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Working men's bodiesWork camps in Britain, 1880-1940$
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John Field

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087684

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087684.001.0001

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‘We work amongst the lowest stratum of life’

‘We work amongst the lowest stratum of life’

The early labour colonies

Chapter:
(p.32) 2 ‘We work amongst the lowest stratum of life’
Source:
Working men's bodies
Author(s):

John Field

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719087684.003.0003

Most of the earliest British labour colonies were opened by non-conformist churches. By far the largest was the Salvation Army colony at Hadleigh, which opened in 1891, and others followed in England and Scotland. In the aftermath of the Boer Wars, public opinion was concerned over the prospect of physical deterioration; preoccupations with national efficiency were intensified by the economic crises of the early years of the twentieth century. Following the passage of the Unemployed Workmen Act, a number of local authorities opened labour colonies. All of the early colonies were exclusively for men, and overwhelmingly were seen as a way of relieving unemployment. William Beveridge saw them as complementing labour exchanges and other reformed institutions. However, the municipal labour colony movement lost momentum by the time of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws.

Keywords:   Labour colonies, Unemployment, Poor laws, George Lansbury, Nonconformism, Salvation Army, Social work

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