In Trollope's Barchester Chronicles, Mr Grantley says that the wretched curate Slope, who made everyone's life a misery, came 'from the slums of Marylebone'. No doubt there were other slums in Marylebone besides Lisson Grove, but they must have been famous for an author to expect his readers to recognise their abject level - and therefore to be able to let his character use them as a term of abuse.


 

Housing conditions were paralleled by workshop ones.

Working Conditions in Lisson Grove in 1885

The following article gives some idea of the working conditions endured by young women in those days.

Sweat Shop Conditions
The Mercury Independent June 18th, 1885,
Leading article.

We presume there is such a being as a factory inspector in Marylebone. --- A certain shop in Marylebone, much bepuffed by the Society papers, employs numerous girls who of course are not well paid, and in the Season have to work very long hours. Bad as is the pay, long as are the hours, these girls dare not themselves complain, complaint would bring loss of employment and to most of them any work must be better than none. But on the 7th and 8th inst. things reached a climax. The girls came to work at 7 a.m. and with miserably short intervals for meals, were kept in a close, unhealthy atmosphere till a quarter to twelve at night. Delicate girls were working for something like sixteen hours at a stretch.

Bad as this was, worse was to follow. At 3 a.m. Thursday morning, exactly three and a quarter hours later, work was resumed and continued for seventeen until ten o'clock at night. What amount of rest did those girls get in that three hour interval? Perhaps the publication of these facts will prick the conscience, or more likely affright the pockets of the worthy slave driver who owns the shop. This is by no means his first offence. At Christmas an equally heavy task was given to the girls, but the owner acted with more discretion as he feared someone was on the look out.

It was the children of mothers like these who became the C3 soldiers of the First World War, while their officers, from more prosperous homes, were A1.1


Footnote

  1. See Page 155 ‘Homes for Heroes’.

 

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Updated January 20, 2011