Category Archives: Working

Richard Oastler and factory reform

John A. Hargreaves and E. A. Hilary Haigh, (eds.) Slavery in Yorkshire: Richard Oastler and the campaign against child labour in the Industrial Revolution (University of Huddersfield), 2012 238pp., rrp £24 paper , ISBN 978-1-86218-107-6. The book is also available … Continue reading

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Sex, Work and Politics: Women in Britain, 1830-1918

JUST PUBLISHED   In 1830, women of all classes were repressed in a male-dominated society. By 1918, largely through their own struggles, they had seized control over most areas of their lives. Some of these sought access to the public … Continue reading

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Posted in Books, Class, Education, Government and reform, Middle Class, Nineteenth century politics, Nineteenth century society, Nineteenth century women, Upper Class, Working, Working Class | Tagged , , ,

Why did the professions expand after 1800?

The development of a substantial and powerful professional group within the middle-classes gathered considerable pace in the later Victorian period.[1] The growth and maturation of the world’s first modern capitalist economy played an important role in this process and the … Continue reading

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How far were entrepreneurs agents of change in the nineteenth century?

During the economic transformation between 1780 and 1830, entrepreneurs were regarded as the main instruments of change because of their enterprise and innovation, organisational skill and their ability to exploit commercial opportunities.[1] Many industrial pioneers operated in a uniquely favourable … Continue reading

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What was the aristocracy of labour?

In 1870 George Potter, a prominent unionist and radical journalist wrote, The working man belonging to the upper-class of his order is a member of the aristocracy of the working-classes. He is a man of some culture, is well read … Continue reading

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What was unemployment in the nineteenth century?

It is difficult to superimpose twenty-first century notions of unemployment on the mid-nineteenth century labour market. There are no statistics, national or otherwise. Patterns of work were very diverse, varying between different industries and trades but also within the same … Continue reading

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Working in the countryside

By the early 1830s, many rural areas were beginning to emerge from the worst rural distress of the agricultural depression and direct rural protest, such as the Captain Swing riots in 1830 in southern England, were not repeated, rural wages … Continue reading

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How did working-class standards of living rise after 1875?

Despite the persistence of skill differentials, the working-class became more homogeneous in late-Victorian England. The proportion of the occupied population engaged in farming fell from 15% in 1871 to 7.5% in 1901 as rural migrants entered the most rapidly expanding … Continue reading

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Skilled workers and changing production 1875-1914

Culture and community in the factory became the concern of ‘scientific management’, a comprehensive strategy significantly in advance of the paternalism of the 1850s and 1860s. The working environment improved as employers implemented new factory legislation and extended the range … Continue reading

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Working in factories, 1850-1875

Craft-like control persisted in amended form in the mid-Victorian factory, a privilege enjoyed by a new aristocracy of labour. John Foster argues that these new aristocrats derived their status from a change in employer strategy. Skilled workers were incorporated in … Continue reading

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From domestic to ‘modern’ production, 1815-1850

The subject of the working-classes in the nineteenth century is an enormous one.[1] It is difficult to overestimate the importance of work in working-class life. Work helped determine two fundamental elements of working-class existence: the ways in which workers spent … Continue reading

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Extending factory reform beyond 1878

Legislation restricting or prohibiting women’s work in mines or limiting their duties or hours of work featured prominently in the factory reforms of the 1830s and 1840s. When the issue was revisited in the 1880s with women’s employment as its … Continue reading

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Factory reform: extending the early legislation, 1850-1880

The Ten Hours Act, together with the repeal of the Corn Laws, came to be regarded as part of the symbolic ‘social settlement’ underpinning the apparent social harmony of the mid-Victorian period. The absence of factory acts became part of … Continue reading

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Factory reform in the 1840s: revised version

The ten-hour movement had been out-manoeuvred by the Whigs and its campaign against the 1833 Act proved ineffective. In October 1833, Oastler formed the Factory Reformation Society to continue the campaign but in November Robert Owen and John Fielden announced … Continue reading

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The Ten Hour Movement and the 1833 Factory Act: revised version

The emergence of the short-time or Ten Hour movement after 1830 has its origins in the late-eighteenth century when concerns about the deteriorating conditions in child employment initially developed.[1] Early legislative efforts, however, depended largely on benevolent individuals. Sir Robert … Continue reading

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