Life in the Victorian Age
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Life in the Victorian Age A Window into the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Welcome to the Victorian Age The Victorian age in British history is named after Queen Victoria, who was Britain's queen from 1837 until 1901. Queen Victoria was born on May 24th, 1819. There were big differences in homes, schools, toys and entertainments. No TV, no computers, no central heating, no cars (until the last few years of Victoria's reign). No air travel - unless you went up in a balloon! Many children went to work, not to school.
Families in the 1800s In Victorian times, many families had 10 or more children. Sadly, many children died as babies, or from diseases such as small pox and diphtheria.
Rich Families Rich families had large houses, with a special room for children called the nursery. In the nursery younger children ate, played and slept. Some rich children saw their parents only in the morning and evening, and were looked after mostly by their nanny and by other servants. Most Victorians thought children should be 'seen and not heard'.
Rich Families In a Victorian town, it was easy to tell who was rich and who was poor. Children from richer homes were well fed, wore warm clothes and had shoes on their feet. They did not work, but went to school or had lessons at home.
Clothing Victorian children were usually dressed like miniature adults. Boy babies often wore skirts - later a boy might wear a sailor suit. For parties, lots of little Victorian girls wore red cloaks - perhaps because Little Red Riding Hood was a favorite nursery story.
Poor Families Poor children looked thin and hungry, wore ragged clothes, and some had no shoes. Poor children had to work. They were lucky if they went to school. Some poor children wore secondhand boots or shoes, nicknamed 'translators'.
Poor Families Poor people often ate a poor diet. They had to buy cheap tea with blackberry leaves added, sugar mixed with sand, and milk thickened with powdered chalk, meat once a week was a treat. Many poor children lived in tiny country cottages or in city slums
There were millions of horses in Victorian Britain. Horse-drawn vehicles jammed the streets, like cars and trucks today.
Water Cart Omnibus Cart
Elite Carriage of the Rich
What Jobs did the Children Do Children worked on farms, in homes as servants, and in factories. Children often did jobs that required small size and nimble fingers. But they also pushed heavy coal trucks along tunnels in coal mines.
Boy jobs vs. Girl Jobs Boys went to sea, as boy-sailors, and girls went 'into service' as housemaids. Girl flower-sellers also sold oranges (when the fruit was available, not all-year- round like today) They kept fresh longer than flowers. Children worked on city streets, selling things such as flowers, matches and ribbons. Crossing boys swept the roads clean of horse-dung and rubbish left by the horses that pulled carts and carriages.
The British Empire Britain ruled the British Empire. Victoria was Empress of India as well as Queen of Britain, Canada (the biggest country in the Empire) and small countries such as Jamaica. Trade with the Empire helped make Britain rich. Some British children emigrated with their families to new homes in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada. Children were taught about the Empire in school. In Victorian classrooms, children could easily find the countries of the Empire on a map because they were colored pink or red.
December 2, 2009
The Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the era of rapid and great change in industry and manufacturing with the growth of factories, beginning in the late 1700s. The Industrial Revolution changed Britain from a land of small towns, villages and farms into a land of cities, large towns and factories. The population grew from 16 million in 1801 to over 41 million by 1901. Cities grew fast, as people moved from the countryside to work in factories.
Work in the Victorian Age Men, women and children worked in factories, and in coal mines. Factory and mine owners became rich, but most factory and mine workers were poor. They were paid low wages, and lived in unhealthy, overcrowded slums. Slum was an area of bad housing, with poor hygiene and sanitation
Factories Britain was the first country in the world to have lots of factories. Factory machines made all kinds of things. Machines did jobs, such as spinning, previously been done by families at home.
Most of the factories were located in North of England
Most factory workers live in proximity to the factories they worked in living in small houses near the factories.
Different types of factories, industries, and mines The different types of factories, industries, and mines that you could find during the Industrial Revolution in London were cotton mills, carpet mills, iron works, coal mines, and slate mines Many children worked in factories in Britain's fastgrowing industrial towns. This is Bradford, Yorkshire, in 1873
A Typical day in a Victorian factories
Factories were noisy. People had to shout above the rattle and hiss of machinery. They breathed air full of dust, oil and soot. Iron and steel workers got so hot that workers dripped with sweat. Flames and sparks lit up the sky darkened by smoke from factory chimneys
Midlands in England
The area of the Midlands in England, around Birmingham, was so smoky from iron works and factories that people called it “Black Country”.
The city of Manchester, about 1870. With so many mills and factories, the air was polluted by smoke and dirt.
Why Children Worked Many Victorian children were poor and worked to help their families. Few people thought this strange or cruel. Families got no money unless they worked, and most people thought work was good for children. Many of these jobs were at first done by children, because children were cheap a child was paid less than adults (just a few pennies for a week's work).
Mill-worker children ate porridge and onions for breakfast and oatcakes with milk for dinner. They also had to eat standing up. Standing for so long at a machine affected growing children's bones. It made some boys 'knocked-kneed'. Factory work was dangerous for small girls because they had to crawl under the machines and could get their hair or limbs caught.
Children Working a Cotton Mill
Children line up to be paid for their work.
Start of Child Labor Laws People called reformers, such as Lord Shaftesbury (1801-1885), argued in Parliament for laws to stop childwork. Inspectors, called Commissioners, went into factories and mines. They talked to working children to find out the facts. These are three of the new laws passed by Parliament.
New Laws 1841 Mines Act - No child under the age of 10 to work underground in a coal mine. 1847 Ten Hour Act - No child to work more than 10 hours in a day. 1874 Factory Act - No child under the age of 10 to be employed in a factory.
Coal Mines Most of the energy we use today comes in the form of electricity or oil. In Victorian times, energy came from water-power (waterwheels), from horses and above all from burning coal. Coal was as important to Victorians as oil is to us today. In just 40 years the amount of coal dug from British mines rose from 16 million tons (1830) to over 121 million tons
What was Coal used for? Steam engines burned coal. Steam engines drove factory machines, locomotives pulling trains and steamships. All this coal had to be dug from coal mines. Britain had a lot of coal, deep in rocks beneath the ground. .
Steam Railway Station
What did a Coal Mine look like? Most coal was dug from deep mines. A long vertical shaft was dug down from the surface. Leading off from it were side tunnels. Miners rode in a lift, worked by a steam engine. In the tunnels, they hacked at the coal with picks and shovels.
Why was it dangerous Coal mines were dark, dirty and dangerous. The only light came from candles and oil lamps. Gas in the mine could choke miners, or explode. Tunnels could flood or collapse. Accidents killed many miners.
Canaries in a Coal Mine?
Some miners took canary birds in cages down the mine. If it breathed in dangerous gas, the canary passed out (fainted), and the miners hurried to safety.
Who ran the Coal Mine Coal mines were owned by the person on whose land they were dug. The mine owners sold their coal to the factories. Some mine owners were very rich, but they paid miners low wages. They did not care about health and safety, so at first they let small children and women work underground.
Laws passed to protect Miners The Parliament was the law-making body made up of elected members of Parliament and non-elected Lords. In 1842, Parliament stopped women and children under 10 years old from working underground. In 1860 the age limit for boy-miners was raised to 12, and in 1900 to 13.
Children Working in the Coal Mine Some children pushed trucks of coal along mine tunnels. They were called 'putters'. 'Trappers' opened and shut wooden doors to let air through the tunnels. A trapper boy sat in the dark, with just a small candle, and no-one to talk to.
A boy pushing the cart and a Trapper
Working Conditions in Mines Some children started work at 2 in the morning and stayed below ground for 18 hours. Children working on the surface, sorting coal, at least saw daylight and breathed fresh air.
A girl pulling a cart through the mines
Entertainment Victorians made their own entertainment at home They enjoyed singing, and a rich family would sing around the piano. While poorer families enjoyed tunes on a pipe or a fiddle. Families played card games and board games, and acted out charades.
At birthday parties, a special treat was a magic lantern show. An oil or gas lamp sent a beam of light through a glass lens and onto a screen, to show enlarged images, perhaps of wild animals or a story told in pictures.
Fun and Games In street games, children shared toys like hoops, marbles and skipping ropes, with friends in the street, or in the school playground. They played chasing games such as tag and played catch with balls. If they hadn't got a proper ball, they made balls from old rags, and bats from pieces of wood.
Street Games They also played hopscotch. Victorian children were able to play out in the street as there was less traffic than today. There were no cars until the 1880s. They crowded around street musicians, wheeling a barrel organ, which played tunes when the handle was turned.Sometimes barrel organ players had a monkey with them.
More Street Games Children played outdoor chasing games such as tag (which had lots of other names, such as touch or tig), Other games like Tom Tiddler's Ground, where one player (Tom) tries to catch anyone trespassing on his or her ground, shown by a line. They also played a version of musical chairs, using cushions or old rags to sit on.
More Games At Easter, children played 'EggShackling'. In this game, everyone put an egg with their name on in a basket or sieve, which was shaken until the eggs broke. The last egg left unbroken won.
Books Victorian children were often given books with improving moral lessons, about characters with names like Lazy Lawrence and Simple Susan. A favorite story was Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies about a badly treated chimney-boy. There were lots of books written specially for children, such as Treasure Island (about pirates) by R L Stevenson and Black Beauty (about a horse) by Anna Sewell.
Perhaps the most famous Victorian children's book is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) written by Lewis Carroll.