Categories Forces For Change
Theme(s) Farming and agriculture
Collection Food Processing Objects
Object number 59/420
  • Description

When you look at a flail, you are looking at the sweat, pain and labour farmworkers endured for hundreds of years. Flails are just two sticks, tied together at one end with leather. One stick would be grasped, and the other swung at corn on a barn floor to separate the grain from the husk through sheer force.
This was hard labour, but occupied many people. When the process was simplified with threshing machines it caused riots, as many people were suddenly without a job. Rioters smashed machines to preserve their livelihoods, but ultimately it was the machines that won.