Presentation on theme: "Sheffield Archives and Local Studies: History Key Stage 2 Unit 11A (What was it like for children living in Victorian Britain?) Working Conditions of Children."— Presentation transcript:
Sheffield Archives and Local Studies: History Key Stage 2 Unit 11A (What was it like for children living in Victorian Britain?) Working Conditions of Children in Victorian Sheffield
This teaching pack looks at the working conditions of children in Victorian Sheffield. Using original documents from 1862 we can read the exact words and phrases that the children used - so we can really hear ‘Victorian voices’.
Working children Children often worked long hours, near dangerous machinery, in buildings that could be very hot in summer and very cold in winter. There were no proper toilet or washing facilities. Some children never went to school because they had to work.
In 1862 a Royal Commission (inquiry) was set up to look into: Which industries employed the most children? How many hours did children have to work? How much were they paid? How old were the children at work? Did working children attend any kind of school? The 1862 Commission report includes transcripts of the interviews with children using their own words and phrases.
Annie Bull, aged 11 - working with animal hair Messrs S Laycock & Sons, hair seating factory, Portobello (near St George’s Church). 300 people worked there; about a third of them under the age of 18, and a third of these under 13. The hair was first steamed. It was then spun into a rope and twisted by hand. ‘The factory owners strongly deprecate [dislike] any legislative interference, which would cause serious inconvenience and injury to their business [cost them money]. They consider that relays of children could not be employed, as the remuneration [wages] would not admit of paying two girls in place of one.’ ‘The girls sit, leaning over their work weaving and complain of aches, etc. The workshops are light and cheerful, but some smell close [stale], the windows being all shut.’
“Sometimes the woman lets me weave a little bit at dinner time before we begin again. Sometimes it is 8 or 8½ a.m. when my weaver comes, but I come afore her and get things ready. Had to come the first eight weeks for nothing as a learner, and then got 6s. a piece, but shall get to my 8s. this piece. Wear this little handkerchief round my neck because it is so cold in the morning. Have to keep going out and warming us hands when it's so very cold.” I wear this little handkerchief round my neck because it is so cold in the morning We worked from 7½ to 6, with a dinner hour. Go to school on Sunday and used to go on weekdays “Can say the letters, but not spell many. Go to school on Sunday and used to go on weekdays. Don't know if there is any bigger river anywhere. The sea is bigger. Think the sea is not many miles across that ways (pointing), but many a mile long. There is only one sea, and I cannot tell the names of any.” “It is a good many years since I was at any work before I came here. T'master made horn buttons and we had to clip the edges. There were five or six girls, all about my age: think I was going on 9. We worked from 7½ to 6, with a dinner hour. Got 2s. a week, and master gi'en me 2d. for mysen.”
John Cawthorpe, aged 14 - Steelworks Thomas Turton & Sons, Sheaf Works Backer at a roller, taking out hot steel. Am used to this job now, i.e. hot steel, as I have been at it five years. Often get burned with it (shows scars on hands.) Went to the Infirmary for it and was laid up two months. “Work one week on days and the other on nights. Sometimes start at 6 on Friday morning and do not give over till 2 p.m. on Saturday. That is the only time that I work night and day together. “ “Get some sleep in the dinner hour, and sometimes in the breakfast half hour. When tired I fall asleep in working time, not when standing up, but many a time when I am sitting down. When it (the hot steel) comes through it wakens me.” “It is very heavy work, and when they first come through the rollers I can hardly lift them, but when they get longer it is easier. The men are very kind to me. The lads do not get hurt in the machinery.” “Can read a little bit, but not write or read writing.” When tired I fall asleep in working time taking out hot steel … often get burned with it
Martin Hefrin aged 11 - wire making Messrs Cocker Bros, Wire Manufacturers, Nursery Street In another room, where four or five young boys work, the side of a wire-drawing table, which ought to cover up the machinery, has come away and not been replaced. The boys have nothing to do with it; but as the machinery consists of many cog-wheels, and dangerous machinery is often found tempting to boys, it would be better safely covered up again. Wind wire at a machine. Work from 7 a.m. till 7 p.m.. Make a quarter of a day over sometimes, but never more. dangerous machinery is often found tempting to boys Many a time we used to work till twelve at night We were forced to, whether we liked or no; we could not help it
Went at 9 years old to hardening and tempering crinoline steel at Tower wheel. In winter the proper hours were from 7 a.m. till 7 p.m., but we had to work over a good deal, and I didn't like it at all. For many and many a month we worked till 9½ at night every day but Monday. Many a time we used to work till twelve at night. He let us have an hour and a half or two hours to sleep in the dinner time at night. There was only me and another man to keep the fires up, and we had done work by 12, say, and then had to get up at 2 a.m., and get the fires, &c. ready for the next morning. We never worked in the meal times. The man was very kind to us. I had to live very badly, and if I had no dinner he always gave me a bit. Left that place for more wages, and went to a crinoline factory in Pond Hill, where I winded strip. There we worked from 6 a.m. till 6 p.m., and at another time from 12 till 12 the next day or night, changing turns each week. There we worked in us breakfast half hour and in us dinner hour. We were forced to, whether we liked or no; we could not help it.
Recap… Why did children go out to work? How many hours a day did some of them work? What effect did long hours have? Why were some people worried about children working? What changed after the inquiry in 1862?
Sheffield Archives and Local Studies If you would prefer to use this presentation as the basis for a class visit to Archives and Local Studies or in a visit by us to your class please contact us. Students will have the opportunity to see and touch the original items. We offer: Access to original primary source material from Tudor times through to the 21st century. Class visits to the Central Library and to Sheffield Archives. Visits to schools to deliver classroom sessions. Introductory sessions for teaching staff. Online PowerPoint lesson resources.