Trouble up at Th’ Mill

Lancashire mill life circa 1845 

Trouble Up At Th’ Mill



Clip, Clash, clippity crash of clog on cobble

Five thirty, dirty dawn of autumn morn

Off and away for another day up at th’ mill


Today’s different, though, young Sarah’s to go

Nine years old clutching shawl to shoulder

Marches with those much older


Matching pace with the worn of face

The shorn of grace worried workers

Bending into biting wind heading for another day of grind


Hurry scurry one minute late they face locked gate

Fined, turned away, no pay that day

Hooter blows as through she goes


Three shillings a week she’ll earn, she’s much to learn

A smile and a hug from mother then taken by another

Into clish-clash clickety-clackety of the hellish loom room


With rolled up sleeve she’ll learn to weave, never to leave

This now her life, she’ll become a wife, mother like every other

Woman millworker-slave ‘til claimed by early grave


Sarah’s bright, can read and write, no fool, she went to school

But since dad’s arm was lost, they can’t bear the cost

Her wage is in need the family to feed


The one armed aren’t welcomed up at th’ mill

Sarah’s small she can crawl under machines to clean and glean

Hair in a cap to avoid the trap of the clickety-clack


Inches above her head so many of her predecessors dead

Mothers weep for kids who, so overworked, they fell asleep

But in Lancashire cotton is king so the looms must sing


Sunday off no time to pray or play helps mother with washing day

Dad tries his best he’s told to rest his stump’s not healing well

His pain is hell ‘careless bugger’ the overseer said as he bled


Wife given ten minutes to see him before the cart came

Then back to the weaving frame

As cobble clopping horses hurry him away, no more pay


Two women left to fend, rent to pay and doctor’s bill

It’s but tripe and onions now for Sunday dinner,

They’ll all grow weaker, thinner; satanic mill’s always the winner






© pronto 2023
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The Word ‘liked’ seems wrong when referring to times like these, but like it I did. You told the story well, its not easy now when the bread winner loses his job, back then whole families were destitute. Thanks for this one.

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