Report on Female Factory

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
23 December 1843


During the debate in the Legislative Council on Thursday night, relative to the Petition from certain unemployed females, complaining of the injurious competition they sustained, by the inmates of the Female Factory being employed at washing and needle work, we perceive that the Colonial Secretary is reported to have said that “Operations in which extensive machinery was required had never answered well in prisons, and the manufactory of cloth having thus been abandoned, the women were employed in breaking stones.” From inquiries which we have instituted, we learn, that during the period which Parramatta cloth was manufactured at the Factory, that Establishment more than cleared itself, and the women were all fully employed; the machinery requisite is of the most simplest nature, and any ordinary carpenter can make it. We have heard that 160 spinning wheels were made by contract at one pound each, and the looms were manufactured in the Lumber Yard. The wool went into the Factory in bales, and being there manufactured into cloth, was made up into slops for the Government men. This system would be peculiarly advantageous to the colony at this time, as much of the refuse wool, which would scarcely pay the freight home, would thus be brought into use, thereby benefiting the poor flockmaster who can scarcely obtain an adequate advance upon good samples, to say nothing of the refuse, besides creating a demand for oil, the produce of our bay fisheries. A large manufacture might thus be established, and no doubt a market might be found in Van Diemen’s Land to supply the rapidly increasing prison population there. We see no valid reason why the manufacture of blankets should not also be added; the Colonial blankets of the good old days were famous for durability and warmth, and the demand would be very extensive. We trust his Excellency will give this project his most favourable consideration.

See Original: “THE FEMALE FACTORY,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 23 December 1843, p.2