Model Factory

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Who said "Everyones strange but me and thee, and even tha's a bit odd"?

According to "The Houghton Mifflin Dictionary of Biography," Welsh social and educational reformer Robert Owen (1771-1858) is reported to have uttered the following words to his partner W. Allen on the dissolution of their business partnership:

"All the world old is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer." (1)

Robert Owen was born in Newtown, Montgomeryshire (Wales) on May 14, 1771, the sixth of seven children. His father was a saddler and ironmonger who also served as local postmaster; his mother came from one of the prosperous farming families of Newtown. (2)

A "doer" more than a "talker," utopian socialist Robert Owen founded the famous New Lanark Mills in Scotland as an example of the viability of co-operative factory communities. Many industrialists actually visited these "model factories" and some even adopted parts of Owen's system. Owen attempted to extend these into agriculture - advocating collective farming, as in New Harmony, Indiana. Although most of these efforts failed, he continued on his social work - becoming the head of one of the largest trade union federations in Britain in 1843. (3)

A bare chronicle of dates and brief biographical details do not do justice to this remarkable man. His epitaph on the Owen Memorial in Kensal Green Cemetery London reads:

"He organised infants schools. He secured the reduction of the hours of labour for women and children in factories. He was a liberal supporter of the earliest efforts to obtain national education. He laboured to promote international arbitration. He was one of the foremost Britons who taught men to aspire to a higher social state by reconciling the interests of capital and labour. He spent his life and a large fortune in seeking to improve his fellowmen by giving them education, self-reliance, and moral worth. His life was sanctified by human affection and lofty effort." (4)

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