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Lord Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury headed the royal commission of inquiry which investigated the conditions of workers especially children in the coal mines in 1840. Commissioners visited collieries and mining communities gathering information sometimes against the mine owners' wishes. The report, illustrated by engraved illustrations and the personal accounts of mineworkers was published in May 1842. Victorian society was shocked to discover that children, as young as five or six worked as trappers, opening and shutting ventilation doors down the mine before becoming hurriers, pushing coal tubs. Shaftesbury deliberately appealed to Victorian prudery, focussing on girls and women wearing trousers and working bare breasted in the presence of boys and men which "made girls unsuitable for marriage and unfit to be mothers". The Mines and Collieries Act 1842 prohibited all females and boys under ten years old from working underground in coal mines. [Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mines_and_Collieries_Act_1842]

 

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