Working in the clothiers workshop, the scribbler oiled the wool to make it easier to work with. Olive oil, known as Gallipoli oil, from the Mediterranean was imported through Bristol.
From 1675, the scribbler used hand cards to pull the wool over a scribbling horse, a frame covered with iron teeth set in leather leaves. Scribblers were often older or disabled workers. The fibres could then be hand carded.
From the 1790s, scribbling engines took over this work. These machine s were originally horse powered but were later worked by water power and then steam. In the factory, because of the noise it made, the opening machine was locally know as a bumbler. If the wool was not ‘well opened’ after it had been blown out, it was put back into the machine for further opening.
The scribbler is the name of the first part of a carding set, a modern carding machine.