Round Up 1901
Were we Happy in 1901?

This era saw many physical changes in Stowupland. New industries and compulsory schooling changed many people’s lives but housing was still poor as was the level of healthcare received by the majority of people.

The Same Families with Similar Hardships

In the village many of the same families were still living in a close knit society. Most people still regularly attended church and received solace in their beliefs for the hardships and tragedies that they suffered.

The numbers of children dying before they reached the age of 5 remained high, although not as high as in 1851. Life expectancy remained low at 45 years for men and 49 years for women.

Access to education had improved and each of the children in the village would have had some schooling.

New Communities

Wages had also improved as the new factories and industries grew up on the edges of the parish which attracted workers to the area.

These new communities lived in the terraced streets around the factories. They were not linked by family ties or a shared upbringing but in many ways they were similar to the village community. Celebrations and events were shared and people helped each other both to raise their children and in times of need.

Physical Work

The types of work carried out were similar to that in 1850s, with agriculture and land based industries predominating. It was still a dangerous, dirty business with few regulations and hardly a thought for health and safety.

Were these people unhappy because of their hardships? Did they just see it as everyday life? Can a close-knit society where people know their responsibilities improve the wellbeing of those in it?

A Turning Point

However 1901 does seem to be somewhat of a turning point. The wealthy were beginning to have those things that we now take for granted: electricity, running water, motor cars and electric lights.

The working classes were probably aware of these developments, although in a small rural community such as Stowupland such things would still have been scarce.

So were they happy in 1901?
What do you think?


This exhibition is part of a wider sustainability project delivered through the Rural Museums East Partnership. It is funded by Renaissance East of England.

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