Victorian Voices

S Laycock & Sons, Sheffield (part 2)

The following text is a transcript of a page from the 1862 Royal Commission report into Children's Employment. 

It is an interview with 11-year-old Annie Bull, who was one of the 25 children who worked at  S Laycock & Son. This factory in Sheffield made mattresses stuffed with horsehair. Annie worked there as a server, passing the horsehair to a weaver.


Can weave a little bit, but not a [great] deal. Sometimes the woman lets me weave a little bit at dinner time before we begin again.  Sometimes stop nearly an hour for dinner, sometimes half an hour.  

All do not begin again at the same time: it is when each weaver likes.  Sometimes it is 8 or 8˝ a.m. when my weaver comes, but I come afore her and get things ready. 

Had to come the first eight weeks for nothing as a learner, and then got 6s. a piece, but shall get to my 8s. this piece. Wear this little handkerchief round my neck because it is so cold in the morning.  Have to keep going out and warming us hands when it's so very cold.

It is a good many years since I was at any work before I came here. T'master made horn buttons and we had to clip the edges.  There were five or six girls, all about my age: think I was going in 9.  We worked from 7˝ to 6, with a dinner hour.  Got 2s. a week, and master gi'en [given] me 2d. for mysen [myself]. 

Can say the letters, but not spell many. Go to school on Sunday and used to go on weekdays. Have seen a river at Wicker (part of the town). Don't know if there is any bigger river anywhere.  The sea is bigger. Think the sea is not many miles across that ways ( pointing), but many a mile long. There is only one sea, and I cannot tell the names of any.

Discussion ideas:

  • Would you like to do Annie's work?
  • What do you think it was like inside the factory?
  • How many hours each day did she work for the button maker?

Activity ideas:

  • In her first job, Annie earned about 2 shillings (2s) a week. Do you think that this was enough? Use The National Archives Currency Converter website (see link below) to try to work this out.

  • Read the the other work place descriptions (Thomas Turton and Cocker Brothers) and decide where you would prefer to work 

View other relevant My Learning resources or see the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas. 

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