Strikes and Riots
In the first half of the 19th Century, wages fluctuated a great deal bringing unrest from the workforce.
In 1818, attempts to fix a minimum wage for textile workers failed and there was a strike of handloom weavers. In Burnley this resulted in a riot during which the prison was attacked and prisoners released.
By 1826, wages were so low and unemployment so common that “The Times” reported that people were digging up carcasses of diseased animals for food.
After about 1845 the cotton trade began to expand, leading to a rise in wages and some improvement in workers’ conditions, though there were still many more disputes in subsequent years.