Mills were dangerous and frightening environments where children often worked up to fourteen hour days. Child workers experienced exhaustion and suffered with sickness and headaches caused by the noise, heat and dust in the factories.
“And when all the machines went on … I was petrified… absolutely petrified… I felt I were going to collapse where I was. I were only thirteen of course.”
Working in the mill often left children seriously injured or deformed. Many lost their fingers or limbs in accidents with the machinery and the physical labour could be crippling.
“I found it very hard and laborious employment. We had to stoop, to bend our bodies and our legs… now I cannot stand without crutches! I cannot walk at all!”
Children were often treated brutally by the overlookers who supervised them. Child workers suffered punishments such as beatings for even the smallest offences like opening a window or talking.
“The overlooker beat me up to my work! I have been beaten till I was black and blue and I have had my ears torn!”
A case study of Bradford child worker Benjamin Gomersal can be found in the downloads section. Here you can read Benjamin's thoughts on his working conditions and the effect on his health.