Till and Glendale Rotary Club

The question, when was the last bondage?, was prompted by a viewing of the film The Forgotten Workers at a meeting of Till and Glendale Rotary Club.

Members and guests were privileged to have the opportunity to see the film which has been nominated for a Northumberland National Park Award.

Dinah Iredale introduced it by explaining the bondager system of hired labour which was in operation in the North East during the 19th century.

She made the film, in partnership with Shadowcat Films, in response to the amount of interest shown by people about her research into the bondager system.

The film gives a dramatic portrayal of life on a Borders farm in 1866 and is based on original documents and eyewitness accounts.

Men, called hinds, who were hired to work on farms had to also supply a worker, usually a woman, known as a bondager.

The hind had to provide the bondager with accommodation and pay her in advance. The system caused resentment among the men and their families as the bondagers were often better off than they were, as the men were mostly paid in kind and the cottages were small, often only one room which was consequently being shared with someone who was a stranger.

The end of the bondager system was brought about by the introduction of mechanical aids such as scythes, which were too heavy for the women to use, and they were finding better-paid work elsewhere, such as in the woollen mills. For more on the bondager system, go to www.thebondagers.com

At the end of the meeting the regular prize draw was won by one of our guests from Tynemouth Rotary Club who generously donated his winnings back to the club.