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Source related study - Workhouses at Styal Mill?

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Introduction

1. Study Source A. What can you learn from Source A about why children from workhouses were employed at Styal Mill? Source A indicates that children appeared as the best and most suitable working force available for mill owners, such as Samuel Greg in the 1790's. According to Samuel Greg, child labour provided many significant advantages to the children, as well as Styal Mill itself. The source provides us with a list of factual reasons that help to explain why they favoured child labour. The attitude is explained using economic reason, as it was in Greg's own economic self-interest to employ children, as we can gather from reading Source A. Considering the majority of the children at Styal were healthy and in good shape, substantiates that they were physically fit and able to do the work. Source A also exhibits that the children were nimble-fingered, therefore, this would enable them to work a lot quicker and easier, thus benefiting the children and Styal. Samuel Greg's interpretations were that children were easy to train for the jobs required and they were able to carry out simple tasks without any predicament or difficulty. Above all, there were many children during this time, who were obtainable and available to work at Styal. As Source A mentions, there was a high availability of children from the Parish. Mill owners such as Samuel Greg, probably thought they were doing the children a favour, by taking over the responsibility previously held by the Parish, for keeping the children. Moreover, this would have been a huge advantage for Samuel Greg, considering there was an insufficiency of local labour during the time. Overall, Source A gives a good indication of why children from workhouses were employed at Styal. The advantages, which children had, contributed greatly to Styal Mill. 2. Study Sources B, C and D. To what extent does the evidence of Sources B and C, support the evidence of Source D, regarding conditions for apprentices at Styal? ...read more.

Middle

This Source definitely gives a positive view towards Styal. The Shawcrosses state that when children first appear at Styal, they do not look as healthy as they do when they have been there for some time. We instantly think that the children are well looked after and cared for, with a doctor being provided and education provided and the fact that deformities were rare, telling us that accidents rarely occurred. Although the evidence is given from a primary source, it cannot corroborate that conditions at the mill were this good, as George and Elizabeth relied on child labour for employment purposes. Additionally, we automatically expect their responses to be biased, making Source C an unreliable source. In contrast to Sources A, B and C, Source F portrays child labour in a much more harsh and severe manner. Source F is a secondary account describing the incident involving Lucy Garner and Esther Price, both being employed at Styal, and later escaping. However, the individual who dedicated the account to Lord Ashley in 1837 remained anonymous. But, the fact that it was dedicated to Lord Ashley, who was in favour of factory reform, helps us to understand why the writer was against child labour. The content throughout the source sheds light on why the writer was against child labour. Details given on Esther's punishment, substantiates that it was cruel and discipline was very harsh and taken extremely seriously. Source F provides us with evidence about Esther Price, and how she was left isolated in a room in the Apprentice House, which had been boarded up, preventing her from escaping and from communicating with others. It also implies that she was forced to sleep on the floor, and given milk, bread and porridge every morning and evening. Overall, Source F is exhibiting that the treatment of these two girls was appalling and unnecessary. In addition, people reading the article immediately see child labour as unacceptable and unfair on children, which is, most likely, the main aim of whoever wrote this. ...read more.

Conclusion

The drawing shows poor apprentices feeding at a pig's trough, obtained from 'The Life Of Robert Blincoe' in 1833. The source could be seen as useful as it could be showing us how bad conditions were for some apprentices, and how horrific some apprentices were treated during this time. Although it does not represent every apprentice, only 'poor apprentices' it could still be demonstrating to us how bad conditions were for some people during this time. From the drawing, it is clear that the children were not very well looked after and that the living conditions were appalling for them. Although the source could provide us with information on how apprentices were treated, on the other hand it does hold many disadvantages. A drawing such as this could easily be exaggerated to make people rebel against child labour. Certain groups of individuals, who were against child labour, may have deliberately produced this drawing to influence people's views on child labour. A drawing like this would have probably received a lot of attention and people would have probably changed their views and protested against child labour. Even if this drawing was correct and does provide us with accurate and reliable information, it likely only represents one mill out of many in the country at the time. Therefore, the conditions at one mill could not represent every mill in the country, as it's likely that the majority were of a much better condition than this one. Overall, this source is useful as it does provide us with some information on the horrific conditions which may have been present at some mills, however it is does not represent the overall conditions for apprentices at mills, so it could be seen as unreliable. In summary, it is clear that none of the sources are invaluable to us, as they all provide us with some facts or opinions, and help us to understand the different views on child labour and working conditions at mills during the time. However, like all sources, they all hold drawbacks as well, and none of them are completely consistent to us. ...read more.

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