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Archive -> 1895-1905 -> ‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 31 Page 88



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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 31 Page 88

Maison Espérance

It was during this time too, that we started our Co-operative workroom for the dressmakers and the tailoresses in the Club.

We never lost the overwhelming sense of the injustice and wickedness of a Social System which drained the workers of youth and vitality to fill the pockets of employers and capitalists and it was the havoc made amongst the young girls that especially filled us with the determination to do something practical to alter the state of things.
One after another we saw the children who formed our Junior Club leave school for the most part healthy, alert, rosy-cheeked, to become in a couple of years anaemic, tired, listless. We knew that two hours in the evening after 10, 12 or seven more hours in the busy season in crowded, hot work-rooms was not enough to counteract the evil effects. We knew that two hours of recreation and rest did not undo the effects of the nerve-strain of working at high pressure for such long hours….

We learned a great deal too, from the fact that we encouraged the girls to come and tell us of infringements of factory and workshop acts, which came under their own notice and armed with these facts we used to write to the Home Office and report them and had many illegalities put right. The girls felt safe in telling us and no one ever lost work through reporting to us as we were most careful never to betray the source of our information. But even the legal conditions of work, and the legal time the girls were allowed to work were enough to inspire a great desire to do something to make things better. And so we opened a workroom and showroom for our girls at first in a small way and later in a larger house in Wigmore Street. The girls were to work eight hours a day and the minimum wage was to be 15s a week. I shall never forget the effect which the shorter hours had on that little group of girls and
the result remains until to-day.


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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 31 Page 88