"Fatal Mill Accident An inquest was held on
Monday at the Wool Pack Inn on the body of Nanny Walker, who came by her death
on the previous Friday in a very sudden and awful manner.
It appears from
the evidence given, that it is customary for the girls who fill the scribbling
machines to pick the small wool flakes from the scribblers during their dinner
hour : the unfortunate deceased who was so engaged near the staircase while the
machinery was in motion, by a false step caught her foot in the band which
connects the machine with the engine and was instantly precipitated (from the working floor down two flights of
stairs on to the ground floor below), a height of 40 feet, dislocating her neck
and causing a compound fracture of the skull.
sufferer lingered until five o'clock the following day when death terminated
her sufferings. A verdict in accordance with the evidence was returned."
Image courtesy of the British Newspaper Archives, research by Edwy Harling
Further text by Christine Lovedale
The Woolpack Inn where the inquest was held is on New
Scribbling or carding machines were fed short woollen
fibres to produce a thin continuous length of wool called a sliver, during the
spinning process these are drawn out and twisted into yarn.
Inspectors at Gill Mill in Yeadon reported in 1834 reported "The working
day began at 6am and finished at 7pm. On weekdays half an hour was allowed for
breakfast, one hour for dinner and a half hour for "drinking". During
mealtimes the three scribblers had to attend to the machines in turn, with 2
minutes on duty and 4 minutes sitting down"
were often in debt to the banks and were reluctant to spend money on safety
measures such as rails round machinery. Later Factory Acts put emphasis on the
safety of operatives.