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Child Labour & The Industrial Revolution

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Child Labour & The Industrial Revolution During the 1800s the Industrial Revolution spread throughout Britain. The use of steam-powered machines, led to a massive increase in the number of factories (particularly in textile factories or mills). From Country to Town As the number of factories grew people from the countryside began to move into the towns looking for better paid work. The wages of a farm worker were very low and there were less jobs working on farms because of new machines. Thousands of new workers were needed to work machines in mills and foundries and the factory owners built houses for them. At the start of the 19th Century about 1/5 of Britain's population lived there, but by 1851 half the population of the country had set up home in London. People crowded into already crowded houses. Rooms were rented to whole families or perhaps several families. If there were no rooms to rent, people stayed in lodging houses. Housing The worker's houses were usually near to the factories so that people could walk to work. ...read more.


Sometimes the children started work as young as four or five years old. A young child could not earn much, but even a few pence would be enough to buy food. Coal Mines The coal mines were dangerous places explosions happened and workers got all sorts of injuries. There were very few safety rules. Cutting and moving coal which machines do nowadays was done by men, women and children. The younger children often worked as "trappers" who worked trap doors. They sat in a hole hollowed out for them and held a string which was fastened to the door. When they heard the coal wagons coming they had to open the door by pulling a string. This job was one of the easiest down the mine but it was very lonely and the place were they sat was usually damp and draughty. Older children might be employed as "coal bearers" carrying loads of coal on their backs in big baskets. The Mines Act was passed by the Government in 1842 forbidding the employment of women and girls and all boys under the age of teen down mines. ...read more.


Street Children Loads of children roamed the streets with no regular money and no home to get to. The children of the streets were often orphans. They stole or picked pockets to buy food and slept in outhouses or doorways. Some street children did jobs to earn money. They could work as crossing-sweepers, sweeping a way through the mud; others sold lace, flowers, matches or muffins in the streets. Country Children Poor families who lived in the countryside were also forced to send their children out to work. Seven and eight year olds could work as bird scarers, out in the fields from four in the morning until seven at night. Changes for the better It took time for the government to decide that working children ought to be protected by laws as many people did not see anything wrong with the idea of children earning their keep. They also believed that people should be left alone to help themselves and not expect others to protect or keep them. They felt children had a right to send their children out to work. ...read more.

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