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A Sweep of the Peak School History Resource: Key Stage 2 Unit 11A What was it like for children living in Victorian Britain?

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Presentation on theme: "A Sweep of the Peak School History Resource: Key Stage 2 Unit 11A What was it like for children living in Victorian Britain?"— Presentation transcript:

1 A Sweep of the Peak School History Resource: Key Stage 2 Unit 11A What was it like for children living in Victorian Britain?

2 Beneath the gaze of the great gothic tower of St John the Baptist Church in Tideswell there lies buried a story…. A story of a life…a life cut tragically short…

3 On the morning of the 12 th October 1840, three young chimney sweeps set out from the Derbyshire village of Tideswell on a journey across the High Peak in search of work. It was a journey that would change their lives forever. And for one little boy it was the last journey he would ever take…

4 The journey led to the death of a 9 year-old chimney sweep….

5 …A flight from justice and a dramatic escape…

6 ….A 12-year old boy escaping from a man who killed his friend… Only to face the killer again in court to give vital evidence against him…

7 …And exile to the other side of the world of a young man for a dreadful crime….

8 Your task is to help the Victorian poet and newspaper editor James Montgomery (1771 - 1854), known as the ‘Champion of the Chimney Sweeps’, to discover what happened to the chimney sweep boys from Tideswell in 1840.

9 You will use detective skills to investigate real historical evidence…

10 And you will examine the similarities between this true-life tale about the chimney sweeps from Tideswell and Charles Kingsley’s classic Victorian fairytale, ‘The Waterbabies’.

11 James Montgomery (1771 - 1854), was a Sheffield newspaper editor and poet who campaigned to help people in need back in the 1800s. One of the causes he supported was to try to end the use of children sweeping chimneys – a very dirty and dangerous job! Because of the support he gave to child chimney sweeps and efforts to stop the dangers they faced, James Montgomery got the nickname the ‘Champion of the Chimney Sweeps’. James Montgomery (1771 - 1854)

12 Back in Victorian times, houses were heated through coal and log fires which needed chimneys to carry away the smoke. Chimneys would get very dirty and needed cleaning. Chimney sweeps had the job of cleaning them – sweeping away the ash and soot left behind by the fires. Before 1870, children did not have to go to school and many children (especially poor children) were sent out to work instead. When learning a trade or job, children were known as ‘apprentices’. Children as young as 6 could become chimney sweep ‘apprentices’ and were sent to work for chimney sweep ‘masters’. Child chimney sweep apprentices were sometimes known as ‘climbing boys’. Why do you think this was? What do you think the advantages might have been for chimney sweep masters employing children?

13 What dangers do you think child chimney sweeps might have faced? James Montgomery wrote poems about child chimney sweeps (or climbing boys) and the dangers of their job. In James Montgomery’s poem ‘The Dream’ (opposite) how does he describe the chimney? Fair pictures in their golden frames, And looking-glasses bright; Fine things, I cannot tell their names, Dazed and bewitched me quite. Master soon thwacked them out my head – The chimney must be swept! Yet in the grate the coals were red; I stamped, and screamed, and wept. With his two iron hands he grasped And hoisted me aloof; His naked neck in vain I clasped. The man was pity-proof. So forth he swung me through the space, Above the smouldering fire; I never can forget his face, Nor his gruff growl, ‘Go higher!’ As if I climbed a steep house side, Or scaled a dark draw-well, The horrid opening was so wide, I had no hold, - I fell; Fell on the embers, all my length But scarcely felt their heat, When, with a madman’s rage and strength, I started to my feet.

14 Dangers for chimney sweeps Child chimney sweeps had to crawl through narrow gaps (sometimes only 40cm wide). Cruel masters sometimes lit the fires to force the child to climb up the chimney faster and get it cleaned quicker. Some children fell to their deaths, others got stuck in the chimneys and suffocated. Many chimney sweeps also died young due to diseases caused by breathing in so much dirt and soot.

15 In 1840, James Montgomery heard about a shocking true life story of three young chimney sweeps from the Derbyshire village of Tideswell in the Peak District. Your task is to help James Montgomery investigate what happened to them. Let’s open James Montgomery’s secret chest of documents and examine the evidence…

16 Can you find Tideswell on James’ old map of the Derbyshire Peak District? (clue: it might not be spelt quite the same as it is today!)

17 What was Tideswell like in the 1800s? Back in the 1840s, Tideswell was a small market village. Situated in the heart of the Peak District, surrounded by countryside, many people lived off the land, working in farming. The local wool and cotton trades also employed a lot of people in and around Tideswell. There were several cotton/spinning works in the area for making clothes (some buildings still survive today, e.g. Litton Mill and Cressbrook Mill). The area was also a centre for lead mining (waste heaps from old Victorian lead mines can still be seen in the local landscape). Modern day view of Cressbrook Mill Historic images of Tideswell

18 What jobs did people do in Tideswell back in Victorian times? AddressNameAgeJob Church StreetJohn Dawson55 Church StreetMary Dawson20 Church StreetJonathan Knowles25 Church StreetAmarius Sutton50 Church StreetAbraham Gregory54 Church StreetIsaac Gregory44 TownheadElizabeth Hill15Works in a TownheadSamuel Slater20 TownheadAnthony Gregory65 TownheadThomas Flint72 TownheadSarah Chapman25 1841 Census showing some of the people living in Tideswell

19 The Union Workhouse Bakewell Union Workhouse, [c. 1900] Present day view of Newholme Hospital, Bakewell (formerly Bakewell Union Workhouse) Back in Victorian times (before electricity, proper roads and transport) rural areas such as the Peak District were very bleak and isolated - it was very hard to make a living there and poverty was a big problem. Poor people, who were unable to find work and support and feed themselves, had to go in the dreaded ‘Union Workhouse’ (each area had one). Conditions in Union Workhouses were very harsh to make sure only the poorest and most in need asked to enter them. Families could be split up and housed in different parts of the workhouse. Inmates of all ages were forced to do hard manual labour (such as breaking up stones) and workhouses could hire children out to do dangerous jobs such as working in factories and mines, etc. The nearest Union Workhouse to the Tideswell area was Bakewell Union Workhouse, which was built in 1841 (and could house up to 200 ‘inmates’. The building still stands (it is now Newholme Hospital).

20 Look at the following list showing some of the people living in the Bakewell Union Workhouse in 1851? What is the name of the person in charge of the workhouse? The list includes names of orphan or abandoned children who have ended up in the workhouse as they have no-one to look after them. What ages are they and where are they from? List of some of the ‘inmates’ in the Bakewell Union Workhouse (from 1851 Census)

21 Litton Mill, Millers Dale, near Tideswell Litton Mill Many people in the Tideswell area back in the 1800s found work at the nearby Litton Mill in Millers Dale. Litton Mill opened for cotton spinning in 1782. In the 1800s, it was known for the cruel treatment of its workers (many of whom were children). Many poor children were sent to Litton Mill from workhouses as far away as London to work long hours with little food and in harsh conditions. Many children died working at the mill.

22 Tideswell Church burial register entries showing burials of pauper child apprentices at Litton Mill, 1816 - 1817 The Tideswell Church burial register contains many entries for apprentice children who died at Litton Mill. Look at the children listed opposite – the fourth column shows their ages. How old were they when they died? If you look carefully in Tideswell Churchyard, there is a spot marked where ‘orphan children’ who died in Litton Mill are said to have been buried.

23 One boy who worked as an apprentice in Litton Mill was Robert Blincoe. Robert was an orphan who was sent from a workhouse in London to work at a cotton mill near Nottingham (aged 7). He had previously worked as a chimney sweep apprentice (aged 6). In 1802 (aged 10) Robert came to work at Litton Mill. He survived growing up in Litton Mill (despite narrowly avoiding death one day when his head was stuck in machinery and cut open, whilst cleaning out cotton which had fallen underneath). Robert’s memories of life as an apprentice at Litton Mill were later published in 1832. What difficulties did he face there? Robert Blincoe (c.1792 – 1860) “Our bodies were never free from…from wounds inflicted by the cruel master…or by his sons, or his brutal and ferocious and merciless overlookers [who supervised our work]”. “Our hands were full of wounds, and, in many cases…infested with vermin”. “We apprentices slept about fifty in a room”. “Breakfast was generally of water porridge…and oaten cake… Sometimes…we had to work the whole day through, generally sixteen hours, without rest or food! Often we worked from five in the morning till midnight”. “On Sunday, bacon broth and turnips were served…in dirty wooden bowls…the stench of this broth was often so powerful as to turn our stomachs…. keen hunger forced us to eat it”

24 Many children who were forced to work from a young age died back in the 1800s and are buried in Tideswell Churchyard. Your task is to investigate what happened to one child in particular who was buried there. And he didn’t work at Litton Mill… Have a look at the Tideswell burial register entry opposite and find the entry for George Hadfield. How old does the register say George was when he was buried?

25 Now look at George’s death certificate below which gives more information about his death. The burial register we saw previously did not get George’s age quite right when he died. How old was he exactly? When and where did he die? What does it say his occupation (or job was?). What does it say the cause of his death was?

26 The Chimney Sweeps of Tideswell William Booker (c. 1802 - 1881) was a master chimney sweep who lived in Tideswell. In 1840, Mr Booker had three younger chimney sweeps working for him: George Hadfield (aged 9). William Steward (aged 12). And Luke Clarkson (aged 19). George Hadfield and William Steward were both chimney sweep apprentices which meant that they had had to move away from their families and live with and work for Mr Booker, who taught them the trade of chimney sweeping. The older boy Luke Clarkson was a journeyman chimney sweep which meant that he had completed his apprenticeship and could work for a master of his choice.

27 On the morning of 12 th October 1840 Mr Booker sent his three chimney sweeps on a journey from Tideswell across the Peak District in search of work. The older journeyman sweep Luke Clarkson was in charge of supervising the two younger boys, George Hadfield and William Steward as they went to look for chimneys to sweep. Use the source packs to help you try and discover what happened to the chimney sweeps on this journey…

28 For more information on our school resources please contact us. Email:

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