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Whitby Jet Industry & Workers

At the peak of the industry (around 1873), Whitby jet workers earned more than any other Yorkshire industry at that time. Many Whitby folks who joined the jet trade were cabinet makers, joiners, bakers; men who were good with their hands and who already had a trade. They took advantage of the better wages that the jet industry had to offer at the height of its success. 

Many Whitby jet workers were self taught, while others were indentured into the trade. For the latter, a contract of five years was the usual term of agreement, although terms of three and four and as many as seven years have been recorded. The apprentice would be involved in a multitude of often unskilled work throughout the day before receiving one hour of expert tuition in the evenings. He would also be encouraged to take evening classes in design and drawing.

The starting wage for an apprentice in 1873 was 10 shillings per week, which then increased in yearly increments to 12, 14, 16 and 18 shillings. Once fully trained their pay would increase to between 30 shillings and £3, with the very best Whitby jet carvers capable of earning £4 to £6 per week, which was a fantastic wage at that time.