Children at Work

What was it like to work in a factory?

Before factories were invented people mostly worked from home. This was called 'cottage industry' and was part of the domestic system. All members of the family worked together to produce cloth.


From about 1810, powered looms began to be used in factories. Many handloom weavers found it difficult to sell their cloth and were forced to move into the towns with the new factories and mills.


Working in the factories was very different. Rules had to be followed. There were long shifts and few breaks. The mills were very dirty, noisy and hot as well as being very dangerous.


Compare the colour image above of workers in a cottage industry, to the other three images of children in factories.


Glossary:

Handloom - loom run by hand
Powered loom - loom run by machine
Weaver - someone who makes cloth


Download an Activity Sheet comparing historic and contemporary material about Child Labour (click on Worksheets link below)




 
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