Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
Brecon and district
Victorian school days
  Finding work at the Hiring Fair  

Drawing by
Rob Davies

In Victorian times (and for many years afterwards) the "Hiring Fair" was a routine way of finding a job. School leavers went to these fairs, held in May and November in most market towns, to meet farmers looking for workers or wealthy estate owners looking for servants. They were also times for people in work to change their employers in the hope of better conditions.
The first Log Book entry below is from Pontfaen School in 1889...

Hiring fair
10th May
School diary entry "Very low average this week 24.4, owing to the Brecon fair, two scholars left school for service, Jane Jones and Elizabeth Pritchard - their mistresses will allow them to come to school on the day of examination".
  These two girls would have been taken on as domestic servants to light fires, scrub floors, wash clothes and do many other unpleasant jobs for very little money. There were no machines to make the work easier in those days, and the girls still had to go back to school to take their exams !
The diary entry below is from Llanfihangel Nant Bran School in 1882, and this time it was jobs for the boys !
"Attendance very poor throughout the week owing to the fairs at Brecon and the farmers being short of servants".
Talachddu School
7th November, 1889
19th May
School diary entry "A still further decrease in the attendance this week owing, no doubt in some measure to the influence of the May Fair - one or more boys having been hired as servants by the farmers".

A similar entry in the Talachddu School diary from 3rd November 1891 reads - "Brecon Hiring Fair. No children came to school, so was obliged to close for the day".
The Hiring Fairs often resulted in children moving to another school when their parents changed to a new live-in job in another district.

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