Article on Child and Female Labour, 1843

Just as Dickens had worked in a blacking factory from the age of 12, many families living in poverty were forced to send their children to work. Numerous industries relied on the cheap labour carried out by children, including iron and coal mining, textile, match or nail manufacturing, chimney sweeping, domestic service and construction. Children often worked 16 hour days under atrocious conditions. Following widespread protests from social campaigners, new legislation in 1833 recommended limiting the number of hours to which children were permitted to work in the textile industry; children under 9 were no longer permitted to work at all (children as young as 3 had been put to work previously). By 1850, after further protests, women, children and young people could work 'only' ten hours in a day, and 'only' between 6 am and 6 pm, so night work was now forbidden in factories, and from 1860, boys under twelve could not be employed in coal-mines.