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A Wise Factory Owner

As to the conclusions I have come to from the working of my mill for 11 instead of 12 hours each day, as previously, I am quite satisfied that both as much yarn and cloth may be produced at quite as low a cost in 11 as in 12 hours. It is my intention to make a further reduction to 10½ hours, without the slightest fear of suffering loss. I find the hands work with greater energy and spirit; they are more cheerful, and happy. All the arguments I have heard in favour of long time appear based on an arithmetical question - if 11 produce so much, what will 12 or 15 hours produce? This is correct, [for] the steam-engine, but try this on the horse, and you will find he cannot compete with the engine, as he requires time to rest and feed.

There is more bad work made the last one or two hours of the day than the whole of the first nine of ten hours. About 20 years ago, we had many orders for a style of goods. We had about 30 young women in our Manchester warehouse; I requested that they would work [instead of 11] 12 hours. At the end of the week, I found they had not a mere trifle more work done' but, supposing there was some incidental cause for this, I requested they would work 13 hours the following week, at the end of which they had produced less instead of more work. The overlooker invited me to be in the room with them the last hour of the day. They were exhausted and making bad work and little of it. I therefore reduced their time two hours, as before. Since that time I have been an advocate for shorter hours of labour.

Parliamentary Papers 1845, XXV, pp. 456-7
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