A Walk from London to John O'Groat's eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 348 pages of information about A Walk from London to John O'Groat's.

Hosiery and lace are the two great manufacturing interests of Nottingham, and the tons of these articles it turns out yearly for the world are astonishing in number and value.  A single London house employs 3,000 hands in the town and immediate vicinity upon hosiery alone for its establishment.  Lace now seems to lead the way, and there are whole streets of factories and warehouses busy with its manufacture and sale.  Perhaps no fabric in the world ever tested the ingenuity and value of machinery like this.  The cost has been reduced, from the old hand-working to the present process, from three dollars to three cents a yard!  I think no machinery yet invented has been endowed with more delicate functions of human reason and genius than that employed upon the flower-work of this subtle drapery.  Until I saw it with my own eyes, I had concluded that the machinery invented or employed in America for setting card-teeth was the most astute, and as nearly approaching the faculties of the human mind in its apparent thought-power, as it was reverent and safe to carry anything made of iron and steel, or made by man at all.  To construct a machine which should pass between its fingers a broad belt of leather and a fine thread of wire, prick rows of holes across the breadth of the leather, bend, cut off, and insert the shank ends of the teeth clear through these holes, and clinch them on the back side, and pour out a continuous, uninterrupted stream of perfectly-teethed belt, all ready for carding,—­this, I fancied, was the ne plus ultra of mechanical inventions.  But it is quite surpassed by the lace-weaving looms of Nottingham, that work out, to exquisite perfection, all the flowers, leaves, vines and vein-work of nature.  It was wonderful to see the ductility of cotton, as here exemplified.  The bobbins, which, I suppose, are a mere refinement upon the old hand-thrown shuttle, are of brass, about the size of half-a-crown.  A groove that will just admit the thin edge of a case-knife, is cut into the rim of the little wheel, about one quarter of an inch deep.  A cotton thread, 120 yards in length, and strong enough to be twitched about and twisted by a score of vigorous, chattering, iron fingers, is wound around in this groove.  But it would be idle to attempt a description of either the machinery or the process.

I went next into a large establishment for dyeing, dressing, winding and packing the lace for market.  It was startling to see the acres of it dyed black for mourning.  Really there seemed enough of it to drape the whole valley of the shadow of death!  It was an impressive sight truly.  If there were other establishments doing the same thing, Nottingham must turn out weeds of grief enough for several millions of mourning widows, mothers, sisters and daughters in a year.  I ascended into the dressing-room, I think they called it, in the upper story, where there was a piece containing one twenty-fifth of an acre of lace undergoing a fearful operation for a human

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A Walk from London to John O'Groat's from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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