Child laborers played an important part in developing the country’s economy. They were one of the main sourcesof labor in Victorian England.
Many children worked to help their families. Few people thought this strange or cruel. Families got no money unless they worked, and most people thought work was goodfor them. The Industrial Revolution created new jobs, in factories and mines. Many of these jobs were at 1st done by children, because children were cheaper than adults.
Many children started work atthe age of 5, the same age as children start school today. They went to work as soon as they were big enough. Children worked on farms, in homes as servants, and in factories. Children often did jobsthat required small size and nimble fingers. But they also pushed heavy coal trucks along tunnels in coal mines.
Most of the energy we use today comes in the form of electricity or oil. In Victoriantimes, energy came from water-power, from horses and above all from burning coal. Coal was as important to Victorians as oil is to us today. Steam engines burned coal. Steam engines drove factorymachines, locomotives pulling trains and steamships. All this coal had to be dug from coal mines. Britain had a lot of coal.
Some children started work at 2 in the morning and stayed below ground for18 hours. Children working on the surface, sorting coal, at least saw daylight and breathed fresh air.
Factory owners employed children because they were cheap, did not complain, and could crawlabout under machines. They risked getting caught in the machinery, losing hair or arms. Most mill-owners thought factory work was easy. At first, there were no laws to protect working children....