Factory workers

This guide was last updated in 2012

Like Una Stubbs, you may have come across an ancestor who worked in a factory. If so, follow Sara Khan's expert guide to delving deeper into their lives...

Una’s episode took her on a journey to learn more about her paternal grandfather, Arthur Stubbs. She never met her grandparents but grew up in the same city as them and was eager to be able to find out more about their lives.

Arthur worked for Rowntree’s Cocoa Works in the early 20th century. Rowntree’s was one of the largest employers in York at that time with a labour force of more than 4,000, including Una’s grandfather, who was there in the early 1900s.

Due to the rapid industrialisation of Great Britain from the 18th century onwards, many of our ancestors would have worked in factories at some point. It may be possible to glean this from a census return or a birth, marriage or death certificate.

If the name of the factory is also provided, the next step is to see if any records survive for that factory and whether they would mention your ancestor. As manufacturing was concentrated mostly in the North of England, it was here that most factories were based.

Photo: TopFoto

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