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How Did The Industrial Revolution Effect The Working Class? History Essay

1349 words - 6 pages

The Industrial Revolution first started in Great Britain during the 18th century. It was a period when the main source of work changed from agriculture to industry, and society from rural to urban. Before the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing usually took place in people’s houses using basic tools and machines. Most people’s lives were difficult, because of their meagre incomes, so people produced their own clothing and food. When the Industrial Revolution started, powered machines, factories and mass production took place. People began to move into cities to get jobs in industry. It also improved transportation, communication and banking. The Industrial Revolution improved the standards of living for most people, but resulted in tragic living and working conditions for the working class.

During the Industrial Revolution, people began migrating to the cities for a better life. For so many people migrating in, the factory owners had to build housing quickly. These houses were called back-to-back houses. Back to back houses were literally built back to back, sharing a rear wall with another house or factory, and most consisted of one room. Often one room housed a whole family and the whole building was shared between 15-20 families. The houses were tightly packed with no plumbing systems. Back then, there was no knowledge of germs, so disease spread rapidly and easily over wide areas. Diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and typhus were very common. Cholera was a threat; because it was caused by contaminated water. Cholera hit Britain in the time about 1830 to 1867, with a tiny break in the middle. Sewage could come into contact with the water, as people mostly used rivers as their source of drinking water, so the disease spread fast. In London, in 1831-1832, about 7000 people died of cholera. The disease was not always fatal when you got it, but it had a 50 percent likelihood of dying. 15000 died of the disease in 1848-49. The disease mostly affected the poorer people (working class) and it did not the upper class as much. Another common disease was tuberculosis (TB), which killed one third of all the people who died in Britain, was caused by poor diet and damp homes. People became less resistant because of their poor diet. Normal middle class people ate three meals a day whereas the working class ate once or sometimes twice a day with only a piece of bread and a bowl of porridge. Another reason is the working class had to work long hours in factories. They could only have a little sleep and continued to work the day after. Air pollution had a major effect on people’s lungs. London became a city with high air pollution concentration. When fog and smoke combine, smog forms. Smog could be deadly; in 1873, 700 Londoners died of smog in a week.

Neighbourhoods were filthy; people often threw their household waste out into the streets. People had to wear long boots to cross the dirty streets full of excrement and dead animal bodies. Sanitation...

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