the Victorian period hundreds of different things were made
in Hackney, from bricks to boots and from chocolates to cherry
toothpaste. It was a booming time for business.
The first plastic ever produced in Britain was made in
Hackney in 1862 in Hackney Wick. During the Victorian time
they even made plastic collars, cuffs and shirt fronts in
Hackney. These were worn under a jacket and were very popular!
Two very smelly things were also made around the Hackney
Wick and Homerton area, vinegar and perfume. In Dalston
they made pencils, tents, and glue. In Shoreditch there
were lots of people making clothes and shoes and were thousands
of people who worked with wood, making all sorts of furniture,
even pianos. Many people, especially women, worked from
home making matchboxes, clothes and artificial flowers amongst
Most of the big factories were in Hackney Wick, including
one of the nastiest and one of the nicest places to work.
The nicest place must have been Clarnico’s factory
where they made sweets and chocolates. Most of the staff
were girls and when they got married Clarnico’s gave
them a small gift of money, called a ‘dowry’.
They also gave bonuses to good workers and the factory had
its own band and choir.
One of the nastiest places to work must have been the Berger
Paint factory at Hackney Wick. Here they used a lot of chemicals
and it was very hot and hard work. Many workers claimed
that it made them ill working there.
A lot of people lived close to the factories around Hackney
Wick so they could get to work easily. Six thousand people
lived there in 1879 in cramped housing built on top of rubbish
tips. The river nearby which they used for water was dirty
because it was polluted from all the chemicals the factories
tipped into it. It was the most unhealthy place to live
in Hackney and many people died as a result.
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