AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

Cotton and the Industrial Revolution

Below is a short blog, that attempts to portray the inhuman conditions that existed in cotton weaving factories in the English Midlands in the time of the so called, “Industrial Revolution”.

The images shown are but a minute number of the archival sum available to anyone interested in researching them.

To our people at BellaBabyOrganic it is a daily reminder for all of us never to loose track of what we are standing for. We must continue to champion the organic cotton cause, to push for better working conditions for those in the textile and garment manufacturing sectors and to help where-ever possible to alleviate the hardships of the poor Indian cotton farmer.

The images presented show us that we are indeed human beings and each one of us does not deserve to ever work under such conditions, no matter how profitable they are to the investors.

The Industrial Revolution came about as an effort to devise faster ways to make cotton cloth and print it. One of the most important technological advances of that period was the water-powered spinning machine, which efficiently produced cotton thread for the first time. It was invented by Sir Richard Arkwright, a former barber who used fashion wigs from the hair he clipped from his clients, in the Derbyshire village of Cromford in 1771 and immediately put to work in a factory opened by Arkwright.

During the 18th century English women had taken a fancy to comfortable garments made from cloth woven in India. Arkwright and others realized that large profits could be made by growing cotton in the America and spinning it into thread and cloth in England. What is now the southern United States as selected because they were closer to Britain than India and had ideal climate for growing the crop.
In 1793 the cotton industry was given another boost when Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, a hand cranked devise with a roller with teeth that tore the cotton into bits and removed the fluffy fibres (or lint) from seeds. By the mid 1800’s America was exporting nearly two billion pounds of cotton a year.
Most of it was being shipped into Liverpool and then transported by river and canal to Manchester for manufacturing. India did not become a major producer of cotton again until after the American Civil War stopped the supply of cotton to Britain from the United States. Egypt also later became a large supplier.

The classic example of imperialism (the acquisition of territory of one state by another to exploit their resources) involved cotton, India and Britain. Cotton grown in India was shipped to Manchester, England where it was made into finished goods which were sold back to India for a tidy profit. Gandhi began his home spinning movement and making of clothes to foil this trade. The British exploited Egypt in a similar way.

Cotton starting flowing out of India after the supply from the United States was cut off by the American Civil War. Cotton originated from South Asia. Cotton undergarments made in India in the 16th century were said be so delicate and beautifully embroidered that they only lasted for a couple of hours. It was no surprise that Gandhi’s first fast in 1918 was conducted to support textile workers in Ahmedabad striking for higher wages.
The factory in Ahmedabad where the men worked is still running today. “To drive the looms,” wrote Jon Thompson in National Geographic, “huge wheels clattered and clanked, now run by electricity but powered by steam engines in the 19th century. Cotton dust had accumulated on the windows and on every pipe and loom and wire…Overhead pipes sprayed mist into the air to moisten the cotton fibre. The workers…wore only loin clothes…because of the unbearable heat and humidity…Although some of the workers were speaking; no sound came from their mouths. They were lip reading—some of them permanently deaf by the unrelenting noise.” [Jon Thompson, National Geographic, June 1994].

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

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