Illustrations from the Report of the Children's Employment Commission. The top image shows a female in a low, narrow tunnel, leaning forward dragging a trolley full of coal, attached to a wide belt around her her hips. The image below shows a small boy, with a belt around his waist, walking backwards along a low tunnel, also pulling a trolley filled with coal. Child labour was a feature of the Industrial Revolution, with children often made to perform particularly difficult and dangerous tasks, for minimal wages. Successive 19th century Acts of Parliament gradually raised the minimum age of child workers and limited the jobs they could be made to do. The Mines Act of 1842 prohibited the employment of women, girls and boys younger than 13 in British mines.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library