The sewing machines and cutting machines were all steam driven.
By 1890 Tillie & Henderson employed 1,500 hands in their factory,
and provided work for 3,000 outworkers in counties, Derry, Donegal
and Tyrone. They had wholesale warehouses in London & Glasgow
and they exported overseas to Australia, South Africa, North &
South America and the West Indies.
Other factories followed. Peter Mc Intyre, from Paisley, and Adam
Hogg, from Melrose, opened the City Factory in Queen Street in 1864.
In 1876, the London firm of Welch Margetson moved into new premises
in Carlisle Road and they were soon employing 1,000 together with
So great was the demand for Derry made shirts from Glasgow &
London that the number of shirt factories in the city increased
from 5 in the 1850's to 44 by 1926.
Working conditions however were severe and wages much lower than
for the equivalent work in other cities. One factory owner, giving
evidence in 1875 to a commission set up to investigate the shirt
industry, under the Factories and Workshops Act stated:
'The hours of labour which have prevailed in the trade during
the past 25 years, have been 61 hours a week, 8 to 8 with an hour
for dinner(11 hours Monday to Friday and 6 hours on a Saturday).....regarding
the working hours on Saturday, we have never felt any inconvenience
or seen any bad results to the hands from working 6 hours at a
stretch and the hands themselves unanimously prefer the present
hours to any other which would require them to come in without
By 1870, the population of the city was 26,000, with some 10,000
people employed in the shirt making industry in the Derry area.
By 1897, this figure had risen to 13,000 and in the 1920's when
the industry had reached its peak, a total of 18,000 were thus employed.
Ninety per cent of these workers were women. Confidence in the shirt
industry was reflected in the massive red brick factories that were
built. When David Hogg & Charles Mitchell opened their five
story factory in Great James Street in 1898, a specially chartered
steamer was hired to bring over guests from England.