Did it solve the problems of children in factories?
In 1833 the Government passed a Factory Act to improve conditions for children working in factories. Young children were working very long hours in workplaces where conditions were often terrible. The basic act was as follows:
- No child workers under nine years of age
- Employers must have an age certificate for their child workers
- Children of 9-13 years to work no more than nine hours a day
- Children of 13-18 years to work no more than 12 hours a day
- Children are not to work at night
- Two hours schooling each day for children
- Four factory inspectors appointed to enforce the law.
However, the passing of this act did not mean that the mistreatment of children stopped overnight. Using these sources, investigate how the far the act had solved the problems of child labour.
- Who gave the evidence to the factory inspector?
- Work out how many hours (not including breaks), the boys are reported to have worked without stopping.
- Which parts of the new Factory Act have been broken?
- What does the tone of the letter tell us about what the factory inspectors thought about the firm Taylor, Ibbotson & Co?
- Having studied this source, would you be right to conclude that the 1833 Factory Act did nothing to solve the problems of child workers? Explain your answer.
1. This is an extract from a Factory Inspectors Report (1836).
- What is the most common offence recorded?
- Work out how much is fined for the different offences.
- By looking at the fines, which offence is regarded as the most serious?
- How effective was the 1833 Factory Act? Explain your answer. (Hint: is the number of convictions a good or bad sign?)
2. This is a piece of a document detailing which companies broke the law.
- What kind of factory is the boy working in?
- How old do you think he is?
- Write a list of all the dangers you can see in the factory and what you think could be done to improve them.
- This photograph is from 1903, 70 years after the first Factory Act. Explain whether you think work in the factory had improved for child workers by this time.
- Is the illustration at the top of this page and this photograph reliable evidence of working conditions in a factory? Give reasons for your answer.