Child Labour via Victorian Era
Child labor was very common and normal for most children during Victorian times in the early 19th century. Not even twenty percent of children had received any type of education in London in 1840. This was during the same time as the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution didn’t create child labor but it definitely powered it. Children from poor families had to work to help support their families way before the revolution. Before the revolution not as many children worked because of the lack of jobs. The Industrial Revolution brought many new jobs to the country in factories and coalmines. This new abundance of jobs resulted in an increase of child labor.
During the Industrial Revolution, steam powered the nation. Steam was used to power trains, steamships, and machines. They needed an abundant supply of coal to make the steam. This caused a dramatic increase of child labor in the coalmines. Most children who worked in the mines were around ten years old and worked 12 to 18 hours a day. Children made very productive workers in the mines because of their small size and they accepted very little pay. Another popular job during the Victoria Era for children were chimney sweeps. Children had to be very small to fit down the chimneys. Some started as young as the age of three years old. To keep the children small, bosses underfed children so they could continue to go down the narrow chimneys. Chimney sweep’s arms, elbows, legs, and knees would usually be rubbed and scraped raw. A lot of times their knees and elbows looked like they had no skin on them at all. Their employers would wash their wounds with saltwater and send them on to the next chimney. Other occupations during the Victorian era were to work in the gas works, textile factories, shipyards, construction, match, and nail factories.
There were two very important legislative acts that slowed child labor. One was the Factory Act of 1833 that prohibited the hiring of children under nine years old. It also limited the number of hours that kids who were between the ages of nine and thirteen could work. The other act was the Mines Act of 1842. This act set the minimal age of a coal worker up to at lest ten years old. These two acts brought slow but steady change to end the employment of small children.
Cody, David. "Child Labor." The Victorian Web. George P. Landow, 10 Dec. 2008. <http://www.victorianweb.org/history/hist8.html>. 27 Feb. 2015.
Griffin, Emma. "Child Labor." The British Library. The British Library Board, n.d. http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/child-labour Web. 28 Feb. 2015.
Price, Paxton. "Victorian Child Labor and the Conditions They Worked In." Victorian Children. Victorianchildren.org, 2 Mar. 2013. <http://www.victorianchildren.org/victorian-child-labor/>. . 4 Mar. 2015.