Year 5 trip to Cromford Mills

Year 5 had an absolutely brilliant day visiting Cromford Mills to help our learning with this terms history topic: the Industrial Revolution. Our day started by meeting ‘Mr Frost’ a Mill supervisor who was dressed in appropriate clothing to reflect his position of employment at the Arkwright Mill in 1771. We were able to learn more about Sir Richard Arkwright told by himself through the technology of CGI film, from his humble beginnings as an apprentice barber back in Preston, through his innovative entrepreneurship years when he designed and patented his famous Water Frame (at one stage earning money from 111 factories throughout the country), to the many court cases where he ultimately lost his famous patent and his death at just 59 years old. The water frame revolutionised the weaving industry changing from a skilled worker weaving one thread at a time to a machine that was operated by cheap, unskilled workers spinning 96 threads at a time. Cromford Mills was the very first factory to use water to power machines ever built in the country making this site a very unique place in history.

After introductions to the key people for the day, the children themselves went back in time changing to become 1771 working children where they met Mr Clack, the Mill manager and Jinny another mill worker. The children undertook tasks such as carding (using specially designed utensils to get the knots out of cotton), spinning (turning the carded cotton into a fine thread), weaving where the children got to make friendship bands to keep and finally signing their indentures to agree to work at Arkwrights factory for the next 7 years, for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week with just Sundays and Christmas Day off each year, abiding by the many many rules they had to follow, otherwise they would be fined or sacked. As a result of their beautiful handwriting when signing their indenture Finlay, Freddie and Billy were immediately promoted from mill work to the Mill office also giving them an enormous pay rise from 12p per week to 18p per week! Seb G was also found new employment working for Mr Clack, as well as Verity B being appointed to be a maid to the Mill manager. Caoimhe was shown a different type of life as Miss Arkwright, one of the Arkwright family and she loved the superior clothing and treatment she was given. Meanwhile Stan got moved into a job deemed more ‘suitable’ working as a Privy boy and Joe G was reassigned to factory floor cleaner, picking up all the cotton off the floor in quick time to avoid being crushed by the many machines.

After a morning of role playing and hardworking, the afternoon was spent on a tour of Cromford, visiting Mr Frost’s home as well as Jinny’s house, visiting the water well where water would be stopped and stored on Sunday due to a days shutdown ready for use on Monday and the village lock up where rule breakers would be held until they could be placed before the court, fined and punished or in the worst case scenario transported to Australia.

We returned back to the Mill site to learn more about the Mill itself and the boys were invited to join the Arkwright militia where they would be taught how to fire weapons and defend the Arkwright Mills against the plight of the Luddites. All boys were excited to be given this opportunity though the girls were somewhat disappointed to learn that they were much too delicate to be exposed to such risk.

After an amazingly fun filled day, year 5 seemed happy to transform back into 21st century schoolchildren and return to school ready for their weekend off.

A huge thank you goes to Michael Ledger at Cromford Mills for organising such a fabulous day for us. Mrs McKenzie, Mrs Wilson, Mr Harrison and Mrs Morris for their help throughout the day and all of year 5 for engaging so well in the day, especially the children given specific roles for playing their roles in such good spirit.