Terrible Times for Children during Bradford's Textile Revolution


Richard Oastler, Margaret Macmillan and William Edward Forster were important local figures who fought to reform the textile industry and improve conditions for child workers in the mills.

  • Richard Oastler helped bring about the 1847 Factory Act which made the working day a maximum of ten hours.
  • Margaret McMillan's campaigns resulted in the 1906 Provision of School Meals Act. She also carried out the first medical inspections of primary school children.
  • William Edward Forster, MP for Bradford between 1861 and 1886, helped to develop the 1870 Education Act, which established a national education system.
     "These children should be freed from exploitation"
                                                         Richard Oastler

There were many other Acts which improved conditions in the mill. Legislation covered working hours, workplace safety and the provision of education. After 1837, birth certificates were required to prove children were old enough for work, and an Act of 1874 allowed children to be ‘half-timers’ meaning that they worked part time and went to school when they weren’t at the mill. Annie Galloway’s Labour certificate for partial exemption is pictured.

Factory Acts and Legislation and Bradford Reformers can be downloaded as information sheets.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Bradford Industrial Museum | 
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