catching sardines in Earby

The Factory Act of 1847, also known as the Ten Hours Act, restricted the working hours of women and children in British factories to effectively 10 hours per day. Leonard Horner was an Inspector of Factories for Lancashire. In his report of 1850 he recounts the following:

I received an anonymous letter dated ihe 11th of May, stating, that when the Inspector was at the mill [Christopher Bracewell and Brothers at Earby] on the 4th, so soon as Mr. Bracewell saw him he went to the mill, and got those under age and those without certificates, about 20 in number, into the privies; that several of those employed as young persons were children; that the times for meals were considerably less than the time required by law; and that the mill worked from 13 to 14 hours a-day.

I immediately conferred with Mr. Jones as to the steps to be taken, in order to discover how far the allegations contained in this letter were well founded. In a few days Mr. Jones went again to the mill, taking the superintendent of police at Colne along with him. As the mill could then be at work in daylight only, it was not possible for any stranger to approach it without being seen; and, as it afterwards appeared, a watch must have been set to give the necessary alarm in such an event. Mr. Jones directed the constable to go at once to the alleged places of concealment; but he found that none such could be entered from the outside of the mill. He was placed at the door to prevent any one from coming out, while Mr. Jones went through the factory, which is a large weaviug-shed. After having made his first examination, he directed the constable to search the privies, and there were found in them 13 children and young persons, male and female, packed as close together as they could lie one upon another. I need scarcely add that all of them were found to have been illegally employed in the mill.

Source: Factories and Workshops. Annual Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops, 1850, p8

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