|the local history of Stoke-on-Trent, England
'When I Was a Child' - autobiography of Charles Shaw
a first hand account of life as a child worker in the North Staffordshire
Potteries in the 1840's
Charles Shaw (b.1832 d.1906) was born in Tunstall and worked in the North Staffordshire Potteries - he started work at about the age of 7.
In 1842, as a result of unemployment the family were forced into the workhouse at Chell for a few weeks until his father found a new job - these few weeks left a lasting impression on the young Charles - the events that Shaw recorded were used by Arnold Bennett in his novel Clayhanger.
His book is a facinating insight into life in the Potteries in the mid 19th Century. Shaw's writings were first printed in 1892/3 and the book was published in 1903, Shaw died in 1906 so the material is out of copyright now.
It is reproduced here with pictures added to illustrate the text and additional notes, related pages for further research.
select from the list below or click 'next' to step through each chapter
Chapter titles show in bold are available - others will be added weekly.
Scriven report on child labour - In 1840 the House of Commons set up a commission to inquire into the state of children employed in the mines and manufactories. Samuel Scriven visited the area of Stoke-on-Trent from December 1840 onwards to collect evidence.
Charles Shaw - the Wikipedia entry