Industrial Children

19th Century Britain Heather Hinson

A Tedious Task

Watching out for the warden, this young girl hurriedly finishes up her work with fear of being punished if her deadline is not met. She could easily be beaten if she fails to complete her work or doesn't work fast enough.
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1- Jobs Children Did in Factories:

A. Scavengers: Many children were scavengers which meant they must go underneath the machines while they are running and fix them. This was a great risk to their lives because they could have easily been hurt if something went wrong.

B. Some children were forced to go around the factory and pick up cotton that has fallen on the floor. Many children would have trouble breathing due to the dust from the machines getting into their lungs.

C. Children were often employed on farms to tend to crops. If a child refused to work or wasn't working fast enough according to the overseer, they could easily be beaten. The overseers were very brutal.

D. Another job that was given to the children was being a chimney-sweeper. Chimney-sweepers were to climb inside the chimneys of businesses and mansions of the rich and clean them out. Many children suffered breathing problems due to the coal dust.

Hard at Work

While replacing the bobbins on all of the machines in the factory, these boys are very careful not to get caught in the machinery. This could result in serious injury or possibly death if they are not able to get out in time.
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2- Hours, Food, and Working Conditions:

A. There were no laws to protect them, therefore children worked long and hard hours with little food served throughout the day. By dinner, the children and workers were starving. Most children would work up to 16 hour days, seven days a week.

B. The coal mines were dark causing the workers to have to strain their eyes to see which caused permanent damage to their eyesight. Rats and coal dust were also a major problem when working in the coal mines.

C. Death was always a factor that was always in the way of the workers. As careful as they tried to be, many people still died working in the factories and coalmines due to the harsh conditions.

D. The meals served at the factories are not meals that anyone would desire to eat but because they were so hungry, the workers were grateful that they had a little something to put in their stomachs. Most of the time it was a small, hard piece of bread with an oatcake. These meals were disgusting but the people ate them due to starvation.

Just an Innocent Child

When this young boy was ordered to reach inside of a running machine to repair the obstruction, his hand was caught and his skin was painfully removed from his fingers to his wrist. He severed a few fingers in the process.
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3- Accidents that often Happened:

A. There were many cases that children would suffer severed limbs in the process of fixing a machine. If this happened and it caused the child to be unable to work, they would then lose their job and the owner wouldn't think twice about it.

B. Many deaths occured in the mines if a rope was frayed or if the mine was to collapse. Mines were also a problem when they had gas explosions. Those were usually fatal.

C. In 1911, over 150 people were killed in a factory fire. After this, many of the remaining workers went on strike because during the fire, the workers were blocked in. The overseers blocked the exits because supposedly "the workers stole materials".

D. Coming in late for work was not tolerated at all. If you came in late, you would be punished by having a whole half of a penny taken away from your already low wages. That's not a lot now but back then, they needed everything they could get.

Overseers on the Outlook

The children are being scolded by the Overseer who has threatened them with the terrifying consequences of what will happen if they do not pick up the pace. No one would ever intervene with the Overseer because of fears of being beaten.
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4- Punishments Children Faced:

A. If you were a child working in the factory and were caught snoozing or dozing off on the job, you were more than likely held by your ankles and dunked into a bucket of water to wake you up. Many children were so scared of being beaten that they would not dare fall asleep while working.

B. Anyone caught horseplaying when you were supposed to be working, would most likely be beaten with a leather horse whip that the overseer carried around at all times. If you had any intelligence at all, you would not be seen acting foolish at work.

C. Coming into work late would result in a major cut of your pay. Back then, this was a huge deal because people needed every little bit of money that they could get. If you were a child going into work late, not only would you be in trouble at work but you would also be in trouble at home for disappointing your parents who really need the money.

D. Many punishments in the factories and coal mines would result in a beating. Your parents would not dare go to the factory to complain because the factory knew there were other people who would gladly take your job because of the demand for money.

What are YOU doing?

When people started to realize how awful the conditions were in the factory and what challenges these poor, innocent children were being faced with, they began to take a stand with many different acts and protests.
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5- Efforts to Improve/Stop Child Labor:

A. In 1833 the Factory Act was established which banned children under nine years old from working in the factory and limited any child from the ages 9-13 to no more than 48 hours a week.

B. In 1836 the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages Act was made. This enabled factory inspectors to check the ages of children working in factories. This only applied to factories in England and Wales but it was a start.

C. In 1842 the Mines Act was put into place. This act banned the employment underground of boys under the age of ten and all women and girls. No one under the age of fifteen was allowed to be in charge of machinery.

D. In 1844 the Factory Act was passed. This classed women as young persons under the age of eighteen and limited the hours of both groups to twelve on weekdays and nine on Saturdays. After this, other acts were passed but some of the most important ones had already been put into play.