Missing proper British Food? Click to Shop now. In nineteenth-century London, labour was cheap and expendable. The Industrial Revolution brought millions of people from the country to the cities as agricultural mechanisation took away their jobs. With so many wanting and needing a job, there was little incentive for industrialists to treat their workforce well. Living in poverty with squalid overcrowded conditions, was the norm. But the political actions of a group of young female unskilled factory workers led to radical improvements in working conditions throughout the UK.

London History: The East End Match Girls’ Strike of 1888

Children in the Victorian Era were often forced to work almost as soon as they could walk. This was not something new to the Victorian period as children had always been expected to work for hundreds of years. Many were used as cheap labor. Children worked very long hours with little breaks and no fresh air. They often worked in very dangerous conditions resulting in injuries or even death.

Match-workers’ strike at Bryant & May’s factory in Bow That leads to 1, girls marching out of the wood matchmaking department who The Advertiser in a profound editorial reflects the change in Victorian social.

Many Victorian-era jobs were downright dangerous. Here are five of the worst In the series, year-old Graham Potter puts his back out at a bell foundry after a long, gruelling day which is, sadly, devoid of gruel or any other food. Source: SBS. Although, on the plus side, no-one would want to get close enough to you to catch anything infectious. In the Victorian slums, sometimes the only thing worse than not having a job was having a job.

There were many many, many jobs that could kill you — jobs that seemed, in fact, practically designed to kill you. The factories especially appeared to be places specifically designed to kill people and occasionally produce cotton cloth or porcelain, for instance. Children were often maimed or killed by machinery. But even worse than that was….

And not the fun, millionaire kind. But on the show they only have to assemble boxes in their own home. Phossy Jaw was a hideously disfiguring disease caused by working with phosphorous without the usual safeguards found in no Victorian-era factory ever.

Friction Matches Were a Boon to Those Lighting Fires–Not So Much to Matchmakers

There was no such thing as Child Protective services like we have today. There were laws that were passed over a period of several decades that slightly improved the working conditions and treatment of children. Victorian Child Labor was prevalent in the Victorian Era.

“The trade of making match-boxes at home is, I trust, a dying one; but as, The women fetch out from the factory, or the middle-woman’s, strips.

Many of the poor, uneducated, and unskilled women they employed had come from Ireland following the potato famine. They liked to drink and got into fights, which made them widely despised. Not the behaviour expected of a woman in Victorian society! At this time there were about thirty matchmaking firms in London.

Many of them, including Bryant and May, employed children. The Commission on the Employment of Children in Industry was set up, and it investigated all 30 of the London match making firms in In Wilberforce Bryant, eldest son of William, had become overall manager. He was keen to sell as many matches as possible and decided to increase production. Francis May disapproved of his aggressive approach but refused to give up his partnership.

It was only the threat of a court case, which would have brought shame on Quakers, that forced him out in By Bryant and May had over employees, many of whom were also seasonal fruit pickers. Most of the workforce were piece-workers, so it is difficult to calculate exactly how much each worker was paid. Many of them made matchboxes at home and had to pay for the materials such as string, glue and fuel for the fire to dry the finished boxes.

Quakers in the World

Catherine Best does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. But these were the women who worked 14 hours a day in the East End of London and who were exposed to deadly phosphorous vapours on a daily basis.

The effect literally causing the jaw bone to rot.

In , one fourth of the workers in the coal mines of Great Britain were children Factory Worker; Matchmaking; Scare the birds from the fields; Pottery Making.

We use a lot of matches in Australia : on an average of 10 matches per person, per month. This is done by feeding the logs through powerful rotating teeth that work like an enormous cheese grater, scraping off the bark at a great speed. The barkless logs are then sawn into manageable 60 cm in length, called billets. In the next stage of the transformation from tree to match splint, the billets are spun at high speed against a fixed, sharp blade, and like a knife through butter, the blade shaves the billets into sheets of wood the thickness of a match, and about 3 metres long.

These sheets of match veneer are then stacked and fed through a chopper, a kind of guillotine, which cuts them into match-stick length with amazing speed. In one minute the chopper produces , splints or approximately 10 million splints every hour. This is where the individual match splints are produced. Because the trees from which the splints are made had no time to dry out the splints are still wet. There is just one more stage before they are dried. From the chopper, the splints take a ride on a conveyor belt to a bath containing a special liquid an ammonium phosphate solution in which they are given a really good soaking.

This treatment is referred to as impregnation and is a safety process that stops the matches from glowing after the flame has been put out. The splints are now dried in large kilns, and then fed into polishing drums to take off any rough edges.

Products and brands

Victorian Children often worked long and gruelling hours in factories and had to carry out some hazhardous jobs. In match factories children were employed to dip matches into a chemical called phosphorous. This phosphorous could cause their teeth to rot and some died from the effect of breathing it into their lungs.

But the story behind the name ‘safety match’ is one of That is important because it is highly toxic and as a result the young women working in the match factories were permanently the case of the match-making industry Sociology of Health and Illness Vol 17 Dr Bruce Rosen Victorian History Blog.

During the 19th century the match manufacturer, Bryant and May, was one of the main employers in Bow in the East End of London. Although playing with matches is, as we all know, dangerous; at that time just making matches could be deadly. Most of the people working in the factory were women, known as match girls.

During its most busy period, the Bryant and May factory employed more than 2, girls and women. In , bad working conditions and the toxic materials used in the manufacturing process forced the match girls to go on one of the best known strikes in London. At this time, matches were made with white phosphorus; this substance formed the match head.


Their first order was for 10 or 15 cases of , matches each case held 50 gross boxes, with a box holding matches. The next order was for 50 cases; and later orders for cases. This partnership was successful, so Francis May and William Bryant decided to merge the partnership with Bryant’s company, Bryant and James, which was based in Plymouth. Dividends of The building, an old candle factory, was demolished and a model factory was built in the mock-Venetian style popular at the time.

The mere chemistry of the match was not the only point that required to be studied ; the manufacture of the splint for the match was in no degree less important ; for.

From the mid 19th century to more than three-quarters of the way through the 20th century t he Bow Quarter was the site of the famous Bryant and May match-making operation. At one point, at the turn of the century, it was London’s largest factory. The seven acre site acquired by William Bryant and Francis May in had previously been used for the manufacture of candles, crinoline and rope, but had fallen into disrepair.

The factory saw many famous historical events: the Match Girls’ Strike of started here, for example, culminating in the establishment of the first British trade union for women. A blue plaque outside the entrance commemorates the role of social pioneer and feminist Annie Besant in leading the demands for better pay and conditions. Some of the first welfare institutions in Britain for industrial workers began on this site.

The factory was only finally closed in , when it still employed people. At its height more than 3, women and girls worked here. Once again the site fell into disrepair, until, in , developers embarked upon one of East London’s first urban renewal projects. The majority of the apartments today are housed in former factory and office buildings.

Arlington, for example, was built as offices in ; Lexington and Manhattan date from the factory site redevelopment in The Victorian cottages near the entrance provided accommodation for the company directors, whilst Staten was built as extra office accommodation in the late ’50s. The Park Buildings were added in the mid s, after development of the factory building had been completed.

The Children Who Built Victorian Britain Part 1

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