(src-1) - Fishwick, The survey of the manor of Rochdale 1626, p. 113.
(src-2) - The Wills of Rochdale Testators Proved at Chester 1553 to 1810,Vol 2-8, Rochdale Local studies library.
(src-3) - Abstract of Answers and Returns, p.157.1811 Census ,http://www.histpop.org.
(src-4) - Edward Baines, History of the Cotton Manufacture, 1835, p.250.
(src-5) - H.C. 1842   " Report of the Mines Commissioners."
(src-6) - H.C. 1833 (450) " Factory Inquiry Commission."
(src-7) - H.C. 1839 (43) "Factories. A return of the number and names of persons summoned for offences against the Factory Act."
(src-8) - H.C. 1844 (583) "Reports on the inspectors of factories.Close
The mines in the thin mountain-seams in the higher parts of Oldham and Rochdale parishes are, with few exceptions, worked on a very small scale, and in a very rude manner. Several, indeed, are entered by “ breast-eyes,” or day-holes, in the hill-side; and others by ill-constructed pits,with very rude and insecure gearing. Many have insufficient drainage; ways so low that only very little boys can work in them, which they do naked, and often in mud and water, dragging sledge-tubs by the girdle and chain, in a ventilation which proves sufficient only because the deleterious gases are almost unknown.Close
1833 Factory Act. (Lord Ashley’s Act) Applicable to all Textile factories (Silk, linens, Cottons and Woollens
1842 Mines and Collieries Act.
1844 Factory Act.
1847 Factory Act. (Ten hours Act)
Early evidence of the nature and development of Wardle's local economy can be revealed from the occupations of its inhabitants recorded in a number of sources.
An inquisition survey of 1626 records, Alice Wolstenholme as having a lease to,'search, myne, dig drayne for coals within these parcells of Land called Shore'.(src-1)
From the few surviving probate records of will-makers, can be found reference to their occupations..(src-2)
James Roades of Wordel is recorded in 1622 as being a cloythmaker.
Also a number of later eighteenth century testators have their occupations recorded as weavers, colliers, and farmers.
From the responses to three questions asked of householders in the 1811 census further clues can be found as to the main occupations of families.(src-3)
Lieghs Trade directory of 1818 for Wuerdale and Wardle, including Smallbridge, reveals further detail about the occupations of those persons listed.
Trade directories as sources need to be treated with great caution. They were usually private speculative money making ventures which meant they were only going to include those householders who would be of interest to potential purchasers of goods and services. There was naturally a bias towards listing tradesmen, professionals and manufacturers, craftsmen tend to be under-recorded, labourers and servants are rarely listed
Prior to the first Victorian census of 1841 children’s occupations were largely absent from any demographic statistics and it was not until the census of 1851 that a moderately reliable national survey took place.
Youngsters among the workforce at Roads Mill 1914
‘Half-time’ working, as it was known, became a feature of child employment in textile factories ushered in by the provisions of the 1833 and 1844 Factory Acts. The 1851 Census instructions did not advise on how a half-time occupation should be entered. So children, who might be working without the required certification, that proved they had received the requisite number of hours of education, might be hidden, by hard pressed parents, from the authorities by entering them as scholars or by leaving the occupation column blank.
The most numerically important group of children in employment were the 10-14 year olds, mainly girls, working overwhelmingly in the manufacture of textiles.
|grand total all textiles 10-14||57||71||128|
Child piecer and scavenger tending Mule spinning machine.(src-4)
The landscape around Wardle can be found littered with spoil tips from long abandoned mines that are mainly to be found on the hill-sides above Wardle and Watergrove.
The 1842 Commissioner's report on Children in Mines(src-5) might aptly describe the working conditions that Wardle children could have most likely experienced in those mines.More
The image is the section of a thin mine, and shows an air-door tender in the act of opening an air-door to allow a waggon to pass through. Sitting on his heels, as is the universal custom of all colliers, young and old, in the district. This employment is the one to which children are generally put on first entering the mines.
The 1851 Census recorded that 40 Wardle children had occupations listed as either,Coal Miners, Colliers or Coal Labourers.
Out of the 40 children, eight were under the age of 10 and prohibited, by the 1842 Act, of working underground.
Seemingly the Act was not always scrupulously observed by some mine owners and parents, as was illustrated in a case reported by:
Frequent early 19c commentators compared the hardships of factory children with those of plantation slaves a similarity that pressure groups used to promote factory reform. A Royal Commission was set up in 1833(src-6) to " collect Information in the Manufacturing Districts, as to the Employment of Children in Factories, and as to the Propriety and Means of Curtailing the Hours of their Labour:"
The subsequent Factory Act of 1833 and later Acts introduced legislation More to limit the working hours of children and consolidated earlier legislation to ensure that factory children received daily schooling.
Leonard Horner, the Inspector for the North West, brought Wardle Mill owners and Parents before the Magistrates, in 1838(src-7) and 1844(src-8), for offences against the Factory Acts.