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What was life like in England in the 1800s?

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Quick Answer

Key aspects of England in the 1800s include the large scale shifting of the population to the cities and towns. Also during this time, the Industrial Revolution led to the increase of factories and machine-made goods.

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Full Answer

When the first census took place in 1801, only about 20 percent of the population lived in towns. This number had gone up to 50 percent by 1851. The large and sudden influx of people into the towns led to appalling housing conditions. Many houses were built literally back-to-back in areas that had only villages earlier. The designated Paving or Improvement Commissioners were allowed to work only in certain parishes and had no control over the new townships and therefore no scope to improve them.

There was no drainage in the streets, and toilets were shared by several houses. Houses consisted of one or two rooms which were overcrowded and without adequate heating or ventilation. The century saw numerous outbreaks of cholera. In the 1840s town councils brought in a measure of regularization and back-to-back buildings, and cellar houses were banned. Due to the Industrial Revolution, by the end of the century, most goods were made by machines in factories.

This created a great demand for a child and female labor force to work up to 12 hours a day or even longer hours. A new law passed in 1819 made it illegal for children below 9 years of age to work in cotton mills and children aged 9 to 13 years could not be made to work more than 12 hours a day. A law created a few years later stipulated that no one below 18 years could be made to work between 8:30 P.M. to 5:30 A.M. The 1800s saw the first passenger railway between Stockton and Darlington opened in 1825 as well as a line between Manchester and Liverpool in 1830. By 1842, Britain had more than 5,000 miles of railways.

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