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Britain 1815-1851 - Living And Working Conditions

As a part of GCSE History students will learn about life in the early part of the 19th Century. One aspect they will look at is the poor living and working conditions of the time.

Life for many in 19th Century Britain was hard. The Industrial Revolution brought enormous challenges: working conditions were often dire (e.g. the prevalence of child labour), and poor living conditions often exposed people to diseases spread by congested housing. Workers' ability to organise themselves in trade unions was also significantly constrained.

Find out more about the poor living and working conditions in 19th century Britain by playing this quiz.

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  1. A second pandemic of which disease, spread by infected water, erupted in Britain from 1831?
    Insanitary conditions, aggravated by poor and dense housing, encouraged the spread of certain diseases
  2. Which businessman and philanthropist set up New Lanark Mills in Scotland, where an efficient business accompanied a regime of welfare for the workforce?
    New Lanark Mills showed that it was possible to run a competitive business operation, while providing housing, medical care and education for the workforce
  3. Between 1832 and 1844 a series of acts regulated the use of child labour. What name was given to these measures?
    Restrictions were placed mainly on the hours that children were expected to work in certain types of employment
  4. Who invented the safety lamp of 1816, which was - at least for a time - useful in enhancing safety in mines?
    Conditions in coal mines were poor: explosions were a regular threat as was poisonous air. The safety lamp seemed to be an important improvement in raising standards of safety and visibility
  5. From 1831 a series of acts of Parliament dealt with those employers who compelled their employees to purchase goods in their own shops using tokens supplied by them. What name was given to these measures?
    Before this legislation was passed employers could compel their workers to make basic purchases in factory outlets, to the profit of the employer
  6. In 1834 a group of Dorset farm labourers was sentenced to transportation for attempting to organise a trade union. By what name were they known?
    Local landowners reacted harshly to the formation of this group and pressed for their transportation to Australia. Eventually the group was able to return to England, to find that they had become heroes of the labour movement
  7. In the early nineteenth century a group of workers began to destroy industrial machinery, arguing that increasing mechanisation would put jobs at risk. What name was given to this group?
    This movement is best seen as a conservative reaction to rapid industrialisation
  8. Which disease, sometimes also referred to as consumption, was common in Britain where dwellings were congested?
    Poor housing conditions clearly provided the conditions for the spread of contagious diseases
  9. A close associate of Karl Marx wrote a comprehensive study in 1844 called "The Condition of the Working Class in England", based on his extensive research in the Manchester area. Who was he?
    This work influenced the young Karl Marx, who believed that working conditions would steadily worsen, leading to the increasing alienation of the industrial working class
  10. The New Poor Law of 1834 discouraged the provision of poor relief to anyone who refused to enter which kind of residential institution?
    These institutions provided extremely basic shelter and care to families, whose members were usually segregated

Author: Edward Towne

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