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© Boardworks Ltd 2007 1 of 26 © Boardworks Ltd 2007 Britain 1750–1900 1 of 26 Factory Conditions Icons key: For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started presentation Teacher’s notes included in the Notes Page Accompanying worksheet Flash activity. These activities are not editable. Web addresses Sound
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 2 of 26 Learning objectives © Boardworks Ltd 2007 2 of 26 How did Britain change from a cottage- industry nation to a factory-based nation? What was life like in the cottages? What was life like in the factories, especially for children?
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 3 of 26 Before the era of the factories, people tended to live in rural areas and work at home. Look at the next slide to see what life was like before the Industrial Revolution and the dominance of the factories. This might sound like a nice way of life now, but it wasn’t all that brilliant at the time. Before the factories
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 4 of 26 Before the factories
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 5 of 26 The Domestic System was fantastic – work when you like, in your own home – lovely! Nonsense, it was awful, the conditions could be just as harsh as the factories. The cottage wasn’t as bad as the factory – look at the following images and see if you agree. Before the factories
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 6 of 26 Before the factories Often, most of a worker’s small cottage was given over to his working equipment. What do you think the conditions were like in these cottages?
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 7 of 26 The Domestic System
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 8 of 26 The Domestic System was pretty hard, but it could be said that the Factory System was even harder. Many factory owners were far more interested in the profits they made, than the welfare of the workers they employed. The Factory System There were no rules about health and safety when factories were first built.
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 9 of 26 A typical industrial town
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 10 of 26 Try to imagine what it waslike to be one of the working poor during the 19 th century. Your home would probably have been overcrowded, damp, rat-infested and without any sanitation (no toilet, bath or running water). You also would have had a very poor diet, based mainly on bread, potatoes and beer. The life of factory workers
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 11 of 26 To get to work you would have had to walk possibly two or three miles, no matter what the weather. Your only set of working clothes would have smelt of sweat and your shoes would have been well-worn and probably letting in water. Feeling dirty, hungry and weary you would then have had to face 13 hours of hard work in the factory. The life of factory workers Imagine you had to go to school from six in the morning until seven in the evening. What would you do in your free time? What activities would you be forced to give up?
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 12 of 26 Imagine standing at the same machine for 13 hours a day. The life of factory workers
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 13 of 26 Today, people expect their place of work to be safe and reasonably comfortable, but 200 years ago there were no laws governing health and safety. A factory owner’s main concern was how much profit he made – he was free to do this as he wanted. Putting in safety equipment, reducing hours or paying higher wages cost money. This meant less profit for the manufacturer. Very few factory owners were prepared to reduce profits to improve the working conditions in their factories. Why were factory workers treated so badly?
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 14 of 26 Many new machines were invented for mass producing goods in the factories. These machines were often dangerous for the operators, but factory owners were usually more concerned that accidents delayed production, than that they injured workers. Accidents were commonplace and many people lost fingers, hands or limbs with no compensation. Dangerous machinery A factory inspector reporting what happened to a young girl in a textile factory in the 1840s. She was caught by her apron, which wrapped around the shaft. She was whirled round and repeatedly forced between the shaft and the carding engine. (Her right leg was found some distance away.)
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 15 of 26 Those injured in factory accidents had little chance of making a good recovery. Medical care was poor, and there was no free health service. Dangerous machinery
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 16 of 26 There were rarely any safety guards on drive bands or the moving parts of machinery. Dangerous machinery
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 17 of 26 Some factories were so noisy that the workers went deaf. Factories were rarely heated in winter or ventilated in summer. Steam or gases often made the air unbearable. There was no protection against dangerous chemicals or gases and the owner was not liable for any injuries. A dangerous environment Reference to ‘bleach powder packers’ in a Home Office report of 1893. “The packer has to enter a chamber which has been filled with chlorine gas. Though the worst of it has been allowed to escape, the atmosphere is still charged with deadly fumes. The heat is tremendous. Gassing is such a common matter that the men would describe it as they would tell you what their Sunday dinner was like.”
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 18 of 26 “In what part of the mill did you work?” “In the card-room. It was very dusty. The dust got upon my lungs. I got so bad in health.” “…we had but half got our dinners, and he put the clock forward to one, and he rang the bell, and we were obliged to run back to our work.” “Is there not considerable dust in that employment?” “Yes.” “Does it not injure your food very much?” “Yes, you cannot take the food out of your basket but that it is covered with dust directly.” A dangerous environment Evidence given by Elizabeth Bentley, aged 23, to a Parliamentary Committee in 1831. Joseph Hebergam, aged 17, 1831.
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 19 of 26 Today we, quite reasonably, expect to be treated fairly at work. In 19 th century factories, workers had few rights. Workers could not be treated like this today. Why did they accept it then? Children as young as six were employed in many factories because they could be paid very little and were small enough to crawl under the machines. Harsh treatment It was common practice to beat workers to keep them awake. All workers were fined for being late or slowing down in their work. Workers could be sacked immediately with no explanation.
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 20 of 26 Harsh treatment
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 21 of 26 Elizabeth Bentley continued: Harsh treatment When I pulled the baskets all heaped up, the basket pulled my shoulder out of its place and my ribs have grown overit. I am now deformed.’
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 22 of 26 Harsh treatment
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 23 of 26 Not all reports tell the same story, as this account shows: How reliable do you think this source is? Why do you think this source is so different from the others? Were all factories the same? Dr Andrew Ure, ‘The Philosophy of Manufacturers’, 1835. I have visited many factories. The children seemed to be always cheerful and alert. The work of these lively elves seemed to resemble a sport. Conscious of their skill, they were delighted to show it off to any stranger. As to exhaustion, they showed no sign of it. After work, they skipped around with the same energy as boys coming out of school.
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 24 of 26 In 1832, the Sadler Committee interviewed workers who had worked in factories since an early age to find out about children’s working conditions. Imagine you are one of the interviewers for this committee. Write a report on a textile factory. Remember to include information about the ages of the children, the hours they worked, punishments for slacking or talking, dangerous machinery and whether the workers had been injured or deformed. At the end of your report, write down the recommendations you would make to improve the life of the workers. Factory conditions
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 25 of 26 Working conditions remained poor throughout the 19 th century. Gradual improvements were made through various Factory Acts, which were passed following pressure by individuals such as Richard Oastler. Oastler campaigned tirelessly for reform after being deeply shocked at the treatment of children in a Bradford woollen mill he visited. Parliamentary committees were set up in the early 1830s and Royal Commissions interviewed thousands of workers and factory owners to find out what conditions were like. However, employers were often opposed to reform and dodged new laws. They still got away with beating children, making them work long hours and ignoring safety issues. Conclusion: did working conditions improve?
© Boardworks Ltd 2007 26 of 26 Factory conditions quiz
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