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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, this was the industry that was most associated w

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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, this was the industry that was most associated with the Industrial Revolution. The movement of people away from the agriculture and into industrial cities brought great stresses to many people in the labour force. As the number of factories grew people from countryside also began to move into the towns looking for better paid work. Women in households who had earned income from spinning found the new factories taking away their source of income. The wages of a farm worker were very low and there were less jobs working on farms because of the invention and use of new machines such as threshers. Also thousands of new workers were needed to work machines and the factory owners paid the minimum amount necessary for a work force, often recruiting women and children to tend the machines because they could be hired for very low wages. Cities filled to overflowing and at the start of the 19th century about 1/5 of Britain's population were living in cities. ...read more.


Streets were paved and lighting was put up. Over time houses were knocked down and new were built. However, these changes did not take place overnight. When houses were knocked down in 1875 the poor people had little choice but to move to another one. Few could afford new housing. The nature of work changed as a result of division of labour. Many factory workers were children. They worked long hours and were often treated badly by the supervisors. 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. The coal mines were dangerous places where roofs sometimes caved in, 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 had to sit in a hole hollowed out for them and hold a string which was fastened to the door. When they hear the coal wagons coming they had to open the door by pulling the string. ...read more.


They could work as crossing-sweepers, sweeping away through the mud and horse droppings of the main paths to make way for ladies and gentlemen. Others sold lace, flowers, matches or muffins etc out in the streets. 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 scares, out in the fields from four in the morning until seven at night. Older ones worked in gangs as casual labourers. 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. By about the 1820s, income levels for most workers began to improve, and people adjusted to the different circumstances and conditions. By that time, Britain had changed. The economy was expanding at a rate that was more than twice the speed at which it had grown before the Industrial Revolution. Although vast differences existed between the rich and the poor, most of the population enjoyed some of the fruits of economic growth. The widespread poverty and constant threat of mass starvation that had troubled the pre-industrial age reduced in Industrial Britain ...read more.

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