Successful Ironworkers’ Families

This is some more from Lady Bell’s At the Works, in which she shows not all families were struggling to survive; the lucky few managed to get promoted,higher wages and living conditions:

“Here is a case one cannot pretend is typical, but similar homes are not entirely uncommon. The father is a foreman at the ironworks; he has worked for the same people for 40 years. In the house live also the married daughter and husband and a daughter of 3 years old’ the married daughter and a servant do all the housework. The mother keeps a little shop. There also live in the house 5 sons, who are all employed at the works, and 3 ore daughters, one teaching at a school, and 2 younger. This household seems most prosperous and united, and having so many bread-winners in the family, father, mother, and 8 children, they are all comfortably off.

Another delightful home was one in which a very old woman, a widow, who could not remember how long her husband had been at the works, but ‘a great many years’ she said, lived with her daughter in a house of 4 rooms. The daughter had been a widow, and had 2 families. When they were visited, the younger woman was scrubbing the stairs and making the shine again, and trying to keep an eye at the same time on a very fretful baby, whom the eldest boy, about 13, was holding till the stairs were done. Her husband also worked for the same firm for many years. The hose was as clean and tidy as possible, the 2 women evidently on the best of terns. They said that there was always peace there, and that the husband of the younger one never ‘touched anything’ [?tobacco ?alcohol] for which they could not be sufficiently thankful.The wife seemed to take a a matter of course that she should ‘do for’ her mother and her children as well as for her husband and herself, besides the rather ailing baby almost always in her arms.

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