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The Industries of Scotland
Miscellaneous Manufacturers in Metals


IN making steam-engines, mill-work, and general machinery the engineers of Scotland have acquired considerable repute. When the possibility of propelling vessels by steam was successfully tested on the Clyde, the enterprising mechanicians of the west did not neglect to improve the occasion. As soon as the demand for steam- vessels arose, they were ready to supply the motive power, and in that particular branch of work they have no superiors. The impetus given to the industrial arts by Watt's improvements on the steam-engine was accompanied by a demand for machinery to take the place of tardy hand-labour, and the inventive faculties of ingenious men were stimulated to the production of an endless variety of appliances for economising time and labour. The manufacture of these has engaged a large share of the attention of Scotch machine makers, and their handiwork is to be found in every important seat of industry in the world. Steam-engines of all kinds, locomotives, and printing, spinning, and weaving machinery, may be mentioned as among the more important productions of our engineering establishments.

No statement of the number of persons employed in the trade exists; but there cannot be fewer than 12,000 to 15,000 persons directly engaged in making engines and machines in Scotland. It is impossible to ascertain the value of the engines and machinery made. The annual export of machinery and millwork is valued at about half a million sterling. In 1866: it was L.414,810, the following being the amount from the different ports :—Glasgow, L.245,008; Leith, L.133,518; Greenock, L.17,529; Grangemouth, L.6024; Ardrossan and Troon, L.1355; Dundee, L.7137; other ports, L.4239. This, of course, does not include the value of engines of steamers built for ports beyond Scotland. The value of the engines of the steam vessels built on the Clyde is about L.400,000 annually; and the value of the proportion of the above for ports beyond Scotland generally reaches about L.300,000. An extensive trade is done in the manufacture of engineers' tools; yet many of the principal tools in the large engineering establishments bear the names of English makers.

Glasgow produces almost every article made of steel or iron, ranging between and including needles and 6000-ton iron-clad ships of war. The immense engineering establishments which abound in the city present many interesting sights, and illustrate in an extraordinary degree the capabilities of machinery to supplant human labour. The workmen are little more than passive agents. They assign work to the machines, and stand by to see that it is properly accomplished. Turning, boring, planing, and such operations are done by ingeniously-constructed mechanism, which performs the work with unfailing accuracy and astonishing speed. A bare enumeration of the variety of work carried on in the engineering and machine shops would fill a book, and the information would be of interest to few persons.

Without further allusion to the general trade, mention may be made in passing of one of the most recently established branches of machine-making. During the past ten years sewing-machines have been introduced into most manufactories and workshops devoted to the production of articles of clothing, and are gradually coming to be regarded as indispensable in the equipment of a house. The sewing-machine is a decided favourite with the ladies, and mothers who have to bring up large families on limited incomes find in it a "friend indeed." There are now many varieties of machines, the productions of the different patentees or makers having some peculiarity of form or movement to distinguish them. In various parts of Britain there are establishments devoted to the manufacture of the machines. Several of these are in Glasgow, and there is one in Edinburgh. The most extensive makers of sewing-machines in Scotland are Messrs E. E. Simpson & Co., Maxwell Street, Glasgow, who acquired patent rights for their machines in 1859, and have g one on turning them out in increasing numbers. The chief characteristics of the " Simpson " machines are the extreme simplicity of the mechanism, and the high speed at which they may be driven without danger of getting out of order. These qualities are most important, for nothing can be more annoying than having to suspend work at short intervals in order to have repairs made. Messrs Simpson & Co. employ about eighty workpeople, who produce from 300 to 400 machines a-month. There are indications that this branch of machine-making will undergo great extension. Already from 300 to 400 "Simpson" machines may be seen at work in individual manufactories of shirts, &c. Messrs Simpson & Co. obtained a medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1867 for the excellency of their sewing-machines. Since then they have established extensive agencies in Paris, Hamburg, Vienna, Brussels, &c.

A large proportion of the men belonging to the engineering trades are members of " The Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Millwrights, Smiths, and Pattern Makers," which is the most powerful trades- union in the country. It was formed in 1851 by, as its name indicates, the amalgamation of separate societies existing throughout the country. The number of original members was 11,829; and their collective funds, at the end of the first year, showed a balance in favour of the society of L.21,705. At the close of 1866, the members numbered 33,007, and the balance was L.138,113. The amount contributed to the various funds of the society in the sixteen years was L.535,573. The expenditure in 1866 was L.60,448, 5s. 4d., or L.1, 16s. 7-id. per member. The cost of management for the year was L.9313, or about 15 per cent. of the entire disbursements. The society had 33 branches in Scotland in 1866, embracing 3105 members, whose portion of the balance amounted to L.13,589. The annual report of the society for 1866 forms a volume of upwards of 400 pages. It affords no clue, however, to the amount expended in promoting objects relating to work and wages, unless that be represented by the first item in the accounts —namely, "Donations, contingent fund, sending members to situations, and beds for non-free members, L.22,782, 8s. 2d."

Though it is no part of the plan of this book to discuss trades-unions, a fact or two bearing on that subject may be here introduced. According to indubitable authority the men engaged in machine- making are, generally, better educated than they were five-and-twenty years ago, yet such is the effect of the "levelling" principle of trades-unions, that fewer men are now to be met with who show a superior knowledge of their business. Indeed, one employer recently stated that out of from 200 to 300 men in his employment he did not know one who would be able to take the foreman's place in the event of its becoming vacant—whereas, before trades-unions became so fashionable with the men, he could, from a smaller number in his workshops, select at least a dozen fit for the superior post.

The term of apprenticeship in the engineering trade is five years, the working hours are fifty-seven a-week, and the wages of journeymen from 20s. to 28s.

Intimately related to the engineers are the ironmoulders; but they have not joined the Amalgamated Society, preferring, it would seem, to hold by their own union. For a considerable time past, the relations between the union moulders and their employers have not been of a harmonious kind. About two years ago the masters found it necessary to associate, so that they might be able to meet the action of their workmen; and in order to protect their own interests they had, in 1868, to close their works against members of the union. That step, of course, embittered the feeling between the employers and employed; but rules so arbitrary as the following, which were applied by the moulders' union to jobbing foundries, could not be submitted to:—"No apprentice above fourteen years of age can be admitted into a foundry, and the apprenticeship must not be for a less period than seven years; no more apprentices can be admitted to a foundry than in the proportion of one to every three journeymen; non-union men cannot be employed; labourers cannot be permitted to do unskilled work in the moulding department; piece-work is prohibited." There are upwards of 3200 men in the union. Before the masters took action to protect them-selves, men working on time were paid 28s. 6d. to 30s. a-week of fifty-seven hours. Piece-men were allowed by the rules of their union to earn from 5s. to 7s. a-day, but not more, though an expert hand could nearly double that amount. No man was allowed to work overtime; and though at the hour for stopping work for the day metal should be within ten minutes of being ready to pour into the moulds, the men would walk away, and leave their masters to do with the metal as they liked. This rule against overtime caused serious loss in cases of accidents to machinery in factories, as though an hour's extra work would sometimes be sufficient to make all right, it would not be conceded, and the result was that the machinery and the hundreds of operatives who attended it had to wait the time of the moulders. With men who upheld and submitted to such rules it could not be expected that the public would sympathise; and when the masters took decided measures to free themselves from the operation of the moulders' union, they had the moral support of all reasonable men. In the spring of 1868 the union moulders, after being locked out for more than a month, agreed to accept the terms of the masters, which were as follow:— "That the employer shall be the judge of the kind of hands, and of the number and age of the apprentices he shall introduce into his foundry, and of the kind of work, whether piece-work or otherwise, at which labourers or other hands shall be employed."

Manufactures in copper, brass, &c., come next under notice. Traces of copper ore have been found in most counties in Scotland, and it would appear that from very early times attempts have been made to work the veins; but only in a few cases with success. The census of 1861 showed that there were one copper mine proprietor, and forty-one copper miners in the country; but the quantity of metal obtained at any time has not been great. In 1862 the mines of Scotland yielded 173 tons of ore, from which ten tons of fine copper, valued at L.1060, were extracted. In 1864 the quantity of ore got was only 14 tons, which yielded two tons of fine copper, valued at L.242. Though the supply of native copper is limited, a considerable quantity of the metal is manufactured in Scotland, both for home use and exportation. The value of the quantity sent abroad in 1866 was L.36,385. The largest articles made of copper are vacuum pans for sugar refineries, boilers for dye-works, fire-boxes for locomotives, and steam-pipes for marine engines. The metal is easily worked, and possesses properties which render it of great value in the arts. Upwards of 500 persons are engaged in working copper in Scotland, and these are chiefly employed in Glasgow. The wages range from 23s. to 27s. a-week.

Workers in brass are more numerous than the coppersmiths; but though the alloy is applied to a great variety of purposes both of use and of ornament, the labours of the Scotch artisans are chiefly confined to converting it into portions of machinery, and gas and water fittings. There is a brass-foundry in connection with every engineering establishment of any extent, the quantity of brass-work required for a locomotive or first-class marine engine being considerable. Four extensive brass-foundries in Edinburgh are chiefly engaged in making "plumber-work." There are upwards of 800 brass-founders, fitters, finishers, &c., in Edinburgh; in Glasgow, there are about 1000; and in all Scotland close upon 2500.

The brass-foundry of Messrs Milne and Son, Milton House, Canongate, Edinburgh, which embraces an extensive manufactory of gas metres, is the most extensive establishment of the kind in Scotland. It covers about an acre of ground, and upwards of 350 persons are employed. The brass-foundry and fitting-shops occupy an extensive range of buildings adjoining Milton House. In the foundry, taps, valves, joints, couplings, and the other portions of "plumber-work" made of brass are cast. The moulds are formed in sand, and, as the work is easy, a good deal of it is done by boys, who earn high wages. On leaving the foundry the castings are taken to the turners, who smooth them down and cut screws on such pieces as require them. Gas pendants and brackets are made by the fitters, for whom the materials are partly prepared by the founders and turners. All the parts that may require to be taken separate at any time are screwed together, and the others are soldered. In some cases the ornaments are cast, but more commonly they are struck by dies out of thin plates of metal. The finishers take up the work from the fitters, and burnish, lacquer, or bronze it. The framework of crystal gasaliers is electro-plated with silver and highly polished, so that the metal becomes almost invisible among the drops and prisms, and the lustre looks as if it were composed entirely of crystal. Messrs Milne & Son do a considerable trade in making lanterns and apparatus for lighthouses. One of their latest works of this kind was an earthquake-resisting lighthouse for Japan. The frames of lighthouse lanterns are chiefly made of gun-metal, and the domes of copper. They thus come to be very expensive, but their durability amply compensates for the cost. Lighthouse fittings and machinery have been brought to great perfection under the auspices of the Northern Lights Commissioners, who showed a magnificent collection of apparatus at the Paris Exhibition.

The gas-meter factory is a largo building three storeys in height. On the ground-floor the iron cases of the meters—which are cast elsewhere—are dressed and drilled. They are then raised to the floor above, where the drums, indices, and other parts are fitted, and the meters made ready for use. The upper floor is occupied by the tinsmiths, who make the drums and floats. Block tin only is used in those parts, and the metal is converted into sheets of any required thinness by means of a powerful rolling mill. From 1000 to 1500 meters are turned out every month. Most of them are for houses; but a considerable number of large ones for use in factories and public buildings are also made. Some of the latter are five feet in height, and are capable of supplying 600 burners; but even these are not the largest manufactured. Messrs Milne have made a umber of what are called "station-meters," used in gas-works for measuring the quantity of gas made. One recently constructed was a cube of fourteen feet. Station-meters are usually ornamented in front by pilasters, pediments, and other architectural details, and have in the centre a series of indices and a time-piece. The firm send large numbers of meters of all sizes to Australia, South America, and other foreign parts.

In another department gas-burners are made, chiefly of the "fish-tail" kind, which was invented many years ago by Mr J. B. Neilson, of Glasgow. They are fashioned from rods of fine cast-iron. The rods, which are a foot in length, are first turned smooth, and then cut into lengths. The pieces thus formed are drilled to a certain depth by boring machines which operate on six at a time. So far the work is done by women, who display great expertness in their respective parts. The next operation is to give the burners a final turning by which they are tapered towards the ends, and have a hollow formed in the centre of the top. The lines which indicate the size or number, and at the same time serve to ornament the burners, are also cut at this time. The holes in the top, through which the gas flows, are then drilled; and, after being tested, the burners are ready for the market. Several millions of burners are made annually in this workshop, some of them of a more complex kind than the "fish-tail."

A separate department of the establishment is devoted to the manufacture of complete sets of gas-making apparatus for use in private residences or factories. These are produced of various sizes, capable of supplying from twenty to an indefinite number of lights. It is found that a mansion can be much better lighted by gas made by the apparatus supplied by Messrs Milne than by the usual means of illumination used in country districts; and the advantage of cheapness in favour of gas is generally about twenty-five per cent.

Veins of lead ore exist and have been worked in half the counties of Scotland; but only in a few cases have the returns been sufficient to induce the continuation of mining operations for any length of time. Half a dozen mines are at present in operation, and the total produce ranges from 1200 to 1500 tons of pure lead per annum. The principal mines are at Leadhills in Lanarkshire and Wanlockhead in Dumfriesshire—the former belonging to the Earl of Hopetoun, and the latter to the Duke of Buccleuch. It is thought probable that lead was dug at Leadhills as early as the time of the Roman dominion; at all events, it is known that an important vein was discovered and worked in the year 1517. In the beginning of the present century the lead-miners enjoyed a period of great prosperity, and those at Leadhills alone turned out 1400 tons of metal annually, which at the price then current was worth L.45,000. The works are now carried on by a company, who are bound to pay to the proprietor every sixth bar of lead produced. The mines at Wanlockhead are about a mile and a half south from Leadhills, and are the most productive in the country. The foreign miners who were employed by James V. to seek for gold in the locality discovered the veins of lead; but the metal was too base to merit royal attention, and the mines were not opened until about the year 1680, when Sir James Stampfield began operations on a small scale. From that time to the present the mines have been worked with little interruption, but under the auspices of several different companies and individual adventurers. The last company was formed in 1755, and obtained leases of the whole mines for successive periods down till 1842. This company carried on the work of mining with great energy, and succeeded in discovering new and rich veins of ore. They also applied steam-power to keep the workings clear of water. In one year the metal raised brought L.47,000. When the last lease of the company expired in 1842, the Duke of Buccleuch took the working of the mines into his own hands, and has introduced improved apparatus for smelting the ore and extracting the silver from it. There are five principal veins of ore in the mines, and these have been worked to a depth of from 70 to 140 fathoms. In 1861 there were 538 lead-miners in Scotland. The population of the villages of Leadhills and Wanlockhead numbers 1600, all of whom are dependent on the lead-mines. Both villages are 1300 feet above the sea, and are about the dreariest inhabited places in the country. The miners and their families are, nevertheless, a cheerful and contented class of people. They are well supplied with churches and schools, and have a library of considerable extent.

Lead is chiefly used in the shape of sheets for covering roofs or of pipes for conveying water and gas. Its conversion into these forms is a special branch of trade, which is carried on in only three or four establishments in Scotland. The largest is that of Messrs T. B. Campbell & Co., Leith, in which several thousand tons of lead are worked up in the course of a year, besides a considerable quantity of tin and zinc. Machinery is extensively applied in the manufactory, and the fifty workmen employed are chiefly engaged in tending machines. The rolling-mill, in which the lead is formed into sheets, is about fifty yards in length; and the centre of the floor, from end to end, is occupied by a large bench or framework fitted with wooden rollers. In the centre of two divisions of this bench, each forty feet in length, are erected a pair of massive iron rollers, the distance between which is nicely regulated by screws and an index. The lead is prepared for rolling by melting down six tons of bdis at a time, and running the metal off into an iron mould, so as to form it into slabs seven feet square and about six inches thick. One of those slabs is laid upon the rolling bench, and passed between the iron rollers. The rollers are fitted with reversing gear, and every time the slab passes from one side to the other its thickness is reduced and its length increased. When the sheet extends to the length of one division of the bench, or forty feet, it is cut up into convenient pieces, to be further reduced in thickness by the same process. Sheet-lead, weighing from 3 lb to 8 lb per square foot, is the kind commonly used, but for special purposes heavier sheets are made. The rollers are driven by an engine of 20-horse power, and are capable of turning out eight tons of sheet-lead a day.

The making of lead or tin gas-tubing is carried on in another part of the establishment, and is an interesting process. It is done by means of hydraulic presses, which force the metal over a die of peculiar construction. In the centre of the lower part or sole of the press, which is composed of a huge mass of iron, is a circular chamber, in the middle of which is fixed a short rod of steel, of similar dimensions to the internal diameter of the tube to be made. The chamber is filled with molten metal, and a piston which fits exactly into the chamber, and is attached to the upper part of the press, is forced down upon the metal. The piston is pierced through perpendicularly by a hole of the same diameter as the outside of the tube, and the steel rod fixed in the lower part of the press enters this hole as the piston descends. It will thus be seen that there is between the sides of the bore and the rod a space equal to the substance of the tube, and that, when pressure is applied to the surface of the molten metal, it can escape only by passing up through that space. That is exactly what takes place, and the tube comes forth perfectly formed from the upper end of the piston. The chambers in the presses are of various sizes, those for lead pipes containing from two hundred-weight to four hundredweight of molten metal, and those for composition and tin tubes smaller quantities. Some of the presses are capable of making lead tubes five inches in diameter. The tubes of more than one and a quarter inch are made by "draming," on a drawbench, by means of an endless chain. A cylinder of metal, eighteen inches in length, of suitable diameter, with a hole through the centre of it, is taken by the drawer, who inserts a mandrel into it, and draws it through a series of dies of gradually diminishing diameter. The "ingot" is thus extended from a length of eighteen inches to nearly as many feet.

Zind has, by its cheapness and lightness as compared with lead, come extensively into use for covering roofs, and making rain-pipes and ridging; and Messrs Campbell & Co. have a considerable trade in the manufacture of the metal for those purposes. The zinc is imported in large sheets, which are cut into stripes of the required dimensions, and these are passed through machines which give them any shape that may be desired. Thus a stripe is drawn through a die on a machine, and comes out folded up into tubeform, with its edges bent respectively inward and outward. A fresh die is placed in the machine, and a mandrel in the now half-formed tube, which is sent through again. This time it comes out with the edges of the plate firmly locked together in a water-tight joint, and the whole finished more perfectly than it could be by any workman in as many hours as the minutes which it occupied the machine. Ridging pieces require but one operation, and are produced with great rapidity.
One of the most important purposes to which lead is applied is the manufacture of printing types, in which way it was used up-wards of four centuries ago. The extraordinary demand for books which has sprung up within recent times has given an impetus to the trade of the typefounder as well as to that of the publisher, and he has been encouraged to improve his productions until a degree of excellence has been attained which leaves little to be desired. The beauty of the letters now manufactured far surpasses that of the best made in any previous period in the history of typefounding, while their variety is being daily increased. In 1778 most of the types used in Scotland were made in Glasgow, and there was then only one typefounder in Edinburgh. The trade afterwards came almost entirely to Edinburgh, and a few years ago there were several typefounders in the city. Typefounding is now almost exclusively in the hands of two firms—Messrs Miller & Richard, Edinburgh, Her Majesty's Letter-Founders for Scotland; and Messrs James Marr & Co., also in Edinburgh. The former, which is the most extensive firm, commenced operations more than half-a-century ago, and has always had a reputation for producing elegant and durable types—a reputation acquired by devoting great care to the designing of styles, maintaining a superior class of workmen, and applying machinery wherever it was available. The foundry of the firm, which occupies an extensive range of buildings between Nicolson Street and Potterrow, presents a most interesting sight.

Upwards of 500 men and boys are employed in it, and these are aided by more than a hundred beautiful and ingeniously devised machines, set in motion by two steam-engines of 40 horse-power.

When it is desired to produce a "fount" or set of types of a new style or form, the first operation is to cut a set of punches. These are made of the finest steel, and the cutting is an operation of great nicety. There must be a punch for every letter, figure, point, and reference mark. In the case of type used in newspapers, there are usually five alphabets of each size—namely, ROMAN CAPITALS, SMALL CAPITALS, and "lower case;" ITALIC CAPITALS, and "lower case italics." Then there are accented letters, figures, points, and the like, so that the number of punches required to produce a complete set of types such as this book is printed with is not less than 250. When the punches are finished and tempered, the matrices for the face of the type are made. That is done by carefully pressing the punches on pieces of copper, which retain perfect reverse impressions. Each matrix is then "justified," or fitted in all respects for the "mould." When types were made by hand, the mould was enclosed in wood, to enable the workman to handle it; but now that machinery has superseded hand labour, the mould is made entirely of steel. It is composed of a number of parts fitted together with great accuracy, and is so constructed that it may be adapted to the various thicknesses of type; but a mould is required for each size or "body" of type. The matrix having been fixed into the mould, and all the parts adjusted, a series of experimental casts are made, in order to test the accuracy of the work. When the "justifier" is satisfied that all is correct, the mould is fixed into the casting-machine, and the charge of the work passes to the "caster" and his "dresser." Upwards of 100 casting-machines are constantly in operation in the foundry. The machines are adaptations of American and German inventions, which Messrs Miller & Richard purchased, and have brought to great perfection. Their mode of action is exceedingly simple. The type-metal—which is composed of certain proportions of lead, tin, and antimony—is contained in a cylindrical iron vessel, about six inches in diameter, and is kept in a state of fusion by a small fire burned in a compartment beneath. In the front of the metal-holder is a spout or opening. The working part of the machine, which contains the mould, receives an oscillating motion, which throws it alternately forward to the metal- holder, and backward to a tray which receives the types. When the mould is thrown forward the mouth of it is brought close upon the spout of the holder, a piston is raised in the vessel, and a quantity of metal sufficient to form the type is forced over into the mould. As soon as this takes place the mould is thrown backward, at the same time opened, and the type is ejected into the tray. One ' machine will accomplish as much work in a day as three or four expert hand-casters.

Notwithstanding all the care that is taken in adjusting the mould, and the great exactness with which the machine works, the types have to go through several operations before they are ready for the printer. When they come from the machine each has a taper piece of metal attached which has been formed in the throat of the mould. This is removed by boys, who, seated in rows at long tables, pick the types from a heap before them, and by pressing the superfluous piece smartly against the board break it off. The boys work with both hands simultaneously, and the rapidity of their movements is surprising. There also exist on the sides of the newly- formed types projections which are removed by the "rubbers," another class of boys, who take up the types one by one and pass both sides over a flat piece of sandstone. The next operation is "putting up," or arranging the types in long rows with the faces upward. In that position they are carefully examined, have the roughness left by breaking off the "tastable" or "jet" removed, and receive a few finishing touches. These last operations are called "dressing," and great care must be taken with them. When the dressers are done with them the types are arranged in " pages," or oblong square parcels—care being taken to keep the different letters separate. Before the types are finally passed they are "examined." The pages are opened up, and sample letters are taken out, which are subjected to the test of measurement by steel guages of nice construction, and to examination by means of a magnifying glass. One type must not differ from another in height, depth, or width, by even the thousandth part of an inch. To persons not practically acquainted with printing such exactness may appear superfluous; but were the types not thus carefully made, printing would be almost impossible, at least with such machines as Hoe's, which have now come into general use in the offices of daily news-papers.

It is not so advantageous for the printer to have letters above a certain size made of metal, and nearly all types above an inch and a half or two inches in length are formed of wood. In this department of the trade Messrs Miller & Richard have recently introduced various improvements. Instead of the letters being drawn on the blocks of wood by hand, they are printed, and the cutting is done by a machine somewhat similar in principle to that used for carving wood.

Manufacturers of printing types usually devote attention to making brass-rules, cases, and "furniture"—which is the printer's technical name for all the wooden or metal frame-work, &c., used in the trade. The lines which appear in tabular matter are formed by thin slips of brass set in among the types. In the joiner's shop composing-cases are made, all the parts of which are prepared by steam machinery. A number of men are employed in making and repairing the machines used in the establishment.

The division-of-labour principle is largely applied. There is no regular term of apprenticeship in the foundry. Boys are taken in at thirteen years of age, and from "breakers-off," "putters-up," and "rubbers," come to be "casters," and ultimately "dressers." There is a mixture of time and piece-work; and the following may be taken as the general rate of wages:—Boys—breakers-off, 2s. 6d. to 4s. a-week; rubbers, 10s. to 18s.; putters-up, 4s. to 7s. 6d. Men— justifiers, 30s.; machinemakers, 27s.; casters, 22s.; dressers, 28s.; workers in wood, 26s. The time worked is fifty-seven hours a-week.


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