Working in factories in the 19th Century was not a pleasant experience, especially when some of the children were so young. Children were forced to work long shifts. The mills and factories were dirty, noisy and hot as well as being very dangerous.
Children started working in the mills from around the ages of 5 or 6 and usually started out as a 'scavenger' or a 'piecer'. Scavengers had to crawl under machinery to pick up loose scraps of cotton or wool. This was very dangerous. Sometimes children were crushed by the machinery, lost fingers or limbs or lost their hair after getting it tangled in machinery.
A piecer had to watch over the power looms and tie any loose threads that got broken by the machinery. Shifts often lasted for over 12 hours and standing up for this length of time left children with rickets (bowed legs), fallen arches (flat feet) and bad backs.
Read the Factory Legislation and Evidence pages, then test your knowledge in our Factory Reform Quiz.