It was back in the 1800’s when the Industrial Revolution made its way throughout the whole of Britain. This revolution was brought on by a number of things mostly which was the advancement of technology relating to the transportation of products not only through the country, but also throughout the world.
Prior to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the towns were sparse and rather small being limited to only a few shops and taverns. At this time, most of the country was farming, committed to the rearing of various animals and crops. As the modes of transportation improved thanks to the advent of the steam engine which connected towns and countryside by railways. This steam engine would also be used in boats as a means of connecting various ports located in and throughout the country.
As the transportation capabilities improved, more and more businesses began to emerge allowing for the supply of the demand for various items needed in the larger towns. As a result, many people who were once poor farmers, made their way into the towns looking for jobs that would pay higher wages then they could ever earn from their farm.
Furthermore, as this exodus continued, the populations of the towns began to increase substantially which not only led to large growth into cities, but also made way for more spending. In return, the more of the wages that were spent on items that would previously be spared only for the wealthy, the cheaper the cost of manufacturing the products got and the more factories that grew.
The companies in some cases would create row style houses that were fairly substandard, but allowed the worker to live close to their place of employment and as a result, cities continued to expand well into the countryside. Back then, these homes during the Victorian Era were of 3 to four bedrooms but usually had no running water or toilets. Because of this overly excessive growth and substandard housing that were quite often overcrowded and too cramped to begin with, in 1832 a major cholera outbreak took more than 31,000 lives not including the smallpox, typhus and dysentery outbreaks around the same time.
From homes being too closely crowded together and the many factories which were relying on coal powered steam, the black coal soot would quite often block out the sun and even left a blanket of black filth on the streets. This of course was all in the advent of life through the Industrial Revolution that created many new social patterns like the newly added working class.
As a result of the horrendous conditions created in the earlier years of the Industrial Revolution and in a response to the outcry of the working class, Parliament passed new legislation which allowed the various city councils to clean up their city’s streets. As a result, sewers and drains were built, various laws were passed to reduce the amount of black coal smoke in the air as well as the paving of streets, the adding of street lights and the rebuilding of homes to new building codes and standards.
As the factories continued to grow, but the wages of the workers did not, it would not be uncommon for a working class family to have the women as well as the children working in the factories. As far as the children went, they were often overworked and harshly treated by the supervisors. Children as young as the age of five could have been seen working in a factory during the Industrial Revolution and although the wages were too low, it was just enough for the child to afford a meal.
As the factories continued to grow, the coal needed to power their steam systems grew in demand and as a result the mines too would employ women and children to bring up the coal. It was not uncommon for a mine to collapse back then and every day workers of all types would be injured from many hazards associated with mining coal. Luckily by 1842, the Mines Act was passed which prevented the employment of women and girls in the mines. Furthermore, boys under the age of 10 were also banned, and later this act would be modified to prevent any male child under the age of 12 from working in the mines.
The factories were also in need of material from the mills and as a result, thousands of children would be found in employment at various mills. It was also not uncommon at the time for a mill owner to take in orphans who would work for extended hours everyday. Some children’s hands would be crushed in the mill, while other children would be worked so hard that they would fall asleep and actually fall in the mill to their death.
As the years of the Industrial Revolution let on, many changes would be made to make things safer and healthier for the working class as well as the many orphaned children who were found roaming the streets. Today, many of these orphaned children are now the ancestors to many people who live all over the world. The horrendous conditions that were associated with the Industrial revolution led many people to make their way to the New World to start a new life of promise that they would not have had if they had stayed in England back in the later 1800’s to the early 1900’s.
Original Authors: Nick (Globel Team)
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 11/07/2008