancashire population, and hear the truest version of the old Anglo-Saxon pronunciation. Ancoats, we have heard a Manchester man say, is to Manchester what Manchester is to England. The type of the true Lancashire spinner and weaver lingers in its dark alleys and undrained courts in greater purity than in any of the more recent, more improved, and more healthy districts. Ancoats, in fact, is Manchester pur sang-Manchester ere sanitary improvement and popular education had raised and purified its general social condition. Many of its streets, particularly the great thoroughfare called the Oldham Road, are magnificent in their vast proportions; but the thousands of by-lanes and squalid courts, the stacked-up piles of undrained and unventilated dwellings, swarm with the coarsest and most dangerous portions of the population. Here the old and inferior mills abound; here the gin-palaces are the most magnificent, and the pawn-shops the most flourishing; here, too, the curse of Lancashire-the 'low Irish'-congregate by thousands; and here principally abound the cellar dwellings, and the pestilential lodging-houses, where thieves and vagrants of all kinds find shares of beds in underground recesses for a penny and twopence a night. Proceeding round the belt of the working district, we find, bordering upon Ancoats, the township of Chorlton. Here there is a decided improvement. The houses of the operatives in all the quarters are two-storeyed; but in Chorlton the principles of ventilation, and the regards of domestic convenience, have been to some degree provided for. The streets are far cleaner, the dwellings are not so closely packed together, and they are
somewhat larger than those in Ancoats. Here, too, 'cellar houses' are less frequent; the basement storey being put to the more legitimate use of storing coal, than of lodging, in its damp recesses, human beings. But of all the toiling portions of the city, the district of Hulme-the last built-is the most gratifying. Here the houses outstrip those of Chorlton, as the latter do those of Ancoats. And here only in Manchester-in dwellings of the class has the great improvement been effected of making the street-door open into a passage, and not into the family room. An almost invariable and very significant feature about the houses of the Manchester spinners is, that the better the dwelling, the better will the furniture be found. The people in Hulme do not earn more than those in Ancoats, and they pay rather a higher rent; but their home comforts are far greater. The matting in the inferior districts becomes carpeting or drugget in the superior; and it frequently happens that the plain deal of the one is the mahogany of the other. The cause is obvious. People well lodged take a natural pride in being well provided with household necessities. They wish the furniture to correspond with the rooms, and a general spirit of care and neatness is the certain result. Let me sketch, in a few brief words, the average style of a couple of the dwellings in question-the small and ill-built Ancoats house, and the airier and better-planned Hulme tenement. Fancy first a wide-lying labyrinth of small dingy streets, and narrow, unsunned courts, terminating in cul de sacs, with a sloppy gutter in the centre. Every score or so of yards you catch sight of a dingy third-class mill, with its cinder-paved courtyard and its steaming engine-shed; or of a shabby-looking chapel, its infinitesimal Gothic ornaments grimed with the ever-pouring smoke. Proceeding along such streets, you perceive almost all the doors wide open, and clusters of children playing on the thresholds. The interiors thus stand revealed: a series of little rooms, about ten feet by eight, generally floored with brick or stone; a substantial deal-table in the centre, and chairs and stools to correspond. Sometimes you perceive a little mahogany table; and a feature of Manchester operative dwellings, is a curiously small sofa of common material; sometimes there is a vast cupboard with a shining assortment of plates and jugs; sometimes these are ranged on shelves around, with humble cooking-gear beneath. Two features you seldom miss: a huge, glaringly painted teatray, emblazoned with all the colours of the rainbow; and a tolerably good-looking clock. Perhaps from the regularity of mill-hours, clocks are indispensable pieces of furniture in the working world of Manchester, and a clock is very frequently the first article of household stuff which a young married couple procure. Besides these general features, the usual litter of small domestic matters abound. Flour barrels are common. The windows are screened by muslin blinds; and poor withered plants, dead and dying, ranged almost universally along the sill, give
evidence of the characteristic love of the Manchester people for vegetation, and of their very general taste for botany.
As we pass, we glance down at the unwholesome cellar dwellings. Their number is now happily diminishing, and with it typhus, and low and putrid fever, are decreasing also. The furniture of the cellar houses is seldom or ever so good as that of even the most inferior tenements above, and there is always a total lack of little ornamental or fancy articles. Two rooms, one over the other, is the ordinary quantum of accommodation in the Ancoats district. The cases are exceptional in which a back-scullery is added to the ground-floor apartment. In Hulme, however, we have a different state of things. Many of the houses there have four rooms and a cellar; and the provisions of the Building Act, against tenements being raised back to back, have been strictly observed. With superior houses, as we have already remarked, come superior fittings. We begin to find what we may call the parlour element: a room is reserved for holiday and festive occasions, the family meanwhile making a living-place of the kitchen. The arrangement is not without its inconveniences, as it practically abridges the available space, but it also inculcates habits of self-respect, and a degree of laudable ambition to get up the room of state in the handsomest manner possible. Saturday is the great cleaning-out day in Manchester. The mills then 'knock off' about two or half after two o'clock; and if you visit the operative quartiers after that time, you will be astonished at the vigour with which the work of purification is being carried on-at the swarms of little piecers' and 'slubbers' staggering from the nearest public pumps or spouts with pails of water-and, inside, at the numbers of men who, with rolled-up shirt-sleeves, are aiding their wives and children in the work. It is no doubt the tendency of gregarious employments, especially those in which children early earn high wages, to break up the domestic feeling and the domestic circle; and such, to a great extent, is the case in the cotton districts. Still, however, the home feeling of the Saxon race seems strong, and in a great measure indestructible. Every pleasant evening, after mill-hours, the workmen's streets present a scene of no little quiet enjoyment. The people seem on the best terms with each other, and laugh and gossip from door to door and window to window. The women, in particular, are fond of sitting in groups on the thresholds, knitting and sewing; and, as might be expected, there is no inconsiderable amount of sweethearting going forward.
The rents paid by Manchester operatives for such dwellings as have been described, vary from 3s. to 4s. 6d., and in some cases to 5s. a week. This is for a house. For a cellar, the tenant pays from 1s. to 2s. and 2s. 6d., according to size. In times of trade stagnation, the better houses are less occupied, and people who have little relish for such abodes, find themselves forced to fall back upon the cellars. In an average state of trade prosperity, however, it is
calculated that one cellar in every six in the Chorlton district, which is neither the best nor the worst, is empty. The people, as a general rule, dislike them, and to some extent the cellar tenants hold a species of Pariah position in operative estimation.
It is time, however, to pass from the sleeping-home of the spinners and the piecers to their working-home-the factory-to the great rooms or sheds, as they are called, where the allotted ten hours, sometimes lengthened out by ingenious technical contrivances to ten and a half and eleven hours per day, are spent. The manufactories of cotton-thread may be divided into three great classes, according to the fineness or tenuity of the threads which they educe from the raw cotton. The establishments spinning very delicate threads are technically called 'fine spinningmills,' or mills producing high numbers.' Then there are medium mills, and coarse' spinning-mills, manufacturing a rough, strong thread of various degrees of thickness. Of these, the fine spinningmills generally give the best wages. The work there is more delicate, the machinery moves more slowly, and the temperature is kept higher than in the coarse or even the medium spinningmills. The processes performed in all, however, are, in the main, identical, and we will shortly and plainly expound them.
The cotton is first unpacked, and mingled together according to certain technical qualities inscribed upon the bales. It has then to be cleaned, and it first passes through the blowing-machines. The labour requisite here is quite unskilled, and the men and boys employed, earn wages ranging from 6s. 6d. to 8s. 6d. per week, for tossing armfuls of cotton into the machinery, and gathering the partially cleansed material as it is ejected from the revolving cylinders. The atmosphere of the blowing-room is usually the worst in the factory. Dust and fluff are blown about in clouds, and the people frequently work with handkerchiefs stretched across their mouths. The next stage is carding. Men and boys are also the operators here. The mechanism reduces the cotton to the state which we commonly call wadding, and the work consists in supplying the material, taking the accumulating wadding off the drums on which it is wound, and removing the coarser locks rejected by the machinery. The work requires attention and delicate handling, and the men's wages attain to from 13s. to 14s. in the medium mills, and rise to from 14s. to 15s. in the highnumber factories. We now enter upon the primary spinning operations-the gradual reduction of the cotton to smaller and smaller strings. These are conducted almost exclusively by women, called 'tenters'—the old Saxon phrase-who watch or 'tent' the threads as they are evolved, and, by a rapid and dexterous evolution of their fingers, unite any fibre which breaks almost as soon as the accident takes place. The wages given depend upon the increasing delicacy of the thread, as it advances from the coarser to the finer 'frames,' every such stage requiring a more watchful eye and a more delicate hand. Some of the
women attending the finest drawing of these frames can earn as much as 11s. per week. About 2s. difference is often made between the pay of a girl and a woman; while at the lower frames they may be rewarded with from 7s. to 8s.-sixpence more or less. The pittance, indeed, is not great, but it equals what is frequently the weekly pay of a Dorsetshire labourer, for the support of a wife and children; while it can be attained in the factories not by one member of the household alone, but by every one of the requisite age and discretion. Up to this period of the manufacture, the temperature has not been oppressive, and the oily smell has not been disagreeable. We have been passing through long rooms, low in the roof, but one blaze of light from the continuous tiers of windows; and as the operatives can open or shut these at their pleasure, they may have the temperature to their own tastes. In the spinning-room, this is not the case: the thread requires a high and moist temperature to make the fibres adhere properly; and the finer the thread, the higher must the range of the thermometer be. Eighty degrees is a common marking in high-number mills. The coarse-spinning establishments do not require such heat by from six to ten degrees. Here, again, we leave the women's department, and re-enter the men's. There are two sorts of 'mules,' or spinning-machines in use in Manchesterthe ordinary instrument employed for fine work, requiring one spinner, two piecers, and a scavenger; and the self-acting mule, dispensing with the spinner, or at all events with the greater part of his services, but requiring the piecers and the scavenger, as in the ordinary mule. In the case of the latter, the spinner regulates the backward and forward motion of the frame, which advances and retreats ten or twelve feet, drawing out and twisting the threads in the process. The piecers follow the frame in its alternate movements, catching up the broken threads, and skilfully reuniting them. The scavenger, a little boy or girl, crawls beneath the machinery when it is at rest, and cleans the mechanism from superfluous oil, dust, and dirt. It will be perceived, that from the piecer and often the spinner having continually to follow the frame in its advancing and retreating movements, this is the department of cotton manufacture requiring most physical exertion. This exertion is simply walking, and the average distance traversed used to be a fierce subject of dispute in factory debates. The opponents of the system found no difficulty in estimating the children's daily journeys at twenty miles and more; other calculators made the distance from seven to eleven miles; and, from our own observations, we should be inclined to reckon it as nearer the former number than the latter-certainly not an amount of exertion likely to injure a well-fed and healthy boy. As for the spinner, his place is one of the prizes of the mill. His wages, although their tendency is now downwards, may average about L.2 per week; and in very fine spinning-mills, may range 5s. or 10s. above that sum. His piecers earn, on the average, about