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UK History

What was it like to be poor in the Victorian times?


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As I did not live then, I cannot know for certain. But from what I know and have read, it would have been cold, as you would not often have money for heating as it would be spent on food, etc. Secondly it would be dirty as poor people did not always have bathtubs or soap. Also, you would have gone hungry on a regular basis.

A good source for a window into Victorian times is the stories of Charles Dickens. He specialized in the plight of the poor and the powerless, the users and abusers, but always found enough kind and helpful people to make it all work, just as real life does.

One of the things that won't come through even the best writing is the smell within city limits. By Victorian time, the well to do were beginning to get indoor plumbing, but everyone else had to deal with outhouses (yes, even in the city) and chamber pots. Now, believe it or not, I've had to empty a few chamber pots in my day and they are not pleasant, they are not dainty; with no indoor plumbing, they are not emptied after just one use, they're used by the whole family and emptied a couple of times a day. In addition to such odors wafting down the streets, most transportation and trucking was done with the use of horses also going up and down the streets all day, leaving the evidence of their passing behind them. You can be sure that the streets in the better parts of town were kept far cleaner than the less well to do sections.