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Life of the Workers

  • As there was an excess of labour in the market, it affected the lives of the workers.
  • Hundreds of rural poor rushed to the cities in search of jobs.
  • Labourers could find jobs only if they had contacts in the cities.
  • Many jobseekers had to wait for weeks. They spent their nights under bridges, in night Shelters or Refuges or in Casual Wards maintained by the Poor Law authorities.
  • As many most jobs were seasonal, the jobseekers had to wait for a long time to get a job. Seasonal jobs meant that they were without a job during most of the year
  • The life of the workers improved a little in the early nineteenth century.
  • During the Napoleonic War the workers were again put to a lot of hardship.
  • Unemployed rose dramatically.
  • Unemployment induced the workers to rebel against mechanisation. Automatic spinning wheels ( The Spinning Jenny) in the woollen industry were destroyed.
  • The situation slowly changed in the 1840s.
  • Building activities increased in the cities, opening up greater opportunities of employment.
  • Roads were widened, new railway stations came up, and railway lines were extended.
  • Drainage and sewers were laid and rivers were embanked.
  • The number of workers employed in the transport industry doubled in the 1840s,

The Spinning Jenny

The spinning jenny is a multi-spool spinning wheel. It was invented in 1764 by James Hargreaves, in the north west of England. The device dramatically reduced the amount of work needed to produce yarn, with a single worker being able to work eight or more spools at a time. The spinning jenny was so effective in increasing the efforts of a worker's labor that Karl Marx cited it as the cause behind the elimination of slavery.

Model of the Spinning Jenny in a Museum in Germany

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