With the creation of the large mechanized cotton mill, Manchester became a leading textile manufacturing center. With the growth of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester’s population and city size exploded. But with the growth of cities like Manchester, problems that had once not been an issue were starting to creep into everyday life. As Manchester grew to over 300,00 people, not only did it bring about wealth, but also led to problems with sanitation, home and family life, and a negligence of the working class.
The first problem brought about by the growth of Manchester was that sanitation had taken a backseat to the cities priorities. Shown on the maps of Manchester in Document 1, within 100 years, much of the city was packed into a once small town in such a short period of time. The workers moving into Manchester faced several problems. One was that the housing they lived in was terrible. They lived in deplorable conditions or small and confined spaces. After Robert Southey, a romantic poet, visited Manchester, he wrote that the city was tightly packed, and the streets crowded with people.
He states that the houses are blackened by the smoke coming out the factories, portraying Manchester as a dirty and polluted city. In document 9, the preface to a business directory for Manchester states that Manchester displays the most attractive features in the world because of its status as “the Workshop of the World”. This document was most likely written as a pamphlet to attract workers to come and work for Wheelan and Co. in Manchester, and therefore had a biased view. The engraving of Manchester depicting the Blackfriar’s bridge in document 11 shows how polluted the city was.
Houses and factories are within close proximity of each other, and it even depicts a building dumping waste into the river. One can also see that smog and pollution is pouring out from the factories, making Manchester an unsanitary place to live. Also brought on by the growth of Manchester was a decline in the value of home and family life. In document 5, Alexis de Tocqueville, a visitor from France, states that a person happily walking the streets of the city could not be found. Tocqueville goes on to say that the city is nothing more than a “filthy sewer.
Since Alexis de Tocqueville is from France, his description of Manchester is valuable insight, because of their unbiased nature. The same document, document 5, says that the civilized man turns back to being savage in this environment, an observation that Tocqueville believes is brought about by the industrialization and expansion of Manchester. In Edwin Chadwick’s Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Laboring Population of Great Britain, or document 6, he tells us that housing problems are affecting a large portion of the population of Manchester.
The document tells us that diseases are caused by rotting animals and vegetables that are dwelling within the overcrowded city. Since Chadwick is a public health reformer, he knows how to clean up a city, and may have had a few reforms up his sleeve. He states that humans become reckless, intemperate, and with habits of sensual gratification from living in the conditions that the industrialization of Manchester has brought upon the working man. Chadwick would probably react to the quality of life that the working class lives in by trying to pass a social reform, one that would improve their lives.
Document 8, a British Medical Journal, shows that people living in the industrial districts of Manchester and Leeds live much shorter lives than those of people living in rural areas of England. The table depicts that whatever the position, people in the rural districts live almost a decade longer than those living in the industrial districts. This just goes to show that as workers were coming into the industrial fields, their lives were being shortened, because of unsanitary conditions, disease, filth and pollution.
The city of Manchester reacted to these living conditions when the “Corn Laws” were imposed on them. Shown in Document 4, Frances Anne Kemble tells about her ordeal with a crowd of hungry workers rising up to the Prime Minister, showing their dirty faces and tired, overworked bodies. This was just one of the many reactions to the living conditions of the working citizen living in the ever expanding city of Manchester. Lastly, the third problem facing those living in Manchester was the neglect that workers faced.
The newly industrialized Manchester forced employers to overwork and expose their workers to harmful and disgusting environments. In document 7, the words of the socialist and women’s rights advocate, Flora Tristan, show that working conditions in factories were disgusting and terrible. The document states that people must endure immensely long hours in rooms with low ceilings, laboring away, all day long. She also tells us about the particles that workers would often inhale while working for hours in the factories.
Tristan says that “the welfare of the workers never entered the builder’s head”. In the excerpt from William Alexander Abram’s journal, document 10, Abram tells how one can see differences of conditions within factories in Manchester. The document tells how successful reforms that were passed and the improvements that were made by them. However, this document is not as reliable as the others because it was written well after most of the other documents had already been written, and by the time this document was written, several reforms had hopefully already taken place.
It also only mentions one reform; the Hours of Labor in Factories Act of 1844, which itself was not a heavy reform, only reducing the amount of working hours to ten per day. Document 5, Journeys to England and Ireland, the author believes what is being created by the new industrial society is pure gold and miracles of humanity. The same document also describes Manchester as “the filthy sewer”, but shows that in order for industry and humans to progress, the conditions in which one must work to attain this progress are going to be appalling and deplorable.
Not only did the Industrial Revolution change humans, it changed the Earth as well. Industrialized city centers, such as Manchester, exploded, due to the need of land for factories and homes to be built on. While this expansion was good for the economy of Manchester, it also caused multiple issues to arise for the working class. As Manchester expanded, issues involving the sanitation of Manchester, the home life of Manchester plummeted, and the neglected working class arose.