The report on mines in 1842 revealed how girls of six spent their whole day in the day attending to ventilation doors. Young boys and girls – along with women- dragged loads of coal along the floors. In some pits girls worked in passages 26 inches high – while some adult women worked in passages no more than 30 inches high.
Very often when the women arrived home they were too tired to do more than sink into a chair. Fatigue was a major factor in the lives of women. Girls were brought up in unspeakable conditions. The overseers had licence to punish mercilessly. Children who tried to run away were shackled by irons linked their ankles – and they were still expected to work.
Britain has come a long way over the past one hundred and fifty years. It is very likely that some of the children described above must have had to ability to pass the eleven plus – had they had the opportunity.
Our eleven plus children are incredibly lucky to have the education, the families, the schools and the social conditions that exist today. Some of our present families may have survived those conditions to live in solid middle class surroundings.
It would be very sad to think of one of today’s bright eleven plus children complaining that they are too tired to do some eleven plus work. .