Who were the Victorians?
The Victorian age in British history is named after Queen Victoria, who was Britain's queen from 1837 until 1901.
What was life like for Victorian children? There were big differences in homes, schools, toys and entertainments. No TV, no computers, no central heating, no cars (until the last few years of Victoria's reign). No air travel - unless you went up in a balloon! Many children went to work, not to school. Welcome to the Victorian world. It's time to find out how children (your great-great-great-grandparents perhaps!) lived more than a hundred years ago.
The British Empire
Britain ruled the British Empire. Victoria was Empress of India as well as Queen of Britain, Canada (the biggest country in the Empire) and small countries such as Jamaica. Trade with the Empire helped make Britain rich. Some British children emigrated with their families to new homes in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada. Children were taught about the Empire in school.
In Victorian classrooms, children could easily find the countries of the Empire on a map because they were coloured pink or red.
The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution changed Britain from a land of small towns, villages and farms into a land of cities, large towns and factories. The population grew from 16 million in 1801 to over 41 million by 1901. Cities grew fast, as people moved from the countryside to work in factories.
Men, women and children worked in factories, and in coal mines. Factory and mine owners became rich, but most factory and mine workers were poor. They were paid low wages, and lived in unhealthy, overcrowded slums.