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Accommodating personalities: the role of purpose-built mill workers’ housing in communal identity

Author(s): Suzanne Lilley

Year: 2014

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At the end of the 18th century, Derbyshire in England witnessed unprecedented social upheaval with the introduction of the first water-powered cotton mills along the Derwent Valley. These ventures brought fame and fortune for the mill-owners; however, they also transformed the local demographic from dispersed agricultural hamlets into prominent industrial communities. Brought together within purpose-built settlements, mill workers gained not only innovative forms of accommodation (industrial workers’ housing) but new neighbours, social structure and communal amenities.This paper explores the contribution of workers’ housing within four textile settlements as the newly formed workforce established their identity. Often understood as a complex relationship between capitalist intentions and patron benevolence, the housing is commonly set against an agenda of moral reform. This research explores the intricate relations between owner, occupier and architectural form to ask how the inhabitants of these houses constructed a distinctive character which ultimately remains present within the settlements today.

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Accommodating personalities: the role of purpose-built mill workers’ housing in communal identity. Suzanne Lilley. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436758)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-19,08

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America