Aireborough Historical Society

1830 Richard Oastler

Richard Oastler
Date 16th October 1830

Photo ID

Compiled by Carlo Harrison from documents held in the AHS Archive Room, Yeadon Town Hall


On October 16th, 1830, the "Leeds Mercury" published one of the most famous letters of all times.
It was written by Richard Oastler a land steward of Huddersfield & Calverley, & the subject was the condition of children working in Yorkshire factories.
The letter started one of the greatest agitations of British history. Oastler wrote with horror of "those magazines of British infantile slavery, the worsted mills of the town & neighbourhood of Bradford." Children aged seven & sometimes younger were working thirteen or more hours per day, for a few pence wages, he stated.
Inside the factories they were often cruelly treated & accidents & illnesses were a normal part of industrial life.
His exposure of the horrors of the factory system led to bitter controversy & to a huge movement for factory reform & for an Act to limit working hours to ten a day.
Oastler who became known as the "Factory King" was leader of the agitation & gathered round himself a force of clergymen, politicians & workmen.


Richard Oastler is buried at Kirkstall St Stephen's Church and there was a plaque on the church itself to mark it. I'm not sure what condition it is currently in as I haven't seen it for a few years and it was in a poor state of repair. There's a photograph on for anyone wanting to go find it who wants an idea of what to look for.
21 July 2016
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