William Darton's cotton spinning mill, Holborn Hill, London, 1820.
© NMeM / Daily Herald Archive / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving showing children employed in Darton's spinning mill. Child labour was a feature of the Industrial Revolution, with children often made to perform particularly difficult and dangerous tasks, for minimal wages. Textile mills employed large numbers of children, with the hazard of losing fingers in machinery ever-present. Succesive 19th century Acts of Parliament gradually raised the minimum age of child workers and limited the jobs they could be made to do, but it was not until the 1930s that it became illegal to employ children under the age of 13. In 1913, an estimated 30,000 children aged between 12 and 14 were still employed as 'half timers' in textile mills in Yorkshire and Lancashire, attending school in the morning and working in the afternoon.