Throughout the 19th century, one of the major problems that faced the authorities in London was what they should do with the poor of the various slum districts around the Victorian Capital.
In 1871, a solution seemed to have been arrived at when they began moving them to Lancashire to work in the industrial towns of the county.
The East London Observer, on Saturday the 16th of September 1871, published the following report on the success of the idea, and on what they people of Lancashire thought about it:-
FROM POVERTY IN LONDON TO INDEPENDENCE IN LANCASHIRE
The Barrow, Furness, and North Western Daily Times of Saturday, contains the following observations on the recent immigration from East London into Lancashire:-
“If we can be assured that we shall receive people anxious and willing to work, and not parish dependants whose penury is chronic, our immigrants will receive all the consideration and kindness which they deserve.
Failing this, of course, there is an end to the whole matter.
So far as the idea has been reduced to practice up to the present time, however, the results are most encouraging, and although these have been brought about by private enterprise, and it may not be so easy a matter to ensure the same results in the routine work of such a public body as may eventually take up the question, still there is sufficient to show that success is attainable in a very high degree.
Four families from the poorer districts of London have been brought down to Lancashire, under the auspices of local manufacturers, and set to suitable work.
By means of a proper agent, money was supplied for their fares and the barest necessities, upon their notes of hand which was to be repaid weekly out of the wages they earned.
We need not enter into the detailed working of these cases.
A LONDON SEAMSTRESS
The employers are highly satisfied, and as to the employed, a single instance is sufficient.
One poor woman, who has a family of five children, and who, as a London seamstress, worked fourteen hours a day for four shillings a week, begged to be sent to constant employment which would afford her eight shillings per week.
She and her family now earn by their joint labour thirty shillings weekly.
PROPOSED INFLUX OF OPERATIVES
The other cases are identical with this, and comment is needless on the success of the scheme.
It only remains to be considered how far this district is interested in the proposed influx of operatives, and so far as trade is concerned it is only necessary to consider the vast scope there is in the numerous manufacturing, mining, and agricultural branches of industry for which Lancashire is famous, for the introduction of increased labour.
There may be in some districts room for additional labour, but it is notorious that there are others where progress is at something very like a standstill for the lack of labourers.
AN OVERSTOCKED MARKET?
Busy crowded towns are numerous throughout Lancashire, but these do not by any means constitute the county.
Trade is, no doubt, everywhere flourishing, but it does not exhaust by any means our resources or meet all our wants.
The cry that the labour market is overstocked has not been uncommon, but until we have arrived at a point from which further progress is impossible, that cry of a wanton attempt to cramp every endeavour at making the most of our appliances, our means, and our prospects.
FROM LONDON TO LANCASHIRE
From pauperism in London to independence in Lancashire has not hitherto been an easy transition, but if the plan already initiated receives that support which it deserves, it will soon prove easier for a needy family to make it than to cross the gloomy line which now separates the deserving poor from the thriftless dependants upon parochial relief.