Donington Mill History, The Law & Education

Situated on the east side of Station Road, Castle Donington, like so many villages west of Nottingham, has a history of lace, silk and hosiery manufacture. The local population trebled between 1800 and 1840, by which time there were 110 small frame work knitting factories around the village.

Donington Mill was a silk mill, built around 1870 by John Watson & Son, major Nottingham textile manufactures. It is constructed of brick with very large cast iron windows to provide the workers inside with as much light as possible. Note the buttress on the right of the second window at this end, added in the early 20th century to strengthen the building. Inside, cast iron columns hold up the roof and wooden floors.Conditions at this mill were very hard and much child labour was employed in the 1870s. The Factories Act of 1847 had limited work in textile mills for children under 18 years old and women were limited to 58 hours per week and 10 hours per day, but the law excluded lace and silk production. There were great tensions between education professionals and the mill owners, who were happy to use children as young as five and have a minimum 12-hour working day.

It took the Factory Act of 1878 to apply standard factory worker hours to all trades. Even then, conditions were tough, with women limited to 56 hours per week, no child under the age of 10 to be employed and those between 10 and 14 employed for half days only. At least education was made compulsory for those under 10 for the first time.

It is interesting to thing about the place of Donington Mill History, The Law & Education across the United Kingdom.  Who knew, such important historical legislation would emanate from the small town of Castle Donington.