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Image Number: 3006866
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TitleThe Curse of the Factory System
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CreatorFielden, John
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DescriptionFull title: "The Curse of the Factory System, or, A short account of the origin of factory cruelties; of the attempts to protect the children by law; of their present sufferings; our duty towards them; injustice of Mr. Thomson's Bill; the folly of the political economists; a warning against sending the children of the South into the factories of the North."

One of the great social reformers, "Honest John Fielden" was born in Todmorden in 1784, one of five sons of Joshua Fielden, owner of a modest local textile business for which the young John worked long and hard hours, something which shaped his later thinking. Though the son of a Tory and raised a Quaker, John became one of the most important Radical MPs of his day.

Fielden was a man of great integrity, a successful mill owner who demonstrated that it was possible to run a profitable textile business yet provide decent wages, working conditions and hours for his employees - indeed by 1832, Fielden Brothers had grown to become one of the largest textile businesses in Britain. Charles Wing, author of "Evils of the Factory System" noted of the working conditions at Fielden's cotton mill: "...the labour is sixty-seven hours and a half a week, being an hour and a half less than most others. No children were employed under nine. A school is attached to the mill. If the liberal management of Mr. Fielden's mill were generally adopted, there would be few evils to complain of."

In 1831 Fielden was selected with William Cobbett - his rural counterpart - as a Radical Candidate for Oldham, and both were elected to Parliament, becoming leading voices of the radical movement. More than anyone else, he pushed through Ashley's Ten Hour Bill in 1847, a movement that the "Curse of the Factory System" gave great impetus to.
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Date Created1836
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Manufacturer/PublisherA. Cobbett
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Holding OrganisationManchester Public Libraries
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Accession NumberP2187
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Associated Objects
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