The romantic glow of the Hartlepool's Wagga Moon only serves to shed a light on the harshness of living and working conditions in most metal manufacturing districts. Nineteenth-century civic pride ensured that many of these places had fine public buildings and facilities such as parks, but the bottom line was that these were Britain's 'dirty old towns': smoke and slag were the order of the day.
The work was hard and dangerous as recent excavations in Sheffield showed. Trade Unions had to fight long and hard for legislation guaranteeing adequate health, safety and compensation. Although these towns and cities provided work and people were keen to move there, history shows that their rapid growth led to the worst form of urban living. In Sheffield this was not helped by a massive flood in 1864 where a dam burst, causing massive damage. Shoddy working class housing went up quickly which added to already poor conditions. As late as the 1930s, George Orwell observed of the city, 'It has a population of half a million and it contains fewer decent
DORMAN LONG SHARE CAPITAL: Many of the archives in metal manufacturing areas keep the records of local companies MARRIAGE: Workers in an iron town were simply labelled 'labourers' - a research challenge!
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