Online course in History

Working Lives in the Factories and Mills: Textile History and Heritage

Discover the lives of textile industry workers during the Victorian era, and better understand Britain's industrial heritage.

Working Lives in the Factories and Mills: Textile History and Heritage

  • Duration 4 weeks
  • Weekly study 2 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $59 Find out more

Learn how textile workers' lives evolved alongside the textile industry

On this course, you’ll explore the relationship between textile factory labour in the past and British industrial heritage today.

You’ll delve into a fascinating period of development for one of Britain’s key industries and discover how workers’ lives changed throughout the Victorian period, as they adjusted to new professional identities, workplaces and technology.

Through video, you’ll be introduced to four different millworkers’ heritage sites: New Lanark, Stanley Mills in Perthshire, Verdant Works in Dundee and Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire, as you explore their history.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 16 secondsHello. I'm Dr Michael Sanders from the University of Manchester and I'm working with Professor Kirstie Blair on this course which is about working lives in textile mills in the nineteenth century. I'm Professor Kirstie Blair of the University of Strathclyde and we're here at Quarry Bank Mill in Styal, Cheshire a National Trust property and one of Britain's most important surviving properties from Britain's industrial revolution. This is one of four properties that we're going to be working with through this course. We'll also be visiting New Lanark World Heritage site, Stanley Mills in Perthshire owned by Historic Scotland and Verdant Works in Dundee, run by the Dundee Heritage Trust.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 secondsAnd we'll be offering you an experiential rather than technical history of the industrial revolution, by which I mean that we're more concerned with exploring the lives of the people that actually worked in the mill such as these mill girls that you can see in the photograph I'm holding, rather than an account of the machine and the development of those machines.

What topics will you cover?

  • Explore the range of activities involved in working in factories and mills in the long nineteenth century, and how these changed during the period covered by the course.
  • Assess representations of millworkers from this period, as well as writings by the workers themselves, and discuss how they relate to wider questions of class, gender, and professional identity.
  • Investigate how museums represent factory workers.
  • Locate material relevant to this field through online archives.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Discuss the range of activities involved in working in textile factories in the long nineteenth century, and how these changed during the period covered by the course.
  • Assess representations of working lives in textile factories and surviving texts and artefacts from the period, and discuss how they relate to wider questions of class, gender, and professional identity.
  • Compare written and oral material on workers’ lives within the appropriate historical and material contexts.
  • Engage with online and other archives in order to locate material relevant to the history of textile factories and workers’ lives.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in working-class history and literature, the Victorian period, industrial heritage or museums, and those exploring family or local histories related to this industry.

Who will you learn with?

Kirstie Blair

Kirstie Blair

I am a Chair in English Studies at the University of Strathclyde and currently lead the research project 'Piston, Pen & Press: Literary Cultures in the Industrial Workplace.'

Michael Sanders

Michael Sanders

I teach English Literature at the University of Manchester and have an abiding interest in the culture and politics of the British Working Class Movement in the Long Nineteenth Century.

Who developed the course?

The University of Strathclyde is a leading international technological university located in Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, committed to useful learning.

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.

Free
$0

Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 6 weeks

Upgrade
$59

Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • A print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible
New

Unlimited (New!)
$239 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.