The Greg’s were better than most employers of their time as they were good to their workers. They knew that if they were good to their workers, they would get a better quality of work from them. If their workers were healthy and happy the Greg’s knew they would work faster making more of a profit for them. With their workers being happy there was no chance of a strike which meant their profit was always increasing. The Greg’s were better employers than most because of how they ran their mill compared to other employers.
All mills needed children to work as there was a shortage of workers and children had small, nimble fingers which were needed in the mill. The pauper apprentices at Styal were provided with an apprentice house which had a superintendent and his wife to look after them. Unlike other mills where the pauper apprentices sometimes had to sleep on the mill floor or very nearby the mill owner. The apprentice house split up the girls and boys dormitories where there were two to a bed. Other mills which housed apprentices didn’t split the girls and boys up and they didn’t provide anyone to look after them.
The pauper apprentices at the Greg’s all received an education which took place on a Sunday. The other mills didn’t provide any sort of education for any of the pauper apprentices. The pauper apprentices at Styal never had any spare time. In the time that they were not working or in school they done chores. The boys would help with the gardening and looking after the allotments while the girls made clothes and cleaned the apprentice house. The Greg’s made sure all their pauper apprentices were healthy by providing a doctor who gave them regular health checks.
This was unlike all other mills. The Greg’s also fed and clothed their pauper apprentices. Every Sunday they were given a change of shirt. Every day they were given 3 main meals and bread for supper. The meals consisted of porridge, home grown vegetables and meat which was usually bacon. The Greg’s also white washed the apprentice house every 6 months and aired the rooms daily. In other mills the children were badly treated. They used the shift system where one shift of children was working while another was sleeping and vice versa.
The children were given board and lodgings in return for signing an indenture saying they would remain at that mill until they turned 18. The punishments that the Greg’s used were not as harsh as what other employers used. The punishments used for the children by the Greg’s were solitary confinement for the children who ran away; they also threatened the girls with cutting their hair off. Fines were the most common punishment with children as they had to work extra hours for free to pay off the fines. For the adults the punishments would be fines or in extreme cases adults may be sacked.
The Greg’s never used physical punishments. In other mills employers were harsher with punishments. To punish children many employers beat them, put weights on their ears and hung them by their belts from the rafters on the ceiling over the machines. Adults were not allowed to leave the room without permission, talk, sing or whistle. These would be punished with fines. The mills were very dangerous and unhealthy places. Many people went deaf in the mills due to the noisy vibrations from the machinery. Deformities were common due to all the bending over the machines.
The Greg’s prevented many accidents by turning off the machines when the children went scavenging underneath. In the other mills the machines were kept on when the children went scavenging causing accidents especially if the children fell asleep underneath the machines. Machines were unguarded which meant the workers could get caught in the machines. In 1833 the Greg’s fenced in their machines preventing more accidents. The Greg’s claimed to only have had one accident involving machinery in an interview in 1833 with the superintendents which looked after the apprentices.
The children at Quarry Bank Mill were well looked after. On their days off the apprentices were made to go to school by the Greg’s, the children whose parents worked for the Greg’s could also get an education if their parents wanted them to, so all the children got the chance of an education. The boys were taught reading, writing and basic arithmetic whilst the girls were taught reading and writing. This was unlike the other mills of this time who only wanted the children to be able to do their jobs. They didn’t care whether or not they could read or write.