Cardroom operations were traditionally segregated by sex. Strippers, who cleared the entangled cotton on the carding machines and grinders, who sharpened the teeth of the cards were reputed to be the historically oldest male factory workers in the industry, the successors to the operators of eighteenth-century carding machines.' From the 1850s they were often referred to as 'jobbers' and were little more than general labourers,4 and from the 1880s the two occupations were gradually merged.5 Their wages fell in the nineteenth century in relation to those of spinners, an indication of their declining status.* Female cardroom operatives did a variety of jobs as draw-frame tenters (or 'drawers'), slub-frame tenters (or 'slubbers1), for example. In the case of some jobs a long cycle of experience was required, even up to 12 years, to achieve competence.7