Mill Workers and Owners

The Influence of Mill Owners

The mill owners of the Derwent Valley needed to attract families to come and live in their communities so as well as a regular income, the mill workers were provided with coal, food and housing.


In 1789 there were 433 houses for workers in Belper and Milford. By 1811, this figure had grown to 1023. Many of the houses had small plots for workers to keep pigs and grow vegetables. In an effort to keep the workforce healthy, Struttís worker housing at Belper was whitewashed regularly and the chimneys cleaned every 3 months.


In 1788, The Unitarian Chapel, Belper was built by Jedediah Strutt and a Sunday school was opened in the North Mill. Strutt would not employ anyone who could not read or write and he set up schools so children could spend half a day in the mill and half a day in school. Outside work hours, the Strutts employed watchmen to look out for bad behaviour.


Belper had a sick club for female employees. By 1821, the Strutts had established the Belper Provision Company, a co-operative which distributed profits among customers in proportion to the value of their purchases. At Masson Mill, workers were expected to have two washes a week, on a Monday and Thursday. If they didnít wash they could be sent home.


Mill owners organised celebrations to encourage a sense of community and loyalty. Each September in Cromford, there was a festival of candle lighting when workmen and children paraded from the mills to the village. All adult workers were provided with ale and prizes were awarded for the best shopkeeper, best milking cow and best workers.



As a contrast, have a look at this page about housing in Preston in 1844. Look at the plan of the street and also this photograph. What are the differences between this housing, and the housing built by Strutt? Which would you have preferred to live in?

Using the information on this page, together with this article from the Derby Mercury, 1832 and the photographs on this page, list the various benefits that workers in Strutt's mills had.


Using the Workplace benefits spidergram worksheet, catergorise the benefits into different areas.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site | 
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