Child Labor in England
By Sydni Pierce
Children in the 19th century were employed in textile mills to perform dangerous jobs. Children were hired because they were cheaper to employ than adults. Some of the jobs they performed were:
- Coal mining
- Chimney sweeps
- Textile Mills
- Ship yard
- Factory workers
This young chimney sweep is posing for a picture. He obviously has bad working conditions; his clothes are torn and his face is dirty.
The working conditions for a child coal miner were:
- darkness caused constant eye strain
- thick coal dust
- explosions or cave-ins
- infestation of rats
- spine deformation from walking stooped over
- being underfed to fit into the chimneys
- some children were kidnapped to work in the jobs
- smoke or soot inhalation
- getting stuck or falling in the chimney
- dirtiest jobs were given to children
- cleaning under machines, sometimes while they were running
- work week was Monday through Saturday, from 6 AM to 8 PM
- children could be beaten or fined for doing their job wrong, coming to work late, or falling asleep
- injuries and death were common
- rice cakes
- boiled milk and water
- potato pie with boiled bacon
- children got cheese and brown bread once a year
Three children working at a spinning machine in a textile mill in Cherryville, NC. As you can see, the environment is dirty, and one of the boys has no shoes on.
Getting injured or killed was common for children working in the Industrial Revolution.
Child chimney sweeps had the possibility of these injuries:
- skin could be scraped
- respiratory problems were created from inhaling soot
- fingers could be stripped of skin or taken off from running machines
- beatings from shift managers
This young boy who worked in a textile mill has been fired for getting his hand injured.
Punishments Children Faced
- overlookers would beat children if they fell behind at work
- in textile mills, if a child was late to work, they would be strapped
- some children were beat until they went insane
- being "lazy" would cause children to be beat
- if they were late, they would have heavy weights tied to their necks, and were forced to walk up and down the factory isles
- other children were fined for doing something wrong
In this picture, young girls work in a textile mill. The manager is yelling at them, and they girls don't look happy. This shows how children were treated by their managers.
Efforts to Improve/Stop Child Labor
- Although Britain's Factory Act was put into place, it was rejected by factory owners and families that needed money.
- It stated that there could be no child workers under the age of nine.
- It also said that children should have two hours of education a day.
- Other organizations like the Consumers' League helped stop child labor.
This poster by Lewis Hine uses photography to bring awareness to child labor.