Birth of an Empire 5

Birth of an Empire 5

A Story by Wild Rose


The order was received yarn prepared three looms were set up and two weavers given the task of weaving the fabric in two shifts.

Work was well under way when a man came running into the front office

“There has been an accident down at Brae Side Mill, the floor has given way; all the looms have come down to the ground floor people are trapped”


The time keeper sent the assistant for Mr. Ward “Tell him what has happened, go boy run”


Percival, immediately sent the boy down to the boiler house tell them to sound the emergency hooter (one short hoot then the hooter is left on) then went to the engineers workshop

 “Collect some crowbars, pinching rods, wooden blocks, lifting jacks; put them on a cart three of you get off to Brae Side Mill there has been an accident, I’m going to the weavers and get some girls and First Aid kits, bandages and blankets”

In the weaving department there were several willing volunteers 'they are just girls like us and would come to help us' 


"I must tell you it won't be a pleasant sight, girls with crushed limbs and worse, with blood al round."

He selected six girls, the rest were returned to their work

Put the first aid kits on a cart and take them round, I will follow

He found the yard foreman “Can you get some men together and clear the area inside the store just by the door from the entrance, we will need space to keep casualties awaiting transport to hospital, also a screened area for any dead, open half of the main gates and place a screen across from the time office, I’m going round the Brae Side now.


At Brea Side he was met by the leader of the Mines Rescue team “Hello I am Mike from the Mines Rescue Team, We have six men with heavy lifting gear and two first aiders, your people can stay if you wish, until we have assessed things, is there any place for casualties? We need space to work, there will be rubble, fallen looms all to move out of the way as it is freed, a place for casualties to be seen to, just minor help, then a clean space for any nurses, a rest spot while awaiting transport”


P “Hello Percival Ward engineer from Stubley's Call me Percy. Yes, I have organized that the men should have a place cleared and screened of, also a place of any bodies, there are some new clean blankets on one of our carts, I didn’t have any boards or stretchers though”


“Right I will send for a few stretchers and boards, i take it we can use those blankets”

P "Yes the blankets are wove by the learners, We give them the job to weave blankets. They get two each when they get their first pay, a sort of bonus, then they go onto a bonus when they reach a minimum yardage, A few are running six looms. I see they have two casualties ready to go, put them on the cart with a blanket each, and two men to push the cart. I will go with them, to show the way, take the girls inside and send the cart back,

It looks like a long night ahead we dont have a canteen but I can find a room, if you have any facilities for making tea"


M "No we dont have tea making equipment, usually the miners families, or the women's group from a local chapel, do that for us


The mines team had already extracted one girl with a broken arm and another with a leg injury, four men were shoring up a loom so that a rescuer could get underneath to a girl fast underneath


P "I will go up now if you could grab two men to push the cart, those two girls can come up out of your way and the cart returned, I will sort out a rest area and ask about tea making from the ladies"


Back at Beck Side Percival called for help with the two injured ladies. Inside they were sat on a bench seat, A doctor had come from his surgery with the surgery nurse, they had a look at the injuries, providing a sling for the broken arm, the other girls leg was given a dressing Doctor Finch suggested it may require a stitch or two otherwise looked clean.

Next Percival set about arranging some screening to keep prying eyes away from the area and also to stop direct passage from the open gate into the mill yard, then set about finding a space and equipment to make a rest room.


The time keeper came out of his office as Percival returned, "Excuse me Mr Ward, there is a gentleman from Brea Side Mr Oldsworth, he would like a word with you"

P "Oh yes I was beginning to wonder where the owners were, right I can see him now, and he can come and see his girls" 


P "Hello Mr Oldsworth, you are from Brea Side "

J "Err Yes, John Oldsworth, I was in Leeds when I heard, I came straight back, I have to thank you for taking over and I understand looking after the casualties"

P "Yes but that is the way with things we have to take care of the workers, come this way we have two awaiting transport, and a doctor and nurse.

J "Only two so far there were ten weavers and some other workers on the lower floors. We were just about to thread up the looms for an order, that is another problem, I will be looking for some space on borrowed looms, if that were possible, to get the order going"

P "Have a word with your girls and the doctor,, then we can see Mr Worth, Ebenezer, he is in charge of production, he may have a loom or two, but no staff to operate them, see what he has to say"


Doctor Finch said the two people he had received so far had what would really be regarded as minor injuries considering the scale of the accident, a few weeks off work while girls arm repaired

They then went to find Ebenezer when told of the situation said "We dont have much in the way of spare looms, I have six which we use to train new girls, they are threaded up for blankets, each new weaver learns on here, we give her two blankets when she transfers to the main production lines, Your girls could begin to finish off the yarn already threaded up, then they could be set up for your work, we will be wanting to replace the blanket we sent to Brae Side in any case. Your girls will have to work on our conditions but on your pay scales, We dont lock them out if they are late, we just deduct the time, They could report here tomorrow, say eight o'clock, our normal start time is seven o'clock, tell them to bring their lunch, we have no canteen"

J  "Thank you, I will get in touch with them, OK if I come tomorrow at eight o'clock?

E "Yes that should settle them down to know we are not attempting to steal them from you, Oh we can sort out later about the storage and threading of your yarns, I will let our tuners adjust the heddles, your lads could then thread the looms. I assume you have enough yarn, we do all our own from raw fleece to finished cloth, we do sell small amounts, subject to meeting our own requirements"


At eight o'clock next day there were six girls waiting outside the gates, along with John Oldsworth.

Percival and Ebenezer went out Ebenezer greeted them "Come through"  He lead them into the previous days waiting area, still with the  tables, chairs and blankets.

P "Had you been injured yesterday you would have already been in here, we have news from the girl who was badly crushed; this morning we were told that she has had a comfortable night, but it will be several weeks before they will know how well she will recover. Of the others their are broken arms and legs and one with broken ribs. Mr Oldsworth has requested us to find you some work. Well you are going to work for us, in order to work of some yarn already on some of our looms, then they will be tuned to take your firms order.

We start at seven o'clock, we dont lock the door if you are late, we clock on, one minute late results in you being deducted fifteen minutes pay. We dont have a canteen and we do not expect to see any mugs of tea behind or around your loom.

You can go with Mr Worth and Mr Oldsworth to your new work place. Mr Oldsworth has quite a lot of other business to do now any problems see one of the tuners or Mr Worth. I will hand you over to Joe he is one of our loom tuners.


Joe took them to the looms they were going to use "The control will be same as you have been used to. One item we have is this cage around the drive shaft and belt; it is for your safety; if you are found operating the loom with that cage removed; you will be instantly sacked removed to the main gates. We have brought baskets of bobbins for each loom, so you can get yourselves sorted and get weaving. as you complete the work we will rethread with your own firms work.

© 2020 Wild Rose

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Added on April 21, 2020
Last Updated on April 21, 2020


Wild Rose
Wild Rose

Lake Disrtict, Cumbria, United Kingdom

BA (Hons)Management studies Open University Full tech Cert. Marine: Aviation & Industrial Instrumentation and Conrtol Retired engineering lecturer Ex racing cyclist: fell walker: Camper more..

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