Another very interesting read, thank you. Annie Besant certainly had the habit of getting mixed up in other people’s battles. I didn’t know about this one though! She certainly led a busy and eventful life, and by all accounts was a remarkable public speaker. I must confess, though, that outside of the matchgirl strike I don’t have too much knowledge about her, but the glimpses I have had have shed light on the kind of life people rarely lead these days. Thankyou for your brilliant site! If the girl was lucky and could afford the bill it did, if not, the outcome was brain damage and organ failure, which lead to a slow and painful death. What a different country we live in now with our often maligned, but hugely important health and safety laws! Monday, 4 October Matchgirls Strike. With London travellers today being dogged by the 24hr tube strike, I thought we would look at a strike that occurred years ago in London, namely, the matchgirls strike of
Products and brands
Conditions were appalling for the 1, women and girls who worked at Bryant and May’s match factory in Bow, east London. Low pay for a hour day was cut even more if you talked or went to the toilet, and ‘phossy jaw’ – a horrible bone cancer caused by the cheap type of phosphorus in the matches – was common. The management was furious, but the workers refused to deny the truth of the report. When one of the workers was then fired, an immediate full-scale strike among the match girls was sparked.
Public sympathy and support was enormous, surprising the management: it was an early example of what we now call a PR disaster. A few weeks later, they caved in and improved pay and conditions.
The jaw would soon start to give off smelly pus, and eventually the girl would die from the cancer. Match girls worked long hours in the factories (usually from 6 AM.
In April , the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed a halfpenny tax per box on the sale of matches. This lead to massive protests by match workers, supported by their employer for once as there were fears this would drive down the sale of matches and lead to redundancies. Due to come into effect in May , it required that every box of matches sold to have a tax-paid seal on the lid so that it had to be torn to open the box.
The bill also banned the sale of individual matches, which was often a way for the very poor to buy them. The tax was probably seen as a good idea by the government as it would be levied on the manufacturer, which was easy to apply, but it struck a chord with people who saw this as an inequitable tax on the poor, not just consumers, but also the match girls who made the matches. The reported numbers of the protest that took place on the Monday vary from 3, to 10,, but whatever the numbers were, it was a huge protest for the time, being made mostly of girls and women who assembled in Victoria Park and marched all the way to the Houses of Parliament.
The police set up a number of barricades to stop the march, to no avail as they were too few in number to hold back the surging crowds. Attempts to break up the march as it got to Charing Cross were moderately successful but several thousand made it to Westminster, and around a hundred were even able to break into Parliament and protest in Westminster Hall.
Such was the size of the protests that the Chancellor, Robert Lowe had to get to Parliament by sneaking out of Downing Street via the back entrance, catching a tube train from St James to Westminster then taking the subway to Parliament. So great was the publicity around the tax, and the protest, that it was decided to commemorate the event in some means. Just around the corner from the factory was a newly built railway station, Bow station, which had opened in , and the impressive community hall above the station added in Two years later, in October , a Testimonial Fountain was installed in a space left open for it.
The choice of drinking fountain was partly down to the fashion of the time, but also as Mr Bryant was a staunch teetotaler. Designed by Rowland Plumbe in the popular early gothic style, it had three drinking fountains, and above them a marble statue of Justice sitting on a throne.
Matchsticks Once Sickened and Deformed Women and Children
Victorian Children often worked long and gruelling hours in factories and had to carry out some hazhardous jobs. In match factories children were employed to dip matches into a chemical called phosphorous. This phosphorous could cause their teeth to rot and some died from the effect of breathing it into their lungs.
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Swedish matches have been synonymous with quality for over years and the text “made in Sweden” has been seen on a lot of different match brands through the years. The Solstickefonden the Solstickan Fund was established in to help children and the elderly. Some of the proceeds from the Solstickan brand are still donated to the Solstickan Fund. Sampo is the leading brand of matches in Finland and dates back to The name comes from the epic Finnish poem Kalevala, in which Sampo is a magic mill that produces flour, salt and gold.
The brand was re-designed in
Little Match Girl Jane worked as a match girl in her youth. Women workers at a German matchmaking factory, Phossy Jaw, Ripper Street, German Women.
Catherine Best does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. But these were the women who worked 14 hours a day in the East End of London and who were exposed to deadly phosphorous vapours on a daily basis. The effect literally causing the jaw bone to rot. Doctors soon began treating these women for the disease — which would often spread to the brain leading to a particularly painful and horrific death, unless the jaw was removed.
And even then a prolonged life was not guaranteed. But even though the risks were obvious, this was the Industrial Revolution — before employers were legally required to create safe working conditions. This meant that women on low wages continued to work long hours, while exposed to the toxic impact of white phosphorous and the devastating consequences this would have on their health. Many of these women were working at Bryant and May which is unrelated to the current Bryant and May, which also makes matches and were Irish immigrants.
They lived in abject poverty, in filthy housing unfit for human habitation and were often subject to prolonged hours of backbreaking work making matches. But despite the incessant exploitation, the low pay and excessive fines issued simply for being late, dropping a match or talking to others, the workers were forced to continue to work in these oppressive conditions.
The demolished Bryant & May Testimonial fountain
From the mid 19th century to more than three-quarters of the way through the 20th century t he Bow Quarter was the site of the famous Bryant and May match-making operation. At one point, at the turn of the century, it was London’s largest factory. The seven acre site acquired by William Bryant and Francis May in had previously been used for the manufacture of candles, crinoline and rope, but had fallen into disrepair.
The factory saw many famous historical events: the Match Girls’ Strike of started here, for example, culminating in the establishment of the first British trade union for women.
“The trade of making match-boxes at home is, I trust, a dying one; but as, The women fetch out from the factory, or the middle-woman’s, strips.
The halfpenny weekly carried on its front page a quotation from Victor Hugo : “I will speak for the dumb. I will speak of the small to the great and the feeble to the strong I will speak for all the despairing silent ones. She discovered that the women worked fourteen hours a day for a wage of less than five shillings a week. Offences included talking, dropping matches or going to the toilet without permission. The women worked from 6.
If workers were late, they were fined a half-day’s pay. Annie Besant also discovered that the health of the women had been severely affected by the phosphorus that they used to make the matches. This caused yellowing of the skin and hair loss and phossy jaw, a form of bone cancer. The whole side of the face turned green and then black, discharging foul-smelling pus and finally death.
Bryant & May
We use a lot of matches in Australia : on an average of 10 matches per person, per month. This is done by feeding the logs through powerful rotating teeth that work like an enormous cheese grater, scraping off the bark at a great speed. The barkless logs are then sawn into manageable 60 cm in length, called billets.
Women working in a match factory in London in was a mass demonstration in Victoria Park attended by up to 10, match-makers.
What did Victorian matchmakers do? Would you Will haloodst have a matchmaking? An idiosyncratic selection of short bits about elements of Victorian history. Bryant, May and the Match Girls In matchmaking factories. Former Bryant and May match factory, now loft apartments. See more ideas about East london, Victorian london and Old london. Florence 1, women and girls who worked at Bryant and May’s match factory in scale strike among the match girls was. Ceramics in StokeonTrent 19th Century.
Listen to an audio clip about a Victorian street child who makes a living collecting rats for ratbaiting Bryant and May Matchmakers. Bow, and it investigated all 30 of the London match making firms in An idiosyncratic selection of short bits about elements of Victorian history among the most noteworthy of which was matchmaking. Women worked in factories, Most working class women in Victorian Explain how womens occupations during the second half of the 19th and early 20th century.
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Victorian match making factories
Papers of Gilbert Bartholomew, managing director of Bryant and May , concerning sale figures, shipment of goods, Arthur Bryant’s visit to Australia and general business matters. Recipients of the letters include H. Nathan, J. Hoffnung, H. Hayman and James Service.
The matchgirls’ strike of was an industrial action by the women and teenage girls working In there were 4, people working in 25 match-making factories in Britain, 2, of whom were adults, The day after a mass-meeting at Victoria Park, London, up to 10, matchmakers— mostly girls and women.
Their first order was for 10 or 15 cases of , matches each case held 50 gross boxes, with a box holding matches. The next order was for 50 cases; and later orders for cases. This partnership was successful, so Francis May and William Bryant decided to merge the partnership with Bryant’s company, Bryant and James, which was based in Plymouth.
Dividends of The building, an old candle factory, was demolished and a model factory was built in the mock-Venetian style popular at the time. The factory was heavily mechanised and included twenty-five steam engines to power the machinery. On nearby Bow Common , the company built a lumber mill to make splints from imported Canadian pine. If a worker complained of having toothache, they were told to have the teeth removed immediately or be sacked.
The women and girls involved in boxing up the matches, they had to pay the boys who brought them the frames from the drying ovens, and had to supply their own glue and brushes. The match boxes were made through domestic outwork under a sweating system.