Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 10 years ago

what was the cottage industry during the Industrial Revolution?

2 Answers

  • 10 years ago
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    At the dawn of the eighteenth century, farming was the primary livelihood in England, with at least 75% of the population making its living off the land. (Kreis) This meant that many English families had very little to do during the winter months except sit around and make careful use of the food and other supplies that they stored up during the rest of the year. If the harvest had been smaller than usual or if any other unexpected losses had come about, the winter could be a very long, cold, and hungry one. The cottage industry was developed to take advantage of the farmers' free time and use it to produce quality textiles for a reasonable price. To begin the process, a cloth merchant from the city needed enough money to travel into the countryside and purchase a load of wool from a sheep farm. He would then distribute the raw materials among several farming households to be made into cloth (Cottage Industry). The preparation of the wool was a task in which the whole family took part. Women and girls first washed the wool to remove the dirt and natural oils and then dyed it as desired. They also carded the wool, which meant combing it between two pads of nails until the fibres were all pointed in the same direction. Next, the wool was spun into thread using a spinning wheel and wound onto a bobbin (this was often the job of an unmarried daughter; hence, the word "spinster" is still used today to describe an unmarried woman). The actual weaving of the thread into cloth was done using a loom operated by hand and foot; it was physically demanding work, and was therefore the man's job (The Textile Industry). The task of transforming raw wool into cloth could be done entirely by one household, or split between two or more (ie. spinning in one home, weaving in another). The merchant would return at regular intervals over the season to pick up the finished cloth, which he then brought back to the city to sell or export, and to drop of a new load of wool to be processed. The cottage industry proved to be profitable for the urban merchants, since they could sell the finished cloth for far more than they paid the famers to make it. The cottage industry helped to prepare the country for the Industrial Revolution by boosting the English economy through the increase of trade that occured as the country became well-known overseas for its high-quality and low-cost exports. Previously, tradesmen had done all the manufacturing themselves, so the idea of subcontracting was new and appealing. The cottage industry was also a good source of auxiliary funds for the rural people. However, many farming families came to depend on the enterprise; thus, when industrialization and the Agricultural Revolution reduced the need for farm workers, many were forced to leave their homes and move to the city.

  • 7 years ago

    what was the cottage industry

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