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Spinning School

Extract from an account of a spinning school at Oakhan
in the county of Rutland by the Earl of Winchilsea
pp 042-046 dated 16th March 1797.

Rules for the Spinning School at Oakham, Rutland.
1st - All inhabitants of the parish to be admitted.
2nd - No persons to receive relief from the parish upon account of their families, who refuse to send their children to the school unless they can prove, to the satisfaction of the overseers, that they can employ them to more advantage elsewhere.
3rd - They are to be instructed gratis in spinning jersey and linen and knitting, those who choose it, in reading, and those who can bring work with them, in sewing.
4th - The hours of work to be from eight to one and from two to seven; from one to two, dinner and rest. No work after dinner on Saturdays.
5th - A dinner to be provided for those, who choose to dine at the school on the working days; for which they are to pay each six-pence per week.
6th - In case of illness, the dinner may be sent for to their 
7th - The portions, if the dinner is sent out, to be as follows
One pint and a half of peas porridge
ditto of rice milk
ditto of rice broth
One pound and a half of potatoe pudding.
Those, who dine at the school, to have as much as they choose to eat, and a quarter of a pound of bread each; except on the pudding and rice milk days, when no bread is allowed.
8th - The whole of the earnings to belong to the children.

A spinning school had been established at Oakham in 1787; but till this arrangement took place the children used to go home to their dinners, which was attended with great inconvenience in wet and bad weather and with loss of time; as frequently, when the weather was very bad they did not return after dinner; and sometimes did not go at all.

In order to establish the present system, the dinners, for the
first fortnight, were given gratis, and the parents invited to 
taste them; after that they were informed that the children of 
those who approved of the plan, might dine there, upon paying sixpence a week; and those whose parents preferred their dining at  home might continue to do so. The whole of the parents approved much of their dining at the school; and the whole number, which amounts to between 60 and 70, dine there, and pay their money. They do more work in the week by these means, and get a much better dinner than they could at home. Several children come there, whose
parents do not receive relief.

By purchasing the different articles wholesale, and by the use of barley bread ( which is customary at that place) and by means of a Rumford copper, the expence for the dinners and fuel has never  exceeded the sixpence per head.

The peas porridge, and pudding, are taken from Count Rumford's book; with some alterations, which make them rather more expensive, but certainly better.

I conceive that the success, which has hitherto attended this plan, is owing to its having been left to the option of the parents, whether their children should dine there or not. 

The Reports of the Society for Bettering the Condition
and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor. Vol 1 1798 446 pp
Submitted by Alan Longbottom

Page updated March 12, 2008 by Rossbret