St Helens boy labour 1899

The Liverpool Mercury, July 4th 1899



At St Helens Police Court, yesterday, Messers NUTTALL and Co, glass bottle manufacturers were summoned by Mr ERAUT, Government Inspector of Factories, for employing boys named, Arthur A. ANDERS, William Joseph MC CORMICK, John CARTER and William CARDWELL, contrary to the factories act, Mr ERAUT stated that the boys of 13yrs old might be employed in the glass works in the daytime but not at night. He gave evidence that on visiting the defendants works he found the boys named being employed there. One of the foremen was, “forcibly persuading” a boy of 13 to leave the works, which was really obstructing the inspector, and was a serious offence, upon which a charge would be laid against the firm.

The boy CARDWELL gave evidence that he had been engaged at the works every other week on the night turn.

MC CORMICK said that he had gone to the works with a workman’s supper, and of his own accord he was relieving another boy for a short time.

Mr ERAUT said, that was employment within the act.

Mr DROMGOOLE. J.P, Well every boy or girl who takes supper to these works comes within the act.

Mr ERAUT, but the firm have no business to let them into the works.

Mr E. W. SWIFT [Messers SWIFT and GANNER], who appeared for the defence, said the recent alteration of the Factories Act, which made it illegal to employ boys of less than 14 during the night, was a real hardship on the trade, as it was impossible to get a sufficient number of boys of the requisite age to enable the work to be carried out satisfactorily .

Mr Robert HUNTER, Secretary of the Lancashire Glass Bottle Workers Association and one of the foremen at Messers NUTTALL and Co’s works, said that it was quite impossible to get a sufficient number of boys in St Helens and district. They communicated with various homes in the district, but were not able to get the number of boys they required, and on such occasions the foreman took the responsibility of working boys as near to 14 as they could get. When they could not get sufficient boys the bottle-blowers could not work and through that cause 23 “holes” were recently stopped with the result that there was a loss of 1300 dozen bottles, and the workmen lost over £10 in wages. He would be glad if they could go back to the old conditions. The men were agitating for the appointment of a deputation to interview the Home Secretary upon the subject, and ask for a special permit for the employment of boys under 14 in glass bottle works. It was a fact that there were large numbers of boys who had passed the school standards, running about the streets, half wild, because the Factories Act would not allow them to work

The Magistrate, after consulting in private, imposed a fine of £2 and costs in each of the four cases.

Messers CANNINGTON, SHAW and Co, glass bottle manufacturers were summoned for employing three boys, William FINCH, Joseph GASKELL and Benjamin ATHERTON in the night time and for working the boys the firm summoned their managers, David CHADWICK Snr of 135 Dentons Green Lane, James BROGAN, 34 Brynn St and William BROGAN, New Cross St.

Mr ERAUT gave evidence that when he visited the works on the night of the 25th May he had some difficulty gaining admittance. He afterwards found the boys working there.

Mr SWIFT, for the defence, said, that the three managers, who had been summoned by the firm, admitted they had employed the boys without the consent of the firm and on that account he asked for the charge against the firm to be dismissed.

The Bench, dismissed the summonses against the firm and fined the managers £2 and costs in each of the cases.


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