Following the Industrial Revolution almost a century earlier, the use of child labour reached it’s peak in the Victorian Era. Children as young as four worked up to 80 hours a week, in all kinds of dangerous and difficult jobs.
The photos (except one) were taken between 1860 and 1890.
Young boys were especially valued down coal mines. They were small enough to crawl through the narowest tunnels, those where the adults were too big to enter.
The smallest boys without the strength to pull a cart or wield a pick were employed sorting coal at the surface. They received around 20% of an adult wage, for the same work.
With every house still using coal fires, slim boys were prized as chimney sweeps. They could actually climb inside the chimneys, to ensure a thorough clean.
This reality was a long way from ‘Mary Poppins’.
(The photo is a recent one, to show what it would have been like)
Something to remember, the next time your kids complain about having to tidy their room.