Female Factories in NSW and Van Diemens Land

The factories were called factories because each was a site of production. The women produced spun wool and flax in all the factories. There were 13 female factories - Parramatta (2), Bathurst, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Moreton Bay (2), Hobart Town, Georgetown, Cascades, Launceston and Ross. The experience in the factories varied according to when the women were in the factory and which factory they were in.


 In the larger factories, Cascades and the second Parramatta factory, the women were involved in a wider a range of work: spinning, straw plaiting, factory duties (housekeeping and working in the hospital), sewing, laundry and weaving in the 1830s and 1840s. The third class also broke rocks and picked oakum.


The first factory was a room above the goal at Parramatta. Samuel Marsden describes this:

The number of women employed in the factory under Mr Oakes the superintendent is one hundred and fifty,-they have seventy children. There is not any room in the factory that can be called a bed-room for these women and children. There are only 2 rooms and they are both occupied as workshops, over the goal, almost 80 feet long and 20 wide. In these rooms there are forty six women daily employed, 24 spinning wheels on the common wheel and twenty two carding. There are also in them the warping machine etc. belonging to the factory.


In its later years this factory had up to 200 women but could only house about 30 at night. If the women did not have bedding with them they did not get a bed and found either a place amongst the factory fleece or somewhere in Parramatta that would take them. The second factory was built for 250 women and by 1842 there were 1,200 women and over 200 children.