“Near Utopian Conditions”

Burnley Mills 1

A document was found in a demolished structure in Lichfield, England dated 1852. It lists the rules and regulations that the employees of a Burnley cotton mill office must follow.

  1. Godliness, Cleanliness and Punctuality are the necessities of good business.
  2. The firm has reduced hours of work and clerical staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on week-days.
  3. Daily prayers will be held each morning in the main office. The clerical staff will be present.
  4. Clothing must be worn of sober nature. The clerical staff will not disport themselves in raiment of bright colours, nor will they wear hose, unless in good repair.
  5. Overshoes and top-coats may be worn in the office. Scarves and headgear may be worn in inclement weather.
  6. A stove is provided for the benefit of the clerical staff; coal and wood must be kept in the locker. It is recommended that each member of the clerical staff brings four pounds of coal each day during cold weather.
  7. No members of the staff may leave the room without permission from Mr. Rogers. The calls of nature are permitted without permission and the clerical staff may use the garden below the second gate. This area must be kept in good order.
  8. No talking is allowed during business hours.
  9. The craving for tobacco, wines or spirits is a human weakness and is forbidden to all members of the clerical staff.
  10. Now that the hours have been drastically reduced the partaking of food is allowed between 11:30 a.m. and noon, but work on no account ceases.
  11. Members of the clerical staff will provide their own pens. A new sharpener is available on application to Mr. Rogers
  12. Mr. Rogers will nominate a senior clerk to be responsible for the cleanliness of the main office and private office. All boys and juniors will report to him 40 minutes before prayers and will remain after closing hours for similar work. Brushes, brooms, scrubbing brushes and soap are provided by the management.
  13. The new increased weekly wages are; junior boys to 11 years 1s. 4d., boys to 14 years 2s. 4d., juniors 4s. 8d., clerks 10s. 9d., senior clerks after 15 years service with the owner 21s.

The document further noted, “The owners recognise the generosity of the new labour laws but will expect a great rise in output to compensate for these near utopian conditions.”


Nottingham Evening Post, August 28, 1971

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

12 thoughts on ““Near Utopian Conditions”

  1. Dear Sirs,
    If you ask me this is far too lenient, no doubt the employees within this sinful ‘utopia’ are allowed to breathe whenever they feel like it. I also see no rule banning the wearing of these new-fangled bicycle clips. This is what happens when employers let standards slip. Disgraceful. I suggest a return to Victorian values.
    The Rt Hon. T. May


  2. about utopian town by or after the lumiers age : near venice the count Alvise on the last years of xxviii early xix century founded a small town called Alvisopoli. this town exists also nowadays it is near the river Tagliamento in the same location where ernest hemingway wrote his book across the river into the trees.

    i thank you for give me the occasion for this remembrance abt utopia thoughts. i like very much.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed reading this. I imagine the clerical staff was male, as they could use the ‘garden” for “calls of nature.” Yikes. My grandparents worked in a silk mill in the early 1900s in Paterson, NJ. I wonder what the rules were there! Thanks also for liking my blog post, Natural Views.


  4. “Near utopian conditions.” Wow, I never knew that could be considered utopian. I am guessing the owner had a different meaning for the term when it came to his own lifestyle.


  5. #11 in 2016, Electrical Lord wantss to enforce this- i.e. all staff bring own stationery to work. Salary includes staff paying for it! No pay increase and the crazy moron wanted to do it! So, I can imagine these rules will be revered by crazy morons😝

    Liked by 1 person

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