Many changes took place between 1750 and 1900, including the Industrial Revolution, the developments of vaccinations and the invention of the railways and canals. These all had a great effect on life for the general population. The population in 1750 was only eleven million; four fifths of these people were spread out around the countryside. By 1900, there were forty million people living in towns which was a large increase in people, the number of babies dying was reducing and so was the death rate, it dropped from twenty-eight deaths for every 1000 to just eighteen.
People started to change the countryside into towns and pollution began to clog up the countryside, England became overcrowded in 1900. The Industrial Revolution saw huge changes in the way Britain worked. Between 1750 and 1900 Britain’s economy changed from being agricultural, with people working on the land and in their own homes (domestic system) to being industrial with workers working in factories, mills and mines. Power for machines made some jobs easier and also made some jobs safer. Not many children in 1750 went to school and those that did were boys.
In the whole of England there were only two universities, which women were not allowed to attend. Only the rich were able to afford to pay for their children to go to school, they were also mainly the only people who could read and write. In 1900 school was compulsory for girls and boys from five to twelve so a lot more people began to be able to read and write, and schools were not just for the rich anymore. The number of universities increased to ten but women were still not allowed to attend until 1871 at Cambridge University, this was a big step but they were not allowed the same degrees as men until 1949.
In 1700 people did not know that germs caused disease. There were no anaesthetics or blood transfusions. It was only possible to perform small operations and not many were successful as many people died from infection. In 1885 Louis Pasteur discovered that germs caused diseases, and this led to vaccinations being developed for some diseases like diphtheria. Anaesthetics and antiseptics were developed so bigger operations were able to be done. Also the local councils of towns began to improve water supplies, and made separate water pipes for sewage and water, so altogether the heath of people in towns improved.
Getting around was slow, most people tried to travel by water as this was fastest although it was often around the coast of Britain or through rivers. The first canal, the Bridgewater canal, was completed in 1776, by 1825 many canals had been built, a network of waterways linked together the important industrial areas, like Manchester and Liverpool. Roads were bad, there were many ruts in the roads which no one was prepared to repair, so they were left to get deeper and deeper. Then a group of business men called “Turnpike Trusts” improved the road and then charged people a toll to use it.
During 1750 to 1825 over 20,000 miles of improved surfaced turnpike roads was carried out. The first public railway using steam engines from the beginning was the Stockton and Darlington railway, built in 1825. Thousands of people came to see the ‘steam horse’ on its first journey. A railway that went from Liverpool to Manchester to connect the cities started being built in 1829 and a competition to build a better locomotive as the pervious locomotives cost too much to run was enforced. George Stephenson and his son Robert decided to enter and they won.
In 1833, steam trains started being used by passengers, as well as for goods. A lot of money was put into the railways and thousands of workers, who were known as ‘navvies’, made tunnels, bridges, viaducts, cuttings and embankments. They earned a good wage. By 1873, there were 275,000 people working for railway companies, some as young as fourteen. The railways were popular because they were an easy way to get goods from one place to another. People started to travel more – to football matches, to horse races and to the seaside.
Toy trains and train sets became popular with children, and people became healthier because trains meant that food could be brought to them quicker, which meant it was fresher. Many canal and turnpike trusts went out of business, as the railways were a faster method of travel, but also invented were cars and bicycles, both a success even though cars were only allowed to travel at the maximum of fourteen miles an hour. In 1837 Victoria became queen and the Victorians had a different lifestyle to people at the beginning of 1750. There were more opportunities for men and different social classes.
William Goodwin, who worked at 159 Queen’s Crescent, Kentish Town, said: “Getting up early and waiting behind the shop door with trestles and boards for the police to blow a whistle at 6am as the signal for business to commence. There would be a great rush to set up the stalls. ” A lot of working class peoples lives were dominated by work, they worked hard to get a decent wage. After the Factory Reform Act, the hours people had to work were reduced and children were not allowed to work in mills, also houses were built especially for the workers so they would keep healthy.
Saturday was the busiest time of all for market and shopkeepers. Most people were paid on Saturday night after their long week’s work and wanted to do their shopping as soon as they received their wages. This meant that shops stayed open into early hours of Sunday morning, with shop workers often working longer hours than other working people. Shop keeping was thought of as a man’s job and opportunities for women were limited. Women could be clerks this meant they sat behind the mahogany screen at the rear of the shop and took the payment for customers’ purchases.
They would also do the paperwork for the shop. This freed the manager from these duties and allowed him to be available to customers. Women were also employed as housekeepers and maids, demanding jobs but strictly for women, no man would ever dream of being a housekeeper. In Victorian Britain, young people began full-time work when they left school, aged 11 or 12, whereas in 1750, children had to work as soon as they were old enough as many families needed the money to be able to pay the rent on their squashed, dirty houses and enough money for food.
An entry from a 1775 journal of a young girl lists 26 chores accomplished. “Fixed gown for Prude, mend Mother’s Riding Hood, Spun short thread, Fixed two gowns for Welsh’s girls, Carded tow, Spun linen, Worked on cheese basket, Hatchel’d flax with Hannah, 51 pounds each, Pleated and ironed, Read sermon of Dodridge’s, Spooled apiece, Milked cows, Spun linen-50 knots, Made broom from Guinea wheat straw, Spun thread to whiten, Set a red dye, Had 2 scholars for Mrs. Taylor, Carded 2 pounds of wool Nationally, Spun harness twine, Scoured pewter, Ague in face, Ellen spark’d last night, Went to Mr. Otis’s and made them a swinging visit . . . ” This shows how hard they worked and they were not often paid very much as they were younger, they were paid about a third of a grown man’s pay. Boys led a different life as you can see from this source, “The boy was taught that laziness was the worst form of original sin.
Hence, he must rise early and make himself useful before he went to school, must be diligent there in study, and come promptly home to do “chores” at evening. His whole time out of school must be filled up with some service, such as bringing in fuel for the day, . . . feeding the swine, watering the horses, picking the berries, gathering the vegetables, spooling the yarn. He was expected never to be reluctant and not often tired. ” Boys went to school if they could afford it, while the girls stayed at home and worked around the house, or went out to work.
In parts of the British Empire and the world other major events happened, the French Revolution began in 1789 and a lot of laws and the way the country was run changed, also it played a large part in the becoming of the modern world. In conclusion, I think that life was better in 1900 than in 1750. I think this because the development of a lot of things had happened, for example they discovered germs and bacteria and were able to prevent diseases with simple vaccinations, so the death rate dropped a large amount.
I think that work improved a great deal as health and safety regulations were introduced and people did not have to work such long hours in difficult conditions. It became compulsory for children to go to school so a lot more people could read and write so there were more opportunities for jobs. Transport improved in speed and it was a lot easier to travel around so people started to have holidays. In 1900, in general, people’s working lives were easier, their health improved and they started to have leisure time.