A YOUNG MAN WITH AN IDEAL
The lean years of the first half of the 1 and industrial strife. It was a period of by unemployment. When work was available the price of commodities high in the 'Hun were almost non-existent. Such conditions led to the Chartist Riots, industrial str days for workers in industry. Hardship an destiny of a dispirited people.
9th Century produced much social
depression in industry followed it was hard, wages were low and gry Forties'. Social amenities
created discontent which later ife, and strikes. They were harsh d frustration seemed to be the
Yet history reminds us that in such times born, and visions of better times inspire schemes and plans for social amelioration
and circumstances ideals are d men and women to press forward , better conditions in industry,
and a culture that sheds light on social, moral responsibilities in all spheres of the community.
Towards the middle of the 19th Century these inner strivings and aspirations found an expression in benevolent legislation and the founding of various national organisations whose aims and objectives were directed towards the eradication of some of the demoralizing effects of debasing and deplorable social and industrial practices which had scarred the lives of children and adults.
Lord Shaftsbury laboured for many years, in and out of Parliament, to curb the exploitation of children in industry. Boys and girls of the age of six, and in some cases younger, were employed in our land to do brutalising work in the coal mines, or worked for unreasonable hours in factories. After many years of endeavour, the Mines Act introduced by Lord Shaftsbury in 1842, made it illegal for boys under the age of ten to be employed in coal mines, and female labour, both girls and women, was prohibited in the mines.
Benevolent Institutions founded about this time included Dr. Barnado's Homes (1866), the Ragged Schools Union (1843) (to provide education for underprivileged boys), the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (1884),and the Young Men's Christian Association (1844). Florence Nightingale strove for a new orientation of Hospital Service in the mid-century years. British and National Schools, founded in 1810, were the first recipients of Government grants in 1833 (£1O,OOO for each organisation). This eventually led to state education (The Education Act of 1870) whereby it became a legal obligation for parents to ensure their children, over the age of five, were provided with a suitable standard of education -in a state school if necessary.
The above mentioned, and other organisations, prepared the way for social amenities, industrial emancipation and facilities for culture and education for the hard core of the people of this country.
Whatever weaknesses critics saw in the activities of these Voluntary Societies, today the essential elements of their services are available where and when needed.
It was early in this period, (June, 1836) that a young man, George Williams of Dulverton, Somerset, was driven in his father's trap to Bridgwater. The trap drew up outside a drapery establishment and that was the beginning of a two year apprenticeship for George. His parents were farmers but they had agreed the boy would never make a farmer. Little is known of the life of