Lancashire, 1833, Grahams Cotton Mill
I saw it.
The whirring of the machinery and the body of an innocent, screaming child is never a pretty combination. But this time was worse. Worse for me, worse for my family, worse for the workforce. That day, the overseer committed a horrendous deed that would affect the atmosphere of the factory forever.
It was just an ordinary day at first, waking up at 5a.m., plagued with fatigue, running to the factory to avoid being whipped.
I was with my younger siblings, Robert and Vera, for around two hours before my brother was dragged to the cardroom, and my sister appointed the job of the scavenger. I, Marie Longton, was weaving at the looms. It was never easy; our fingers ached, our backs were sore, we were incredibly deformed, however it was always worth it to receive that tuppence.
Worth it to put our food on the table.
Worth it to keep Mother happy.
Father is no longer with us. He was a coal miner, and he helped us. Of course he had breathing problems, he was deformed, but he was still our father. It hit Mother emotionally when he suffocated from the dust underground.
But at least he died a saviour.
It also hit Vera emotionally. She would wake up in the night, screaming for her dad. This affected her sleep, and this resulted in having constant black marks across her back and arms.
That day, she was late five days in a row. The overseer stormed up to her, his face as red as a plum. He began shouting at her, hissing and spitting at her, saying things that cannot be repeated. She shouted back.
She didn't know of her unfortunate fate.
Time slowed. All of a sudden, there was a scream. A single scream. Silence.
She was deliberately pushed into the raging machine behind her.
Death at just five years old.
Five days later...
That dreadful overseer got executed, thank goodness. It was such rare an occurrence that the newspapers were all over it. They glamorised it and made it look all so much more dramatic. Good. He got what he needed.
A warning to all overseers out there.
The government gave us £200 for mourning and as a goodwill gesture. But nothing can ever stop the pain that destructed my family, that destroyed my soul within.