Social conditions in the 19th-century port
|Poverty and slum housing|
Many of the jobs created in the port during the 19th century were badly paid. Others were seasonal or casual, which meant that people were only paid when work was available. As a result, the dockers and their families lived in poverty.
The casual nature of much of their work meant that the dockers did not receive a regular income. There was no income at all during periods of unemployment unless they could find alternative work. Sometimes the poor were forced to turn to crime, others begged to make ends meet, while many more ended up in the workhouse.
Sometimes houses were divided in half to accommodate two families. This often meant that one family had to make do without a easily accessible supply of drinking water.
The 1890 Housing Act made it the responsibility of local councils to provide decent accommodation for local people. Things gradually improved, but conditions remained bad well into the 20th century.
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