Recently I’ve been researching the working conditions of women and children in the textile mills and the pits in the 19C before the Factory Acts were passed.…It’s difficult for us to comprehend what terrible conditions they had to work through….such very harsh times! Working class children never knew what it was to enjoy their childhood.
There was a great demand for female and child labour. In the textile factories women and children were expected to work very long hours, often in twelve hour shifts.
In 1819 the government passed an Act making it illegal for children under the age of nine to work in these textile mills, but because no-one was appointed to check if this new Act was being adhered to, no changes in the working conditions were made. So another act was passed in 1833 and Inspectors were appointed…..
Now, children under the age of nine were banned from working in textile mills and children aged between nine and thirteen were only allowed to work for twelve hours each day…Older children up to eighteen years of age were given a maximum of sixty nine hours per week to work, and no-one under the age of eighteen was allowed to work at night.
…This was a big step forward!
The year 1842 saw the Miners act which banned all women and children under the age of ten from working underground…the conditions underground in the pits at this time were terrible! .. Further Acts in 1850 and in 1867 made more slight differences to the working conditions in the pits for women and children.
1844 saw a further Act concerning the textile factories. It banned women from working for more than twelve hours per day, and from 1847 both women and children were only allowed to work ten hours maximum each day in the textile factories
In 1871 Bank Holidays were created, and some skilled workers were given a week’s annual paid holiday – Although it was the middle of the 20th century before every worker enjoyed this concession. By the end of the 19th century it was common practice for all workers to be given a half day’s holiday on a Saturday.