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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Tyler

INDUSTRY & SLUMS: The Victorian Age Part 3

This third in talks about the Victorian Age, delves into an underside of Victorian Life. The underside of the urban factory working class of The North and The Midlands and the slum conditions in which they lived out their lives.

The Industrial Revolution had taken off during the later 18th century but it was its massive expansion during the 19th century that produced in William Booth's phrase 'Darkest England'. Many Victorians led by religion, as in Booth's case, or by conscience, as in Charles Dickens' case, brought attention to the twin problems of factory life and slum living. Others used philanthropy in attempts to ameliorate the lot of the working family, for example Sir Titus Salt's model village for his workers at Saltaire in Yorkshire. But the problem required greater resources and clout than individuals or Societies alone could produce. This led to Governments increasingly intervening, for example with a series of Factory Acts throughout the century.

It would be foolish as well as wrong to say that all the ills of the 19th century Factory System were done away with by the time of the Queen's death in 1901, yet it would be equally wrong to suggest that little progress was made by individuals, Societies, and Governments to tackle the social problems thrown up by the system. Failure to have done so might well have led to Revolution either in that century or in the aftermath of The First World War.

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