+ ~ -
 
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
 
Report an Error
Go!
 
Go!
 
TOC
 

liquid is dropping upon the metal, and
upon the work-woman's fingers, from a can
above. It is a mixture of soapsuds and
oil, which dribbles from a spout, and keeps
the metal from becoming too hot for the
touch.

We have now the shank of the screw, and
its neat polished head: but there is no slit in
the head wherein to insert the screw-driver;
and the shank is plain and blunt. The next
thing is to "nick" the head. This part of
the business used to be done by working the
"nicking" machine with treadles. By the
modern method, a barrelsomewhat like that
of a barrel-organ, but pierced with holes, instead
of being stuck over with upright bits of
wirerevolves slowly, so that every row of
holes is brought under the line of a cleaver,
which descends to make the cleft across the
heads of the screws in a row beneath. It is
the business of the steam-engine to turn the
barrel, and send down the cleaver: it is that
of the women to stick the screws into the
holes in the barrel,—as they would put pins
in rows into a pincushion. They do this with
quickness and dexterity, as the empty holes
come up; and the notched screws fall
out by their own weight, on the other side,
as it descends with the revolution of the
barrel.

This is all very well, as far as it goes: but
the shank is still plain and blunt, and perfectly
useless. The grand operation of
"worming" remains.  This also is women's
work; and we may see one hundred and
twenty women at a time busy about it.  The
soapsuds and oil are still dropping upon their
fingers and their work; and the job looks
anything but a tidy one, while we regard the
process alone. But it is different when we
stand aside, and survey the room. Then we
see that these six score women are neatly
dressed; hair smooth, or cap cleanhandkerchief
or little shawl nicely crossed over,
and fastened behind; faces healthy, and
countenances cheerful. These women are
paid by piecework; and they can easily earn
ten shillings per week. Their business still is
to feed the machineryto present the heads
of the screws to a vice which seizes them,
and carries them forwardthen back again,
and again forwardas often as is necessary
to have the worming made deep enough. As
the shank is pressed, in its passage forward,
against the cutter which grooves out the steel
between the "thread,"—which, in other words,
"worms" it,—the filings curl away and drop
off, like so much wood, or rasped cheese-rind.
It is wonderful to see this rasping of steel.
But we were informed that there will be something
hereafter more curious still to be seen.
On these premises, there is at work now some
machinery which is shut up from prying eyes,
by which the shank is picked up, wormed,
and dropped, without being touched by human
hands: and strange it must be to see
the screw, not a quarter of an inch long,
picked up by a metallic gripe, and the largest
massive and heavy as they arecarried
onward, again, and again, and again, as the
depth of their worming requires.

After this comes the cooking in sawdust;
and the drying and bolting (as a Miller would
say) of the finished screws in sieves; and the
counting, and the packing. They are counted
by weight, of course. The packing is a pretty
affair. A nimble-fingered woman throws
down half a-dozen or more screws, according
to size, on a square paper, the heads lying
all one way; and then the same number,
with the heads lying the other way, and
the shanks falling between the first. Then
the same number are laid across; and so the
pile is built up into a square, which is kept
compact by the wall of round heads on all the
four sides. The paper is folded over, and
the square packet is passed to a neighbour,
to be tied up. With a dexterous twist of the
string she fastens on a specimen screw, ties
the knot, and passes on the packetto be
sent to Germany, or almost anywhere in the
world where men are screwing anything
togetheralways excepting the United
States. Very few are sent there; for, as
we were again told here, America rivals us,
or, as would be said across the Atlantic,
"America flogs the world" in screw-making.
There are eight houses in Birmingham
employed in this manufacture: and this was all
we could learn of the amount of production,
No one seems to know how many are made
in England; for no one call tell what proportion
the produce of the little manufactories
bears to these larger ones,

Seeing whole bins full of steel filings, and
copper, and brass, we inquired what became
of them. They are sold; the steel being
worth little, and the brass much. The brass
comes in at the cost of ninepence per pound;
and the refuse goes out, as filings, at fivepence
per pound. After the noise and dirt of the
earlier processesthe oily wheels, the greasy
candles in dark places, the smutty forge, and
the yellow dropping from the cans, there is
something pleasant in the aspect of the last
stages;—the barrels of shining brass filings;
the quiet light room where two or three neat
women are fingering polished screws, surrounded
by drab and brown paper, while
behind them are compartments completely
covering the wall, filled with their square
drab packets.

As we turned away from the hundreds of
women thus respectably earning their bread,
we could but hope that they would look to it
that there was no screw loose in their household
ways, that the machinery of their daily
life might work as truly and effectually as
that dead mechanism which is revolving under
their care, for so many hours of every day.
It is much to see dead mechanism producing
strength and convenience, in a flow as constant
as that of the stream from the cavern in the
rock: but it is much more to see vital comfort

Profile Information

Application afterLoad: 0.000 seconds, 0.28 MB
Application afterInitialise: 0.015 seconds, 1.00 MB
Application afterRoute: 0.018 seconds, 2.05 MB
Application afterDispatch: 0.061 seconds, 3.65 MB
Application afterRender: 0.099 seconds, 3.99 MB

Memory Usage

4218512

21 queries logged

  1. SELECT *
      FROM jos_session
      WHERE session_id = '962eda0a90ab4e1e43fd608b976259ad'
  2. DELETE
      FROM jos_session
      WHERE ( TIME < '1660108038' )
  3. SELECT *
      FROM jos_session
      WHERE session_id = '962eda0a90ab4e1e43fd608b976259ad'
  4. INSERT INTO `jos_session` ( `session_id`,`time`,`username`,`gid`,`guest`,`client_id` )
      VALUES ( '962eda0a90ab4e1e43fd608b976259ad','1660109838','','0','1','0' )
  5. SELECT *
      FROM jos_components
      WHERE parent = 0
  6. SELECT folder AS TYPE, element AS name, params
      FROM jos_plugins
      WHERE published >= 1
      AND access <= 0
      ORDER BY ordering
  7. SELECT id
      FROM jos_toc_pages
      WHERE alias = 'page-141'
  8. SELECT id
      FROM jos_toc_pages
      WHERE alias = 'page-141'
  9. SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_pages
      WHERE id = '202'
  10. UPDATE jos_toc_pages
      SET hits = ( hits + 1 )
      WHERE id='202'
  11. SELECT template
      FROM jos_templates_menu
      WHERE client_id = 0
      AND (menuid = 0 OR menuid = 62)
      ORDER BY menuid DESC
      LIMIT 0, 1
  12. SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_pages
      WHERE alias = 'page-141'
      AND id_volume = 6
  13. SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_volumes
      WHERE id = '6'
  14. SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_magazines
      WHERE id = '90'
  15. SELECT id, title,alias
      FROM jos_toc_pages
      WHERE  id_volume = 6
      ORDER BY ordering ASC
  16. SELECT id, DATE, id_page
      FROM jos_toc_magazines
      WHERE  id_volume = 6
      ORDER BY ordering ASC
  17. SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_parameter
      WHERE `group` = 'voice'
  18. SELECT *
      FROM jos_toc_parameter
      WHERE `group` = 'voice'
  19. SELECT id, title,alias
      FROM jos_toc_pages
      WHERE id_volume = 6
      AND ordering > 151
      ORDER BY ordering ASC
      LIMIT 1
  20. SELECT id, title,alias
      FROM jos_toc_pages
      WHERE id_volume = 6
      AND ordering < 151
      ORDER BY ordering DESC
      LIMIT 1
  21. SELECT id, title, module, POSITION, content, showtitle, control, params
      FROM jos_modules AS m
      LEFT JOIN jos_modules_menu AS mm
      ON mm.moduleid = m.id
      WHERE m.published = 1
      AND m.access <= 0
      AND m.client_id = 0
      AND ( mm.menuid = 62 OR mm.menuid = 0 )
      ORDER BY POSITION, ordering

Language Files Loaded

Untranslated Strings Diagnostic

None

Untranslated Strings Designer

None