What was life like for children apprenticed in textile mills? Huge mills were built in the 18th and 19th centuries. To produce cotton and woollen cloth, the mills needed a vast workforce which included children. Children were apprenticed at nine and were given lodgings, food and an hour of schooling a week. Hours were long and the mills were noisy, hot, dusty and dangerous places to work. Medical records reveal that accidents and disease were common.
Students could be given a range of pictures of children at work in a textile factory, stuck onto the centre of a larger piece of paper. The pictures could then be annotated with descriptions of what the images depict. Annotations could include descriptions of what the children are thinking and feeling, and any dangers the students can spot. Students could be provided with a picture of themselves at work in a classroom, which they could stick into their notebooks and annotate in the same way. The pictures and notes could be viewed side by side and with a partner, and students could discuss any similarities and differences.
Alternatively, students could explore extracts from novels depicting working children in Victorian times such as, 'Oliver Twist' or 'Nicholas Nickleby'.