During the 19th century Britain became the world’s first industrial society, and because of the large population boom during the time, it also became the first urban society; by 1851 more than half of the population lived in towns. In 100 years the population increased but a staggering 32 million, from 9 million in 1801 to 41 million in 1901.
As developments in technical and mechanical fields expanded out into farming regions, it meant there was a reduced need for people to work on farms, so many people decided to move into the cities to get a better job and look for suitable accommodation. The cities that they flocked to were not prepared for such an influx of people in such a short period, so these cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool and London needed cheap housing and quick.
How the citizens lived in in the newly industrialised society, the well off would have lived in very comfortable houses, that were well furnished, and for the first time furniture was mass-produced. There houses would have been overcrowded with furniture and ornaments as well as pointless knick-knacks as they were easier to buy now days; but there was only a small minority of people who could actually afford this lifestyle. While the working classes would live in squalor, in Britain the housing for the poor was often horrific, they usually lived in ‘back-to-back’ housing, the back of one house would be joined onto the back of another and there windows were only situated on one side of the house. The house would only have 3 or two rooms. The worst type of homes would be the cellar dwellings, these were one room cellars and they were damp and poorly ventilated. The poorest of the working class would sleep on piles of straw as they could not afford beds.
People who couldn’t afford to look after themselves, such as children, the elderly and the ill would be sent to the workhouse. Life in a workhouse was intended to be harsh for its inhabitants. However in the workhouse there was free medical care and education for children, neither of which was not available for the working class/ poor citizens of England, so until the early 2oth century workhouse inmates were advantaged over the general public as they were given much more help.
However during the indusrialisastion of Britain parliament decided they needed to become less laissez faire and act now. So within time conditions gradually improved, during the 1840′s local councils passed laws banning cellar dwellings, they also banned any new back-to-backs from being built, the old ones were gradually demolished over time and replaced. As the 19th century progressed many more working class people could afford to have a more luxurious lifestyle; they would live in ‘through houses’, ones that were not joined by another house at the back. They would usually have two rooms downstairs and two up. After 1875 most towns finally passed building regulations which stated, among other things, that new houses must be a certain distance apart, rooms must be a certain size and have windows of a certain size. By the end of the 19th century some houses for skilled workers were built with what was the latest luxury, an indoor toilet.