Charles Aberdeen first started work in a cotton factory when he was sent to one in Hollywell by the Westminster Workhouse when he was twelve years old. Aberdeen was working in a cotton factory in Salford when he was sacked in April, 1832 for signing a petition in favour of factory reform. Aberdeen was fifty-three when he was interviewed by Michael Sadler and his House of Commons Committee on 7th July, 1832.
Question: Does the business of the scavengers demand constant attention, and to be in perpetual motion, and to assume a variety of attitudes, so as to accommodate their business in cleaning the machinery to its motions?
Answer: Yes, to go under the machine, whilst it is going.
Question: Is it dangerous employment.
Answer: Very dangerous when they first come, but they get used to it.
Question: Are the hours shorter or longer at present, than when you were apprentice to a cotton mill?
Answer: Much the same.
Question: Will you inform the committee, whether the labour itself has increased, or other wise?
Answer: The labour has increased more than twofold.
Question: Explain in what way.
Answer: I have done twice the quantity of work that I used to do, for less wages. Machines have been speeded. The exertion of the body is required to follow up the speed of the machine.
Question: Has this increased labour any visible effect upon the appearance of the children.
Answer: It has a remarkable effect. It causes a paleness. A factory child may be known easily from another child that does not work in a factory.
Question: Has it had the effect of shortening their lives?
Question: What grounds have you for thinking so.
Answer: I have seen men and women that have worked in a factory all their lives, like myself, and that they get married; and I have seen the race become diminutive and small; I have myself had seven children, not one of which survived six weeks; my wife is an emaciated person, like myself, a little woman, and she worked during her childhood, younger than myself, in a factory.
Question: What is the common age to which those that have been accustomed from early youth to work in factories survive.
Answer: I have known very few that have exceeded me in age. I think that most of them die under forty.