'Line Swinglers', 1814.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Hand-coloured aquatint by Robert Havell after George Walker from 'The Costume of Yorkshire' by George Walker, published 1814 by Robinson & Son of Leeds. The image shows a man breaking a line of flax using a 'swape' (an instrument used to give a strong blow to the flax, used in a sweeping motion) while another 'swingles' it (cleans by beating with a wooden instrument (a swingle) in order to separate the coarse parts and the woody substance from the flax). A scythe hangs from one of the rafters. 'The Costume of Yorkshire' recorded the social customs, pastimes and occupations of the people of Yorkshire at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It contained 40 aquatints together with more than 100 pages of text describing the scenes in both English and French. Its author, George Walker (1781-1856), was commisioned to produce the book by a local bookseller.