Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cash's 100 Houses: a Failed Experiment

John and Joseph Cash began construction of a cottage based factory just outside Coventry  in 1856 as a way of giving individual weavers access to the advantages of mechanized looms without having to be employed in a factory. One hundred three story houses built around a square were planned.  The top floor of each house would be a workshop and each workshop would be connected to all the other workshops by steam-driven shafts. The weavers would live in the bottom two floors below their workshop and pay both rent and for a portion of the power needed to run all the mechanized looms. In the end, however, only 48 houses were built on two sides of the proposed square.
When there was insufficient work for all the weavers, trouble developed since steam still had to be raised to drive the machinery for those weavers who had work and those who didn't have work were obligated to pay their portion even if they were unable and/or unwilling to pay.

As a result of the problems that ensured, the access between the workshops and the living quarters were removed and the top floor became a factory with the entrances from the cottages below closed off. Workers now entered  through the main gates as employees rather than semi-independent weavers.  The grand experiment had failed.

Later, further factory buildings were added within the square and Cash's continued on site for many years.

Some buildings were lost during WWII, leaving 37  of the original 48 cottages.

 Cash's factory moved from the site in 1984 and the houses were taken over and converted to private residences by a housing association.

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