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How did the life of an ordinary person change during the Industrial Revolution

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Eloise Wootton

on 8 May 2013

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Transcript of How did the life of an ordinary person change during the Industrial Revolution

At the beginning The Industrial Revolution witnessed a huge growth in the size of British cities. As enclosure and technical developments in farming had reduced the need for people to work on farmland, many people moved to the cities to get accommodation and a job. These cities were not prepared for such an influx in such a short period of time and cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester etc. (all vital to the Industrial Revolution) suffered problems not witnessed anywhere else in the world at this time. Moving from the countryside to the city Many people hated working in factories, but it was often their only choice. They couldn't afford to go back and live in the countryside, and often, they got very slightly better pay in the city. During the Industrial Revolution, jobs changed a fair bit. A lot more jobs were centered in the city, so most of the population changed trade. Of course there were still some farmers, but a lot less, as there were better jobs in the city. Here are some of the more common jobs:

Just to be clear, computers weren't invented then! Jobs Available Coal Mining Cotton Mills It was very harsh, cold and dirty or very hot and dirty. Dangerous, there were no regulations as regard to health and safety. No guards on machinery, hands and fingers were frequently lost in lathes, or other machinery. Long hair was often caught in machines with the result that scalps were torn off and lives lost. Air quality was very bad. Smoke and dust and fibres in clothing factories were harmful to lungs. Long hours and poor pay ruined the health of the workers. Not a good time to be working in a factory. Factories Resources Agriculture Cities Factories Because it was so hard to move around: and remember, there were no cars, areoplanes or even tarmac roads, people had to rely upon themselves and their communities to provide the vast majority of the things that they needed. Food was produced locally, agriculture could provide for but a few large commercial towns. Clothing was made locally, making use of animal hides and furs: nylon wasn't an option and cotton wasn't imported in large quantities until developments enabled mass production of goods.

Life was, for the bulk of the population, the life of a farmer. By the 18th century the feudal system was long gone, but in it's place was a system in which the people were as reliant upon each other and their master as before.

In general then, people worked in villages and small towns, working the land and relying upon the local community to provide for them. Some people were fortunate enough to benefit from imported goods which came into ports such as London and Bristol in increasing quantities from the Elizabethan age onwards. What was manufactured was done making use of natural elements. Windmills for example could make the life of a miller easier. The Industrial Revolution, which began three hundred years ago, was a period of unprecedented technological, economic and social change that completely transformed British culture from a largely rural, static society with limited production and division of labour into the world's first modern industrial society.

Education was variable. There was no compulsory education in england, but the children of the poor might get a little elementary education at a charity school or 'dame' school. Many children were taught to read and write at home, mothers, if they were literate themselves, often gave children their first lessons. Grammar schools educated middle class boys, the sons of tradesmen, farmers, etc. The children of the upper classes might be educated at home, by private tutors and governesses, or they might go to boarding schools. For boys, Latin and Greek were still very important, and they were at the centre of grammar school and boarding school curriculums. Girls boarding schools often concentrated on fashionable accomolishments like music, drawing, embroidery, and French, though some had more demanding curriculums.

For the majority of children though, the most important part of their education would be learning the practical skills necessary for their survival, to run a small farm, or a to learn a trade. Girls needed the complex skills needed to run a household, and on a farm the women were usually in charge of the poultry and the dairy, for instance.

Many children would work on the familyfarm, or at the family trade, whatever it might be. Others might be apprenticed to trades, or go into domestic service. If they were apprentices or servants, they would normally live in the home of their employer.

Travel was mainly on foot, on horseback or in horsedrawn vehicles, or by water. Roads were not in very good condition before there began to be improvements in the mid 18th century, and it could be slow. The wealthy would have their own horwedrawn carriages, and there were also public coaches, which often carried both mail and passengers, and which ordinary people could use. For local journeys, most people expected to walk, and would think nothing of walking several miles to a town, or to visit friends, or whatever.

An example of a cottage industry would be weaving. Most weavers worked in their own homes, aAlthough weaving was a predominantly male occupation by this time, women and girls did the carding and spinning of wool into thread, so the whole family would be involved. These cities needed cheap homes as the Industrial Revolution continued to grow. There were few building regulations then and those that did exist were frequently ignored. Builders had a freehand to build as they wished. Profit became the main motivator for builders. They knew that those coming to the cities needed a job and somewhere to live. Therefore, a house was put up quickly and cheaply – and as many were built as quicak as possible. The Industrial Revolution saw the start of what were known as back-to-back terrace housing. These had no garden and the only part of the building not connected to another house would be the front (and only) entrance (unless you were lucky enough to live in the end of the terrace). In Nottingham, out of a total of 11,000 homes in the 1840’s, 7,000 were back-to-back. The building material used was the cheapest a builder could find. Cheap slate from Wales was commonly used. The finished homes were damp as none were built with damp courses (courses of impermeable material) and those who could only afford cellar dwellings lived in the worst possible conditions as damp and moisture would seep to the lowest part of the house.
None of these homes was built with a bathroom, toilet or running water. You either washed in a tin bath in the home with the water being collected from a local pump or you simply did not wash. Many didn’t wash as it was simply easier. There would be a courtyard between each row of terraces. Waste of all sorts from the homes was thrown into the courtyard and so-called night-men would collect this at night and dispose of it. Sanitation and hygiene barely existed and throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the great fear was a cholera, typhus or typhoid epidemic. Toilets would have been nothing more than cesspits. When these were filled they had to be emptied and what was collected was loaded onto a cart before being dumped in a local river. This work was also done by the night-men. Local laws stated that their work had to be done at night as the stench created by emptying the cesspits was too great to be tolerated during the day.

When the great social reformer Lord Shaftesbury visited one house, he went into the cellar – where a family was living – and found that the sewage from a nearby cesspit had leaked right under their floor boards. A block of 40 houses would have possibly 6 toilets for all people. It is estimated that on average, 9 people lived in one house, which would mean that 6 toilets served 360 people! Another problem was that it was the responsibility of the landlord of the house to pay to have cesspits emptied and they were never too enthusiastic to do this. One cesspit cost £1 to empty. As the average rent was 2 shillings a week, this equalled 5 weeks rent. No-one in local authority enforced the law and as a result, courtyards could literally flood with sewage. Drainage systems would have changed all of this, but they cost money. Drainage pipes had to be made out of brick as no pipes existed then. One foot of brick drainage pipe cost 11 shillings. The poor could not pay this type of money and the wealthier members of a city were not willing to pay for such an expensive item if it did not benefit them. Liverpool had a drainage system built but only in the areas where the rich merchants and businessmen lived. None existed in the areas where the poor lived. By 1830, 50% of Manchester had no drainage system. The streets where the poor lived were poorly kept. A doctor in Manchester wrote about the city:

"Whole streets, unpaved and without drains or main sewers, are worn into deep ruts and holes in which water constantly stagnates, and are so covered with refuse and excrement as to be impassable from depth of mud and intolerable stench." Fresh water supplies were also very difficult to get in the poor areas. With no running water supplies, the best people could hope for was to leave a bucket out and collect rainwater. Some areas were lucky enough to have access to a well with a pump but there was always the chance that the well water could have been contaminated with sewage from a leaking cesspit. Those who lived near a river could use river water. However, this is where night-men emptied their carts full of sewage and where general rubbish was dumped. Any water collected would have been diluted sewage. The industrial revolution saw a huge increase in coal demand. As a result, there were many coal mining jobs available. This work was both dangerous and unhealthy. Shafts were initially narrow, poorly ventilated and highly flammable. The coal was carried through the mines in baskets and pulled up a vertical shaft. As a result, the process was slow, and miners often spent long periods of time underground. Factory Work The period was renowned for the growth of factories, and a number of factory jobs became available. Conditions were usually dirty, hot and cramped. Factory work was particularly synonymous with child labour, with young workers often operating dangerous and unguarded machinery. The experience acted as a type of "hard schooling" for children, where they would be forced to obey orders to avoid the hazards of the factory. The textile industry saw a boom period during the industrial revolution. Cotton mills were common in Greater Manchester, England, and the New England region of the United States. Workers would use textile machinery to spin yarn and weave cloth, and would often be paid by how much work they did. Weavers and spinners would work around 14 hours per day in harsh conditions. Canal Work Due to the large amounts of new heavy machinery, canals became very important during the industrial revolution. Canals were man-made to help transport these heavy goods and one barge could carry nearly 40 tons of weight. They were normally built by designers and engineers, as opposed to unskilled labourers. The first canal of the industrial revolution was the Bridgewater Canal in the United Kingdom. Built by James Brindley, it was initially built to transport coal to Manchester. Child Labour The Industrial Revolution had a massive impact, especially on the children. They suddenly had to work in factories for long hours and almost no pay, and this could have been a six year old. Although many good changes were coming to Britain, lots of families were still poor, and sent their children to work as soon as possible, even if they had to suffer. Yes, schools were established, but not many children went to school at all. It was either that you had to work, or you got kicked out. In rural areas, children would have worked long hours with hard work for their families farms, but in the cities, the children worked longer hours with harder work for large companies. Harsher treatment, fewer rewards and more sickness and injury came from poorly regulated child labour. Children as young as six years old during the industrial revolution worked hard hours for little or no pay. Children sometimes worked up to 19 hours a day, with a one-hour total break. This was a little bit on the extreme, but it was not common for children who worked in factories to work 12-14 hours with the same minimal breaks. Not only were these children subject to long hours, but also, they were in horrible conditions. Large, heavy, and dangerous equipment was very common for children to be using or working near. Many accidents occurred injuring or killing children on the job. Not until the Factory Act of 1833 did things improve. Children were paid only a fraction of what an adult would get, and sometimes factory owners would get away with paying them nothing. Orphans were the ones subject to this slave-like labor. The factory owners justified their absence of payroll by saying that they gave the orphans food, shelter, and clothing, all of which were far below par. The children who did get paid were paid very little. The treatment of children in factories was often cruel and unusual, and the children's safety was generally neglected. The youngest children, who were not old enough to work the machines, were commonly sent to be assistants to textile workers. The people who the children served would beat them, verbally abuse them, and take no consideration for their safety. Both boys and girls who worked in factories were subject to beatings and other harsh forms of pain. One common punishment for being late or not working up to standards would be to be "weighted." An overseer would tie a heavy weight to the worker's neck, and have them walk up and down the factory aisles so the other children could see them and "take example." This could last up to an hour. Weighting could lead to serious injuries in the back and/or neck. Punishments such as this would often be dispensed under severe rules. Boys were sometimes dragged naked from their beds and sent to the factories only holding their clothes, to be put on there. This was to make sure the boys would not be late, even by a few minutes. There were people in this time period that strongly advocated the use or the abolishment of child labor, or at least the improvement of conditions. Factory owners loved child labor, and they supported their reasoning with ideas that it was good for everything from the economy to the building of the children's characters. Parents of the children who worked were almost forced to at least approve of it because they needed the income. There were, however, some important figures that fought for the regulation, improvement, and/or abolishment of child labor. The first step to improving conditions was in 1833 with the Factory Act passed by Parliament. This limited the amount of hours children of certain ages could work. Specifically, children 9 to 13 years of age were only allowed to work 8 hours a day. Those 14 to 18 years of age could not work more than 12 hours a day. Children under 9 were not allowed to work at all. Also, the children were to attend school for no less than two hours during the day. Perhaps the most important part of this act was the part that said the government would appoint officials to make sure the act was carried out and complied with. Later, in the early 20th century, activists went even further to protect children's rights in labor. What was it like to work in a factory? It would be like hell on earth. Imagine being stuck in a huge dark factory, poisonous fumes everywhere, you're handling chemicals and materials and breathing in toxic fumes that will over time kill you slowly and painfully. The machines were incredibly unsafe and unreliable, most factories had accidents on daily basis, from minor things like losing fingers and toes and getting sprayed in the face by some toxic substance, right up to serious accidents that would cause the deaths of one or often more people. People would be working 16+ hours a day doing hard, hard labour, small children would be running around or sitting under the machines waiting to be called in to get into spaces too small for adults. There were no lunch breaks. there was no protection for the workers, get sacked or injured and you couldn't work anymore Then you would be thrown on to the street to become a beggar.
The life expectancy of working class people in Britain during the Industrial revolution was 35. Inventions How did the life of an ordinary person change during the Industrial Revolution? Inventions Some well known inventions:
Pneumatic tyres (the tyres we have today)
Steam Engine (leading to steam ships)
Food Canning
Electric Lamp
Traffic Lights
Machine Gun
Vacuum Cleaner
Any many more! Thses inventions had a large impact on a normal person's daily life, as so many things were changing, things were changing and being invented: some things were "evolving". Could you imagine always having to walk to work, and then the bicycle is invented? You would think of it as a miracle!
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