1802 Factory Act

R. W. Cooke-Taylor, the author of The Factory System was also an Inspector of Factories. In his book he explained the 1802 Factory Act.

The first Factory Act ever passed by the British Parliament was called "The Factory Health and Morals Act, 1802" and applied principally, though not exclusively, to apprentices in cotton and woollen mills. The preamble runs as follows:

"Whereas it hath of late become a practice in cotton and woollen mills, and in cotton and woollen factories, to employ a great number of male and female apprentices, and other persons, in the same building, in consequence of which certain regulations are now necessary to preserve the health and morals of such apprentices."

The regulations, briefly stated, were the following:

(1) The master or mistress of the factory must observe the law.

(2) All rooms in a factory are to be lime-washed twice a year and duly ventilated.

(3) Every apprentice is to be supplied with two complete suits of clothing with suitable linen, stockings, hats and shoes.

(4) The hours of work of apprentices are not to exceed twelve a day, nor commence before six in the morning, nor conclude before nine at night.

(5) They are to be instructed every working day during the first four years of apprenticeship in reading, writing and arithmetic.

(6) Male and female apprentices are to be provided with separate sleeping apartments, and not more than two to sleep in one bed.

(7) On Sunday they are to be instructed in the principles of the Christian religion.