Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
         
Llanfyllin and district
The Union Workhouse
 
  The tailor's apprentice  
Drawing by
Rob Davies

The Board of Guardians were keen on sending children off to become apprentices at a very young age because it meant fewer mouths to feed in the workhouse.
But it often meant that the children had a very bad start to their working lives, because some tradesmen used their apprentices almost like slave labour. Many children were beaten, given very little food, and had very bad working conditions.
In some cases they didn't even learn a trade. The entries shown on this page are taken from the Llanfyllin Union Workhouse records for 1873...

Cruelty to an apprentice
31st July
1873
Minute book entry
14th August
1873
Minute book entry
 

31st July - "Resolved that the Clerk do write to Mr John Davies of Glascwm Meifod, Tailor, requesting his attendance at the next Board to answer certain charges of cruelty to John Evan Davies his Apprentice and not teaching him the trade of a tailor".
14th August - "John Davies of Meifod, Tailor, attended the Board to answer the complaints made against him for cruelty to his apprentice and denied the charges".

So the tailor from Meifod told the members of the Board of Guardians that he had not been ill-treating his young apprentice and that he was training him in the skills of his trade. The official Minute Book does not tell us any more about the complaint after this, but since the members of the Board were mostly on the side of the ratepayers they probably accepted the tailor's story and did no more about it !
There were other problems with some tradesmen who took on young apprentices from the workhouse. See the next page...

Money for apprentices ?...

 

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