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The cruelty of child labor in victorian england

Contact Author A lot of tut-tutting goes on today when the horrors of child labour are exposed in the developing world. For the owners of cotton mills, mines, and factories the children came cheap and helped to pad profits. Child mine workers were called "red tips" because they sorted jagged pieces of coal with their bare hands until their fingers bled.

Source Small Children Worked as Chimney Sweeps Being tiny, children could scramble up or down the chimneys of upper-class Victorian houses; some were as young as three years old. The job of a chimney sweep was to brush off accumulated soot in the chimney.

Of course, they wore no protection against the rough brickwork, so their knees and elbows would be sliced and bruised until they developed calluses. Then, there was all the soot they had no choice but to inhale causing lung damage. After work their arms and legs are bleeding so I rub them with salt-water before sending them up another chimney. Sometimes, this led to suffocation. Charles Dickens, who drew some of his material from real living conditions in Victorian England, gave an unflattering picture of one such gentleman named Gamfield, to whom Oliver Twist was to be apprenticed.

Gamfield did happen to labour under the slight imputation of having bruised three or four boys to death already. Hurriers and fillers were small children who loaded trucks with coal by hand as it was pried from the the cruelty of child labor in victorian england face by older men.

Other children would then drag the trucks of coal along passageways often no more than three feet high. Many children developed a permanent stoop as their spines deformed.

Child Labour in Victorian Britain

Then, there was the ever-present danger of cave-ins and explosions. Source Trappers were employed to open and close ventilation doors in the passages as the truckloads of coal were hauled to the mine shaft. The trappers worked in total darkness in shifts of between 12 and 18 hours a day. Payment was a few pennies a week to add to the meagre earnings of families that lived in absolute squalor. Witness report from a government inquiry.

Source Campaign to End Child Exploitation During the second decade of the 19th century campaigns to end the worst abuses began to gather support. After a great deal of pressure from reformers a royal commission was set up to look into the issue of child labour. In 1832, one of the reformers, Richard Oastler, gave testimony to the commission in which he described the awful conditions of the cruelty of child labor in victorian england labour and mentioned an occasion on which he was in the company of a slave master from the West Indies.

Victorian Era Child Labor Practise

Oastler said the man compared the system of slavery with that of mill workers in Yorkshire. He quoted the slave master as saying: Source The Children Who Built Victorian Britain Many of the youngsters the commission heard from were quite stoical about their situations. Large families were forced to live in overcrowded hovels without heat or sanitation. A commission inspector in Dublin found a family of 14 living in a room that was 12 feet square.

Personal hygiene was next to impossible and the slums in which people lived were infested with vermin. In these conditions, of course, disease was rampant.

So, for many children, the awful circumstances of the workplace were a better option than being at home. The cruelty of child labor in victorian england — Primary History lists some of the meagre gains: The heavy rainfall caused a stream to burst its banks and water poured into a drift that 26 children were using to get out of the mine.

The children died in the flooded drift, among them James Burkinshaw aged seven and Catherine Garnet aged eight. Chimney sweep bosses underfed their child workers so they would be the cruelty of child labor in victorian england enough to go down chimneys In the United Kingdom the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was formed in 1824.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was not created until 67 years later in 1891. I can't be sure, but I find it hard to believe anything could be tougher than crawling in a dark tunnel in a mine pulling a load of coal.