Rich and Poor

There have always been rich and poor people in society. Photographs and paintings can often illustrate the difference between the lives of rich and poor people. 

During and after the industrial revolution, many factory owners grew very rich. The industrial revolution began when machines powered by water and steam were invented. The first factories were built to make cloth with machines that worked in this way. Many people moved to cities to work in the factories. They often worked long hours in dangerous conditions for little money, and lived in overcrowded housing, without running water. The lives of the families who worked in factories were very different from the factory owners.

In the past, there were no government run schools. The children of rich families went to private schools. Some children from poor families would have gone to schools run by churches or charities, but many did not go to school at all. Instead, they worked from a young age. As a result many people never learned to read or write. In 1880, a law was introduced that said all children had to go to school between the ages of 5 and 10. The leaving age was later raised to 13 years, before being increased to 16 as it is today.

Today, in Britain, if you are ill, you can see a doctor whether or not you have any money. In the past there was no National Health Service, so people had to pay to see a doctor. This meant that many did not receive any medical treatment when they were ill. Many people died from diseases that they caught as a result of the poor conditions that they lived in.

John and Hugh Harper in Motor Car Foundry Workers in Aberdeen Foundry A Frugal Meal


Look at the picture of John and Hugh Harper in their motor car. What things in the picture tell you that they were rich people? 

Look at the picture called "A Frugal Meal". Try to imagine who the girl was and what her life was like. Write a story about her.

Look at the factory pictures above. What do you think it would have been like to work in factories like these? What do you think would be different for a factory worker today?