a webquest


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        Alexandrina Victoria of Hanover was born at Kensington Palace in London on 24th May 1819. She was the only child of  Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. At the time of her birth, her grandfather, George III, was on the throne. Since her father died in 1820, she became  heiress presumptive when her uncle George IV died in 1830. Her childhood was boring and lonely because her mother was very protective. 
On 24th, May 1837 Victoria turned 18, and on 20th, June 1837, William IV died from heart failure at the age of 71 and Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom. Her coronation took place on 28 June 1838, and she became the first monarch to take up residence at Buckingham Palace. 
        Victoria first met her future husband, her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, when she was just seventeen - in 1836 - and she enjoyed his company from the beginning. Albert and Victoria felt mutual affection and the Queen proposed to Albert at Windsor on 15 October 1839. They were married on 10 February 1840, in the Chapel Royal of St. James's Palace, London. Albert became not only the Queen's companion, but an important political advisor. They had nine children.
Victoria and Albert on their wedding day.

Victoria, Albert and their children.

        During Victoria's first pregnancy, in 1840, a young man called Edward Oxford attempted to assassinate the Queen while she was riding in a carriage with Prince Albert in London.Oxford fired twice, but both bullets missed. He was tried for high treason, but was acquitted on the grounds of insanity. Further attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria occurred between May and July 1842. 
       The Prince Consort died of typhoid fever on 14th, December, 1861. His death devastated Victoria, who was still affected by the death of her mother in March of that year. She entered a state of mourning and decided to wear black clothes for the rest of her life. She avoided public appearances, and rarely set foot in London in the following years. Her seclusion earned her the name "Widow of Windsor". 
        In 1887, the British Empire celebrated Victoria's Golden Jubilee which marked the fiftieth anniversary of her accession on 20th, June. On 25th, September 1896, Victoria surpassed George III as the longest-reigning monarch in English, Scottish, and British history. In 1897, her Diamond Jubilee was celebrated. 
        Queen Victoria died from a cerebral haemorrhage on Tuesday 22nd, January 1901 at half past six in the evening. Her death brought an end to the rule of the House of Hanover in the United Kingdom. Her husband belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and her son and heir Edward VII was the first British monarch of this new house. Later, in 1917, her grandson King George V changed the house name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the (currently serving) House of Windsor. Victoria outlived 3 of her 9 children, and 11 of her 42 grandchildren. 

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 Like Elizabethan England, Victorian England saw great expansion of wealth, power and culture. It was a great time for inventors. Click on the pictures to learn more about their inventions.

steam train - rocket



text adapted from

What was life like for Victorian children? 

There were big differences in homes, schools, toys and entertainments. No TV, no computers, no central heating, no cars (until the last few years of Victoria's reign). Many children went to work, not to school. 

The Industrial Revolution changed Britain from a land of small towns, villages and farms into a land of cities, large towns and factories. The population grew from 16 million in 1801 to over 41 million by 1901. Cities grew fast, as people moved from the countryside to work in factories.

Men, women and children worked in factories, and in coal mines. Factory and mine owners became rich, but most factory and mine workers were poor. They were paid low wages, and lived in unhealthy, overcrowded slums.

In Victorian times, many families had 10 or more children. Sadly, many children died as babies, or from diseases such as
smallpox and diphtheria. Child-death struck rich and poor families. 
In a Victorian town, it was easy to tell who was rich and who was poor. Children from richer homes were well fed, wore warm clothes and had shoes on their feet. They did not work, but went to school or had lessons at home. Poor children looked thin and hungry, wore ragged clothes, and some had no shoes. Poor children had to work. They were lucky if they went to school.

Many Victorian children were poor and worked to help their families. Few people thought this strange or cruel. Families got no money unless they worked, and most people thought work was good for children. The
 Industrial Revolution created new jobs, in factories and mines. Many of these jobs were at first done by children, because children were cheap - a child was paid less than adults (just a few pennies for a week's work).

Many children started work at the age of 5, the same age as children start school today. They went to work as soon as they were big enough. 
Children worked on farms, in homes as servants, and in factories or coal mines. Children often did jobs that required small size and nimble fingers. But they also pushed heavy coal trucks along tunnels in coal mines. Boys went to sea, as boy-sailors, and girls went 'into service' as housemaids. Children worked on city streets, selling things such as flowers, matches and ribbons. Crossing boys swept the roads clean of horse-dung and rubbish left by the horses that pulled carts and carriages.

Poor working conditions

Factories were noisy. People had to shout above the rattle and hiss of machinery. They breathed air full of dust, oil and soot. Iron and steel works got so hot that workers dripped with sweat. Flames and sparks lit up the sky darkened by smoke from factory chimneys. Factory owners employed children because they were cheap, did not complain, had nimble fingers and could crawl about under machines.


What jobs did children do?

Some children pushed trucks of coal along mine tunnels. They were called 'putters'.'Trappers' opened and shut wooden doors to let air through the tunnels. A trapper boy sat in the dark, with just a small candle, and no-one to talk to.Some children started work at 2 in the morning and stayed below ground for 18 hours. Children working on the surface, sorting coal, at least saw daylight and breathed fresh air.
Some children worked as chimney sweepers. It was a dirty and dangerous job too.
Small girls worked in mills as 'piecers'. They mended broken threads. 'Scavengers' crawled beneath clattering machines to pick up scraps of cotton. They risked getting caught in the machinery, losing hair or arms. Yet most mill-owners thought factory work was easy. At first, there were no laws to protect working children.


Reform acts

People called reformers, such as Lord Shaftesbury (1801-1885), argued in Parliament for laws to stop child-work. Inspectors, called Commissioners, went into factories and mines. They talked to working children to find out the facts. These are three of the new laws passed by Parliament.

 1841 Mines Act - No child under the age of 10 to work underground in a coal mine.

 1847 Ten Hour Act - No child to work more than 10 hours in a day.

 1874 Factory Act - No child under the age of 10 to be employed in a factory.

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