convictions for breaches of the Factories Acts took place before the West
Riding Magistrates at the courthouse in
Leeds, on the information of Mr Baker, sub-inspector of factories on Tuesday
Dennison, Teale & Co of Yeadon for employing a child in their mill in the
morning and afternoon of the same day -
penalty £1 and costs.
Baldwin, Brown & Co of Yeadon for not having all the tops of their rooms in
their mill lime-washed - £3 and costs.
Hudson of Guiseley for employing in the mill of Mark Robinson of Guiseley, a
child in the morning and afternoon of the same day - £1 and costs.
Robinson of Guiseley for not having all the main gearing in his mill securely
fenced - penalty £5 and costs.
Slater employing in the mill of Messrs Dennison, Teale & Co of Yeadon, a
child under the age of 13 years in the morning and afternoon of the same day -
£1 and costs"
text by Christine Lovedale
The onset of the
Industrial Revolution brought drastic changes to society, the move from the
manufacture of woollen cloth in a domestic environment to the new mills caused
many moral and practical problems.
The working conditions in the mills were initially dirty
and dangerous, the hours long with scant consideration given to the welfare of
the workforce particularly in regard to women and young children.
home had given them some protection and comfort whereas the mills were
unregulated, the prime concern being one of profit for the owners.
aspect of mill life was the employment of pauper apprentices, young children
who were orphaned or in dire circumstances and dependant upon the Parish for
their welfare were apprenticed to mill owners, often a considerable distance
from their homes thus relieving the Parish of responsibility for them.
conditions these children endured, some as young as four years old, were
Poorly fed, clad in rags and working interminably long
hours their situation was intolerable.
In 1802 Prime
Minister Robert Peel introduced the Pauper Apprentices Act to alleviate the
situation in which young people were kept.
They were to be given 2 new sets of
clothes each year, no working at night, and not to work more than 12 hours a
For the first 4 years of apprenticeship they were to be educated in
reading, writing and arithmetic and to attend church regularly.
Rooms in which
they lived and worked were to be treated with quick lime and water twice a
Initially this legislation applied
only to cotton mills but was then also applied to woollen mills .
many amendments and new acts were brought in, 1833 being a significant year :
no children under 9 were to be employed, children aged between 9 and 13 were to
only work 8 hours daily with 2 hours taken out for education. Those aged 14-18
worked a maximum of 12 hours with suitable breaks for meals.
This was also
applied to women.
It had been
realised how dangerous it was to expect children to work near moving machinery
so 1844 saw the introduction of an Act which stated that all moving machinery
must be fenced and that no cleaning of machinery or parts to take place when
the machinery was in motion, this applied to women and children.
Inspectors were appointed to ensure that no breaches of the Acts took place,
hence the prosecutions of local mill owners when they were at fault.
years saw many more laws introduced, Health and Safety at Work is still
Image courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive, research by Edwy Harling