Aireborough Historical Society

1845 Breaches Of The Factories Act Yeadon & Guiseley

Breaches Of The Factories Act
Date August 1845
Location Yeadon & Guiseley
Photo ID

                            "Factory Informations

    The following 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 last.

       Messrs 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.

       Messrs Baldwin, Brown & Co of Yeadon for not having all the tops of their rooms in their mill lime-washed -  £3 and costs.

       Mr James 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.

       Mr Mark Robinson of Guiseley for not having all the main gearing in his mill securely fenced - penalty £5 and costs.

      Mr William 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"

     Additional 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.

Working at home had given them some protection and comfort whereas the mills were unregulated, the prime concern being one of profit for the owners.

     A scandalous 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.

The conditions these children endured, some as young as four years old, were shocking.

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 day.

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 year. 

Initially this legislation applied only to cotton mills but was then also applied to woollen mills .

      Over time 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.

The Factories 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.

     Successive years saw many more laws introduced, Health and Safety at Work is still relevant.

Image courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive, research by Edwy Harling


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