Trouble at Mill
Video, 7 minutes 37 seconds
Sarah Hartley was a Deaf woman who worked in a mill in Hunslet in the 1840s and 1850s. This film brings her story to life.
Sarah was part of the Deaf community, with the Deaf Mission (church) at its centre. She married a Deaf man and had Deaf friends. One of her schoolmates, Jane Holmes, worked in the same mill.
Many hearing workers became deafened by the noisy conditions of textile mills. Sarah and Jane working together might have had an advantage. They would have been able to communicate fluently on the factory floor, having attended a school that used a ‘manual method’, or sign. A few decades later, the infamous Milan Congress declared that sign language should be banned. This led to the suppression of Deaf culture around the world.
Katie Redstar's BSL translation of the artist's statement