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Richard Oastler – Bradford, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member dtrebilc
N 53° 47.814 W 001° 45.420
30U E 581872 N 5961641
Quick Description: This statue of Richard Oastler honours his campaigning to reduce the working hours of young children in factories.
Location: Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 12/10/2011 10:24:13 AM
Waymark Code: WMD9PH
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 3

Long Description:
During the industrial revolution the mechanisation in the textile industry led to a massive demand for workers to keep the mills working.

Many cities expanded rapidly as workers moved into them from the countryside. The housing tended to be poor and the workers badly paid, often with large families to support. Using children in the factories helped supply labour to the factory owners, but also provided extra income for struggling families.

The children started work at a young age and had to work long hours.

Richard Oastler originally trained as a barrister but after his father died became a steward for an absentee landlord at a large estate in Huddersfield.

In 1830 he met a mill owner called John Wood from Bradford who had misgivings about using child labour in his mill. After talking to him Oastler decided to campaign to improve the working conditions of children. He wrote a letter the Leeds Mercury newspaper comparing the working conditions of children to slavery.

On reading the letter the Member of Parliament John Hobhouse tried to pass an act of parliament to improve a number of conditions including restricting the working time to 12 hours.

Oastler organised workers to form ‘Short Time Committees’ to support Hobhouses proposed act.

However when the act was finally passed it had been watered down and only applied to cotton mills and no mechanism to police it.

In response Oastler started recommending workers should go on strike to demand further reforms. His wealthy employer did not like this, sacked him, called in unpaid debts and had him sent to prison.

Many workers raised money to help Oastler, especially in Bradford and eventually had enough money to free him. He continued in his campaigns and in 1847, Parliament passed an act that stated that children between 13 and 18 and women were not to work for more than ten hours a day and 58 hours a week. However, the 1847 Factory Act only applied to parts of the textile industry. It was not until 1867, six years after the death of Richard Oastler, that the existing Factory Acts applied to all places of manufacturing.

The bronze statue is slightly larger than life size and stands on a 10 feet high polished granite plinth. It is a Grade II English Heritage Listed Building. Standing alongside him on the plinth are 2 children wearing traditional working clothes of the period.

It was sculpted by John Birnie Philip who trained in London and first worked in Augustus Pugin’s wood carving department during the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament.

The statue cost £1500 and was cast from 3 tons of bronze by H. Prince & Co in Southwark, London. There is an inscription on the plinth.
OASTLER
BORN
AT LEEDS
DECEMBER 20 1789
DIED
HARROGATE
AUGUST 22 1861

Details for the description were taken from http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/IRoastler.htm
URL of the statue: Not listed

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B:W:R visited Richard Oastler – Bradford, UK 1/22/2013 B:W:R visited it