The Brunel Engine House - the Miner's Life Exhibition

Living Conditions - the Poor


Victorian Interior by George Cruikshank 1847 (from 'The Bottle Plate 5 Cold, Misery, and Want, Destroy their youngest child')

The Rotherhithe miners were an elite working class group. So by contemporary standards they were not poor, and were better off than many of the unskilled who made a scanty living by scavenging rags and bones from dust-heaps or vending food-stuffs in the streets. Even though heavy drinking was widespread among labouring men, the miners earned enough to feed and clothe their families, and would not have lived in the wretched conditions of the very poor in common lodging houses. But the men and their families certainly would not have been able to afford luxuries or any of the trappings of 'gentility', and their standard of living would be unbearably low by our standards. Labourers and casual staff would have had a harder time making ends meet. Interiors would have been sparsely decorated and interior decorations in poor repair.

Wives may have earned something selling small goods or food in the street. Children would contribute to the economy of the home by minding their younger siblings whilst their mothers went out, or if they were older, selling goods on the street themselves, or cooking and doing other household chores.





Email the Museum. Page Last Updated on 20 April 2002. Designed by Kevin Flude of Cultural Heritage Resouces