F is for Factories

The Factories Acts
Introduced sequentially to improve hours and conditions in factories. Charles Patrick’s role was to enforce these.
Factories Act 1833 (3&4 Will. IV c.103)
  • ▪  Children (ages 14–18) must not work more than 12 hours a day with an hour lunch break. Note that this enabled employers to run two 'shifts' of child labour each working day in order to employ their adult male workers for longer.
  • ▪  Children (ages 9–13) must not work more than 8 hours with an hour lunch break.
  • ▪  Children (ages 9–13) must have two hours of education per day.
  • ▪  Outlawed the employment of children under 9 in the textile industry.
  • ▪  Children under 18 must not work at night.
  • ▪  Provided for routine inspections of factories – 4 inspectors appointed

  • Factories Act 1844 (7&8 Vic c. 15)
    Applied to the textile industry and extended the above provisions to women
  • ▪  Children 9–13 years could work for 9 hours a day with a lunch break.
  • ▪  Women and young people now worked the same number of hours. They
    could work for no more than 12 hours a day during the week, including
    one and a half hours for meals, and 9 hours on Sundays.
  • ▪  Factory owners must wash factories with lime every fourteen months.
  • ▪  Ages must be verified by surgeons.
  • ▪  Accidental death must be reported to a surgeon and investigated.
  • ▪  Thorough records must be kept regarding the provisions of the act.
  • ▪  Machinery was to be fenced in.
  • Powers of factory inspectors mid 18th century. 3rd section of the act 7 and 8 Victoria c 15
  • “That every inspector and sub-inspector shall have the power to enter every part of any factory at any time, by day or by night, when any person shall be employed therein; and to enter by day any place which he shall have reason to believe to be a factory, and to enter any school in which children employed in factories are educated, and at all times to take with him into any factory the certifying surgeon of the district hereinafter mentioned, and any constable or other peace officer whom he may need to assist him; and shall have power to examine, either alone or in the presence of any other person, as he shall thing fit, every person whom he shall find in a factory or in such a school, or whom he shall have reason to believe to be or to have been employed in a factory, within two months next preceding the time when he shall require him to be examined, touching any matter within the provisions of this act; and the inspector or sub- inspector may, if he shall see fit, require such person to make and sign a declaration of the truth of the matters respecting which he shall have been or shall be so examined; and every inspector and sub-inspector shall have power to examine the registers, certificates, notices, and other documents kept in pursuance of this act; and every person who shall refuse to be examined as aforesaid, or who shall refuse to sign his name, or affix his mark, to declaration of the truth of the matters respecting which he shall have been examined, or who shall in any manner attempt to conceal, or otherwise prevent any child or other person from appearing before, or being examined by, an inspector or sub- inspector; or who shall prevent, of knowingly delay the administration of an inspector or sub-inspector to any part of a factory or school, or shall prevent an inspector or sub-inspector from examining any register, certificate, notice or other document kept in pursuance of this act, shall be deemed guilty of wilfully obstructing the inspector or sub-inspector in the execution of the powers entrusted to him.”

  • Factories Act 1847 (10&11 Vic c 29)
  • ▪  Applied to textile mills except silk and lace
  • ▪  Women and children under 18 could work a maximum of 63 hours/week
  • ▪  Reduced May 1848 to 58 hours/week
  • ▪  Effectively the working day became limited to 10 hours
  • ▪  Led to the introduction of two 10 hour shifts/day
    Factories Act 1850 (13 & 14 Vict c 54)
    Defined hours of work
  • ▪  Children and Women could only work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the summer
    and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the winter.
  • ▪  All work would end on Saturday at 2 p.m..
  • ▪  The working week was extended from 58 hours to 60 hours.
  • ▪  Hours of work for age 9 to 18 was changed to 10.5 hours night and day
    (reduced to 10 hours/day in 1856)
“The Factory Inspectors’ Reports of the middle decades of the nineteenth century give yearly evidence of wilful evasion of the Factory Laws and of a somewhat unfeeling exploitation of the workforce. The starting before and working after legal hours, the employment of children under age, or without allowing them to attend school at ages when the Factory Act required them to do so, seem to have been common practices which the penalties imposed by the magistrates, who were too often themselves magistrates, were too small to suppress.”1