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The Working Class Of The Victorian Era

Infomation on different aspects of the working class in the victorian era including: housing, fashion, education, working conditions, job opportunities, recreational activities, marriage, diet and living conditions. Includes pictures, source material

Jomadnhy Smith

on 26 August 2013

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Transcript of The Working Class Of The Victorian Era

The Working Class Of The Victorian Era
- The children in the working class received a basic form of education
- Sunday school.
- They had a range of recreational activities available to them and some even contributes to their income - trading at pawn shops, produce shows.
- They were allowed to choose who they married.
- Although they didn't have the most pleasant jobs, most factory workers were still able to provide the basic amenities such as food. It was better than having no job at all.
-They had shelter and closely knit communities.
- Women were healthier compared to the wealthier women as they did not wear tight corsets.
- Job opportunities in the city opened up to country people. It meant they could earn more money in the city than in the country.

- They had poor and sometimes no sanitation. They also had no sewage system.
- Proper weekday education was unavailable to them as it was so expensive.
- They couldn't marry anyone outside of their own class
- They worked in factories for long hours with little or no break. They earned low, insubstantial wages.
- Children were even forced to working which had an impact on their health
- Their houses were very close to each other and they had uncomfortable living spaces.
-Their foods were limited and low in quantity as well as quality.
- They had very low wages, but it was better than working under 'a master'
By Nhy Cao, Madeline Dal Corobbo & Josephine Ugwu
Living Conditions
The working class didn't have very good living conditions at all.

Many families lived crowded together as more and more people packed into the growing cities.

Several families shared limited outdoor toilets and water pumps.

Sanitation was poor and there was no sewage or drainage systems.

Life was tough, they worked long hours and their primary concern was earning money for family.
According to Source 1, the working class house was usually sandwiched between other houses.
In reference to Source 2, the working class house was confined into small spaces.
According to Source 3, the houses were usually dilapidated cottages and there was inadequate sanitation.
Some of the working class lived in massive slums in Glasgow.
Working Class Housing (typical inside setting)
- They did not bother to wear tight corsets, as it would only be impractical and slow them down. They would wear loose comfortable clothes appropriate for working.
- Often wore second hand clothes “out of fashion” clothes from the higher class women.
- Sometimes made own clothes from wool and cotton.
- Wore shoes made of stitched pieces of thin leather

- Wore trousers made of moleskin or corduroy (cotton), clean white or checkered shirt, a black coat and/or vest and maybe a scarf if they managed to get one.
- Men didn’t get into the fashion area, except some wore trendy clothes such as peg-top trousers, suspenders.
Boys wore the same type clothes similarly to men, except in smaller sizes.
Although education was for the privileged, around two thirds of the children in the working class population attended Sunday school.

This provided them with the basic foundation of reading, writing, arithmetic and religious morals.
At Sunday School
Working Conditions
The industrial revolution saw the rise in factories, factories that required human labor. People of the working class engaged in factory work.

Conditions for the working class were poor as they had no social security.

They worked for long hours with little or no break.

Children were even forced to work in factories which took a toll on their health. Some children even had to clean chimneys.
• Working class ate very little, with meat only two times a week
• For the poorest, potatoes, bread and cheese, even rotten vegetables
• Working-class were usually seen shopping for 'tainted' pieces of meat and 'those odds and ends of meat, the by-products of the butchering business.
• Some labourers had never tasted meat. The less fortunate workers ate less than one pound (500grams) of meat a week and less than eight ounces (230g) of fats.

Recreational Activities
The people of the working class were usually busy but when they did have time their recreational activities would have included:
- bowling
- fruit and vegetable shows
- flower shows
- meeting of trades and friendly societies
- drinking in public houses
- trading items for income at a pawn shops
- and occasionally, attended the theatre but having bought cheap seats.
Jop Opportunities
- 30-40 per cent of women from working class families contributed significantly to household incomes in the mid-Victorian years.
- Both men and women would have worked in factories. Many women would have worked in the garment industry, sewing clothes, domestic servants; it was badly paid work.
- A majority worked in a “bad working conditions”
- Men might’ve been blacksmiths, builders, carpenters or craftsmen of various kinds. Some worked at railways, or in dockyards. People might be shopkeepers. A woman might have her own dressmaking or millinery business (making hats). People might keep a pub or a pie shop or eating house.
Class Structure in 1850 2011, Learnhistory3, May 11, Youtube.

Victorian England: An Introduction, n.d., Uwosh.edu, accessed 25 August 2013, <http://www.english.uwosh.edu/roth/VictorianEngland.htm>.

Victorian Social History, 2013, The Victorian Web, accessed 25 August 2013, <http://www.victorianweb.org/history/sochistov.html>.
Marriage Source: The Annals of Labour: Autobiographies of British Working Class People, 1820-1920. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1974. GPL
BBC n.d. Horrible Histories - Victorian Work Song, online video, 6 June 2011, accessed 25 August 2013, <
BBC n.d. HORRIBLE HISTORIES - Shouty Man: Victorian Child, online video, 30 June 2009, accessed 25 August 2013, <
Burnett, J 2001 Working-Class Attitudes: Stoicism and Acceptance, Victorian Web, accessed 25 August 2013, <http://www.victorianweb.org/history/work/burnett6.html>.
Housing Source 1 & 2: A report of 1842 on working class house in Stockton, in the north of England
Housing Source 3: A book written by Fredrich Engels, The Conditions Of The Working Class In England (1844):
Mitchell, S 1996 The Working Class, Wuthering Heights, accessed 25 August 2013, <http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/intro98/ray_student_page/group_2/class-W.htm>.
Hodkinson, J 2002, Victorian Life, Rhapsody, accessed 24 August 2013, <http://www.angelfire.com/ok/hoddies/victoriana.html>.
Victorian Era, 2011, Blogspot, accessed 24 August 2013, <http://victorianeracnr.blogspot.com.au/>
Wohl, A 2011, What the Poor Ate, The Victorian Web, accessed 24 August 2013, <http://www.victorianweb.org/science/health/health8.html>.
Women in the Victorian era, 2013, Wikipedia, accessed 24 August 2013, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_Victorian_era>.

Thank you for watching!
However, weekday school was attended by the upper classes.

In 1870, a law was passed that stated that all children aged 5-10 had to attend weekday school.
Even so, many working class children did not attend as it was out of their family's budget and parents would rather them start earning money for the family.
As for adults, some were educated in how to read and write but they were mostly educated in the work field they were in.
For example, a woman who sews pillows for a living will be mostly educated in how to sew.
A Public Drinking House
From this source we can understand that the working class knew they couldn't associate with the upper classes so marriage was usually confined to their own class.

They had the freedom to choose who they wanted to marry unlike the upper class who had to marry relations to keep wealth within the family.
Marriage Source 1
"[the working class are] barely conscious of class beyond a recognition that the 'masters' constitute a different order of society into which they will never penetrate."
Source 1
, ‘Shepherd’s Buildings consist of two rows of houses with a street ….between them; each row consists of what are styled back and front houses – that is two houses placed back to back,’

Source 2
‘there are no yards or out conveniences [outhouses]’

Source 3
‘the….cottages were in bad order, never repaired, filthy, with damp, unclean cellar dwellings…’ and ‘….the lanes are neither paved nor supplied with sewers, but harbour numerous colonies of swine’.
The Working Class Houses

- Young working class women would buy fine hats and shawls instead of proper shoes, petticoats, woollen stockings that would protect her and benefit her whilst working.
- They did not bother to wear tight corsets like high class women, as it would only be impractical and slow them down. They would wear loose comfortable clothes appropriate for working.
- Often wore second hand clothes “out of fashion” clothes from the higher class women.
- Sometimes made own clothes from wool and cotton.
- Wore shoes made of stitched pieces of thin leather

Working class women wearing decent clothing.
- At an early age the children would be out looking for work or roaming the streets looking for odd jobs.
- Country people had the opportunity to come out to the city to earn money.
Grave Digger
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