Scriven's Report on Child Labour in the pottery industry
Testimony of the Workers (2)



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Testimony of the Workers (2)


[ Mr. Wm. RIDGEWAY ] [ Dimmock's ] [ Mr. HACKWOOD ]



Messrs. RIDGWAY, MORLEY, WEAR, and Co., Iron-Stone China and Earthenware Factory.
No. 93. Thomas Furnival,   aged 58
I have been a potter 51 years, first as a moulder; and have through every department; am now the overlooker or manager of the works. It is my duty to hire and discharge all the hands. We employ now, being low, 348 persons, that is 125 males 69 females, adults; 42 males, 7I female, under 21; 23 boys, 18 girls; under 13.

The premises stand upon about three acres, more or less: and consist of 60 rooms; seven ovens, and five offices, well drained and lighted by candles; there is no engine of any kind except jiggers. 

The people come at six in the summer, and seven in the winter, and leave at six; there is sometimes over-work when orders come in; and they work 'till nine. The plate-makes, saucer-makers, and bowlers take on their boys with the consent of the overlooker, and pay them by the day.

All paid by the master, are paid in hard cash. We sometimes for the people advance sums of money, and let them work it out; we sometimes do that with the men, and let the boys work it out, or girls, but we have no such thing as written contracts with parents for the employment of children. All advances are made for the benefit of the people, and are considered favours. We should not advance money to a drunken character.

We consider the dipping as the most unhealthy process in the department, that indeed is the only one; the scouring is bad, but the women do not continue long in it; they get married and leave. I think potters' children are tolerably healthy; they look white, but that is from the clay, which is not pernicious. We have no boys as painters in the works, the painting is done here by men and women.
I do not know that I have any other information to give.

Mr. JOSEPH CLEMENTSON, High-Street, Shelton (Earthenware)
No. 94. Ann Dishley,  aged 9
I have been a painter 12 months last Martinmas. There are eight little girls work in the same room with me. Mary Worrelow looks after us; we all come to work at six o'clock in the morning, and go home at six, we some go home to dinner; an hour is allowed us for dinner, and half an hour for breakfast.

I can read very well, but can't write; I go to Bethesda Sunday-school, and went two years to day-school; they didn't teach me to write. 

Ann Dishley is very good to us, she never flogs us, or master either; she is my mother. We get holidays, altogether perhaps a month.

Mr. JOSEPH CLEMENTSON, High-Street, Shelton (Earthenware)
No. 95. Charles Perry,   aged 13
I have worked for Mr. Clementson two years, and run moulds for William Trowton all the time. I sometimes wedge clay.

Can't read or write, never been to Sunday-school much; went to day-school for a little while when I was younger, and left to go to work. 

William Trowton pays me 4s. a week; we work regular six days in the week; master has always got work for us to do. I come sometimes at half past five, sometimes at six, and begin to light the fire. William Trowton gives me now and then 3d. more than my wages if I am a good boy; he sometimes scolds if I am a bad boy, he never yet flogged me.

I've got no father, got a mother, her's a painter by trade, but she's getting old. I've got one sister, and four brothers, all working as potters; we all live at home, and keep mother amongst us. I go home to dinner. and get sometimes bacon and potatoes.

I have very good health, and like my trade, sometimes it is too heavy.

Mr. JOSEPH CLEMENTSON, High-Street, Shelton (Earthenware)
No. 96. John Reeve,   aged 15
I have been in the dipping-house four years; there is one man and two boys there (George Burton and self.) I have been suffering a year or two from swelled neck (strumous), and have got a cold now which makes me so hoarse.

We come to work at six, and leave at eight or nine. I get 6s. a week if I work 'till six, and 7s. if I work 'till nine. I have never found any bad effects from dipping, the dipper has, he is often bad in his bowels.

I can read but very little, and can write a little. I go to Sunday-school at the Tabernacle, and went to a day- school two or three years. 

I work by day wage, Joseph Clarke pays me, he is paid by the oven; he is regular in his payments, if he was not master would see me rightly paid; I'd rather be a dipper than jigger.

Mr. JOSEPH CLEMENTSON, High-Street, Shelton (Earthenware)
No. 97. Samuel Broster,   aged 33
I have worked as a potter 20 years; began at dipping, and dipped 2 years; the work did not agree with me, it bound up my bowels; always obliged to take physic. I have seen many bad effects from it in others, very many; it turned their hands and arms. I have known three or four die from it, some young and some old; I call 40 old. Although you are most 40, I don't call you old, but if you had worked at dipping-tub you would have looked old enough. I don't think it so bad as it used to be.

I am the father of two children, and would not let my children work at it, not if ever so well paid. I have worked since then at the oven for 18 years; I do not think that unhealthy work, except when we are drawing it; some people draw it the second day after firing, then it is very bad, from the sulphur from the fire. 

No children work in the ovens, 'tis too heavy.

Mr. JOSEPH CLEMENTSON, High-Street, Shelton (Earthenware)
No. 98. Mr. Joseph Clementson:-
In offering you evidence as to the physical, moral, and religious instruction of children employed in the factories in the district of the Potteries, I am sorry to say that, in the first place, their education is much neglected, - I mean the neglect is due to the parents themselves. There are a number, I should say an abundance, of schools where children are taught to read and write but they would seldom attend but for the exertions of persons connected with religious places of worship.

What is the cause of this disinclination of parents?

Answer: - There is one, and that is the ignorance of the parents themselves, who do not properly appreciate the value of education; another is, the occasional dissipation of fathers who, from habits of drunkenness and improvidence, tax the labour of the child, It is my opinion that children are too often taken early to labour, more especially to some kinds of labour, as in the dipping department, the nature of which is pernicious.

With regard to the children generally, under the oven-men, printers, plate-makers, and others, I am conscientiously of opinion that they exact more from them than they ought, by requiring them to come sometimes at four or five in the morning, and; staying till eight or nine at night, when the trade has been brisk; and which would not, if prevented, interfere with the factor.

It is an admitted fact, that the hours for children are too many. In my answer to the printed queries, I think I have embodied all I have to say.


The premises are second rate, with small unventilated rooms, hot, close, and uncomfortable to work in. They are well drained, but badly provided for conveniences for the sexes, being close together, and much exposed.


Mr. Wm. RIDGEWAY'S Earthenware Factory, Charles-street, Hanley.
No. 99. Ralph Bowyer,    aged 38
I have been a potter 31 years, with the exception of about three years; in the interval I was a publican and licensed victualler.

I have always worked in the dipping department, or in departments connected with it. There are two boys working with me, Samuel Cooper; and Joseph Hill, aged 16 and 11; the first has been at work four years, the other five weeks. 

I have three children, one boy, he is a dresser. I would rather not place him is the same work with me, if I did 'twould be because I could get nothing else for him to do, because I conceive that it shortens their lives.

I have never been much affected myself, except now and then from a state of constipated bowel, and pain, numbness, and stiffness of my wrists; I have not the proper use of them. In holding the rough biscuit-ware between my fingers it denudes them of the skin, and makes them delicate, and even raw at times, when they bleed; I should think that the lead by this means is more rapidly absorbed.

I have known boys suffer very much from this work; I knew two cases of fits and death to have resulted in boys working with me. I think children ought not to work here; the material is bad to work in, and the work is laborious as well. I work by the oven, that is, I have to fill the oven at a given time for so much money; the boys are paid by the oven too.

I look after the boys washing, because I know the consequences of neglect ; I feel I should neglect my duty if I did not.

I do not think we get sufficient pay for the risk we run; we have only 5s. per day.

Mr. Wm. RIDGEWAY'S Earthenware Factory, Charles-street, Hanley.
No. 100. Ann Baker,    aged 19
I have worked three years in these works, first in the biscuit warehouse, then in the dipping- house; my duty is to scrape the uneven dipping off the ware when dry; the occupation is a very unhealthy one. I cannot eat my food as I used to do; it affects my chest very much, makes me cough; I have a tightness on my chest: standing all the day does not hurt me.

Nobody is in the same room with me now there is not sufficient to do, but at times, and when there is regular work, there is one girl to assist me.

I do not read or write; I go at Sunday- school to learn to read, and would go Wednesday nights, but my mother goes then to learn to read, and I stay at home to look after the young children; the youngest is four years; none of them can read or write. They are all, except the youngest, at work in the potteries; one cuts papers, the others turn the wheel for throwers.

Mr. Wm. RIDGEWAY'S Earthenware Factory, Charles-street, Hanley.
No. 101. Hannah Jay,    aged 11
I have been two years a painter, am apprenticed to Mr. Ridgeway for seven years; I can read and write a little. I went to day-school four years, and now go to Sunday-school; but I have not been lately, on account of mother not being able to spare me. I have two brothers, one 13, the other 9; they, have no work to do. 

I get 1s. 6d. a-week, come at six in the morning in summer, and seven in winter, and leave at four or six. We work four days a-week; we have one hour and a half allowed for breakfast and dinner.

Mr. Wm. RIDGEWAY'S Earthenware Factory, Charles-street, Hanley.
No. 110. Sarah Bowers,    aged 13
I am a paper-cutter in the printing-room; have been employed four years; there are five of us in the same room, working with six women and three men; the oldest cutters come at six; I come at seven and go home at eight, sometimes at nine, that is about three times a weeks; on other days I go at six. 

The printers pay the transferers; and they pay me; I get 1s. 6d. a week; I expect my wages will be increased 6d: this week or next

I can read and write a little. I have a father, a blacksmith; he has been out of work now 11 weeks. Mother does nothing but look after the rest of the family. One sister is a potter, and gets 9s, a week as transferer; this, with my 1s. 6d., is all that father has to support eight of us.



No. 111. Mr. John Keeling,    aged 36
I am the overlooker of Messrs. Dimmock's factory; have been thus engaged 11 years. 

We have 87 men above 21, and 47 women; 54 men under 21, and 23 women; and 12 boys under 13, and 13 girls. There are no apprentice girls as painters; there are six as transferers; there are no painter boys.

We pay the people every Saturday night in cash. We are not in full work; upon the average we work five days a-week. They are expected to come in winter at seven in the morning and leave at six; in the summer, from six to six; in a few departments the children come half an hour earlier in the mornings to light fires for the men.

We work them occasionally over-time until nine at night; never beyond; for this the people claim half a day; they generally give over work at one o'clock on Saturdays, and seldom come on Mondays; they like to enjoy themselves; if they worked on these occasions there would be no necessity of their ever working over-time; this would not only be better for children but for parents: the first might go to evening school, and the last might absent themselves from beer-shops.

I do not think the factors could effect this improvement, but the Parliament could. There are many schools, and there would be more erected willingly by the inhabitants, if children would fill them; but parties interested in their welfare are obliged to go from door to door to beseech their attendance. I would also say, that independent of the advantages that would result. to the people from doing away with over-time, the master would also benefit, by saving fires and habits, and his work would be better done.



Mr. HACKWOOD, Earthenware Factory, Shelton.
No. 112. Elisabeth Badley,   aged 45
I have been a painter ever since I was 10 years old; have been a manager of children more than two years; first with Messrs. Green and Richards, at Lane-delph, where I had looked over 25 or thereabouts; have now under my charge only five apprentices; the youngest is 10 years next March, and is my own child. I am a widow, and have four other children. The impression is, that children under 13 are to be taken from work.

I am glad to find the inquiry relates to the better condition of children; there is much room for amendment, and now give my evidence freely. the children under my care go to school on Sunday, and can most of them read; none of them can write; none of them can go to day-schools, because they continue to work till six; and the practice of parents is to send them to bed at seven. Evening schools for factory children would be of little use. If I had the power I would keep my children until 12 at school; but as I have bad health I am obliged to put them early to work.

The department in which I work is separate from all others, and no one interferes with us. I never hear bad language from children; they are well conducted; they come by seven in the winter, and give over at six; never work over-time, I mean apprentices ; other girls and women do if they like; they have occasional holidays. 

The painting work does not affect them; I never hear complaints.

Mr. HACKWOOD, Earthenware Factory, Shelton.
No. 113. Ann Badley,   aged 10
I have been a painter 12 months and more; there are five little girls in the same room with me, and mother looks after us. 

I cannot read or write. I go to Sunday-school, and went a little while to National School, and learnt to sew and knit, and make my own pinaefores. 

I come at seven in the morning, and go home at six, and have got one hour for dinner, half an hour for breakfast. I like painting very well, and shall not like any other kind of work better.

Mr. HACKWOOD, Earthenware Factory, Shelton.
Ther. in Hothouse, 101.
No. 114. Josiah Bevington,  mould-maker.  aged 8
Have been a mould-maker a year. I work for George Stanaway: he gives me 2s. a week; we work very near every day. 

I carry the moulds from the worker to the hot-house and back again. I come about six o'clock, sometimes five, to light fires. Father's a dipper; He got no work to do. I have one sister at work ; she gets 3s. a week, as paper-cutter.

I get meal and water for breakfast, and tatoes for dinner; sometimes a bit of bacon; I don't get enough; I could always eat more if I had it.

I've got no more clothes than what I have on. I can read and write a little; can sign my name. I have been a day-school at "National", and go now to Sunday-school always. I go Monday nights to write.

Mr. HACKWOOD, Earthenware Factory, Shelton.
No. 115. James Till,   aged 43
Have been a dipper 26 years; there are two boys employed in the department with me; they have worked a year with me; they are 15 or 16 years old now.

The liquid used is not bad now as it used to be; there is, however, a great deal of lead used-there was arsenic. It has often affected me, but not to the excess that it has some men. I live very regularly, I keep myself regular, never giving way to intemperance, as some men. I ascribe nothing to myself in this respect, but to a higher source. The way in which it attacks us is first in the bowels and stomach. I take care to take medicine occasionally; I suffer now from some affection of the liver; if it was not induced by dipping; it is certainly aggravated by it:

I have always taken care of young boys who work with me, and keep them clean; I attribute their frequent attacks to a disregard of themselves in this respect. I am a married man, and have a family; some of my boys work in the potteries, but not at dipping; I should not be disposed to put them to that if I could avoid it; but we have not always a command over our circumstances.

I have been connected with the schools in this place as a scholar and a teacher. I think the generality of parents now pay some regard to the education of their children; some shamefully neglect them; they have never had instruction themselves, therefore do not appreciate the value of instruction. I think this state of things may be corrected.

Children are too often taxed by labouring over-time, which could certainly be remedied by the men working regular hours there are some branches in which that irregularity cannot be remedied except by the masters.

One of my boys now work five nights in the week till after nine o'clock in the handling-room, which is shameful.


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