​Changing Conditions


The cotton industry resumed work after 1865, but under changed conditions. The price of raw cotton had greatly increased, and poor crops in America kept the price up for several years after. Because of the high prices, spinners could not afford to keep large stocks on hand, but instead, ordered small quantities from Liverpool as required. The railway company ran a special goods train to Blackburn to carry this new traffic.
Spinning was becoming less important in Blackburn, and although some enlargements to existing mills were made, most of the new mills constructed were for weaving only. The cloth woven was for the Indian market. This was bad for the weavers' health, as steam had to be released into the weaving sheds to provide a humid atmosphere, which made the cloth easier to weave.
Because the town had grown, many weavers no longer lived close to the mill, so they brought their dinners to work. They frequently had to eat their meal in the steamy atmosphere, as no dining room was provided. Also their outdoor clothes hung on a nail in the weaving shed, and were wet through by the time work finished.
If weavers had to endure damp, steamy conditions, the spinners worked barefoot in high temperatures, and breathed in an atmosphere filled with tiny particles of cotton, called "fly". If these got into the lungs of the operatives, they could cause respiratory troubles.