In my last post I made a reference to a particularly dangerous looking machine in the Masson Mills Textile Museum. This machine, a cotton balebreaker, was known as ‘The Devil’ and it is shown in this photo. Cotton straight from the bale was passed into this machine where vicious looking rotating spikes opened and cleaned the cotton. This was the first machine in the process of cotton production.
Apart from the open gears it looks fairly harmless when at rest, but when you consider that its purpose was to break down the compressed cotton bales, ready to start turning them into yarn, it is clear that anybody coming into contact with its active workings would come to a sticky end. Numerous accidents occurred. We were told that in the old days, the Mill management would have little sympathy for anyone injured whilst working. It is even alleged, that they sued the parents of one child worker, who was pulled into the workings of this machine and killed, for spoiling the batch of cotton.
The Masson Mill was producing cotton from 1783 until 1991, and has since been developed into a working textiles museum.