This well researched book tells the story of Robert Blincoe, an orphan child, who was despatched along with dozens of others from the Pancras Workhouse in the 1790's to work as a child slave labourer in the cotton mills of Derbyshire and elsewhere in the North of England.
Blincoe was one of the few who survived the appalling cruelty meted out to these unfortunate wretches by the mill owners and overseers whose only thought was to make money. Blincoe, his body distorted through malnourishment and abuse as a child, became the proprietor of a small business in Manchester. He published his 'Memoirs' and became something of a celebrity.
The Author probes deeply into the mind of a society which could allow such barbarism toward workers, particularly children, to take place, and concludes that in the 'feeding frenzy' which characterized the Industrial Revolution, the welfare of workers was of no consequence. The point is made that Dickens wrote about an imaginary character in 'Oliver Twist', and while Oliver had a narrow escape from being a chimney sweep, his noble birth won through in the end. Real orphans, meanwhile, were being tortured and starved to death, with no happy ending for them: even Dickens had his prejudice..
It is hard to believe that the fierce opposition to factory reform, imprisonment of workers for daring to protest, the Peterloo massacre, riots, social unrest, the dreaded workhouse and all manner of abuses took place within memory and folklore of some of our own grandparents!