Catalogue description Home Office: Factory and Mines Entry Books

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Details of HO 87
Reference: HO 87
Title: Home Office: Factory and Mines Entry Books

Entry books of out-letters to inspectors of factories and (1843 to 1855) of mines and of orders relating to the administration of the Factories, Mines and Collieries, and Highways Acts, with some relating to exemption from military service. The series also includes a volume of reports of inspectors of mines, 1851 to 1852.

Date: 1836-1921
Related material:

Minutes of meetings and conferences of inspectors, files concerning the arrangement of their districts and other records relating to factory inspection are in LAB 15

For records of the Safety and Health Division and records of the Inspectorate of Mines and Quarries of the Ministry of Power and Predecessors see POWE 8

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Home Office, Factory Department, 1844-1940

Home Office, Factory Inspectorate, 1833-1940

Physical description: 53 volume(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

Factory inspectors were first appointed in 1833 under the Factory Act of that year, which regulated the working conditions of children and young persons in mills and textile factories. The Act authorised four inspectors, to report to the Home Secretary on the state of factories and the conditions of young persons employed in them. Superintendents, called sub-inspectors after 1844, were also appointed to supervise the execution of regulations in factories. The inspectors, sub-inspectors and their staff were appointed by the Home Secretary to serve the four districts into which the United Kingdom was divided.

In 1844 a central office, known later as the Factory Department or Factory Office, was established under Home Office supervision exercised through the Domestic Department and, after 1896, the Industrial Department. These departments also carried out the specific duties of the Home Secretary under the Factory Acts. In 1878 a chief inspector was appointed directly responsible to the Home Secretary for the operation of the central office and district inspectorates.

Later legislation extended both the scope of regulations and the range of industrial activities governed by them, and led to the appointment of specialised medical, electrical, engineering, textile particulars and dangerous trades inspectors. From 1893 there was also a growing number of female inspectors who formed a separate body until they were amalgamated with the male inspectors in 1921. In 1891 sanitary conditions in factories became the concern of the local sanitary authorities and their inspectors, while medical aspects of factory legislation were made the responsibility of the Ministry of Health in 1921. In 1887 factory inspectors were made responsible for the enforcement of the Truck Acts as regards factories and workshops. After 1897 they acted as agents for the Board of Trade in cases of accidents to employees of railway, canal and dock undertakings, referring to the Railway Department of the Board cases involving transport operations. The inspectorate's first medical inspector was appointed in 1898, its first engineering specialist in 1899 and its first electrical specialist in 1902. During the First World War the department undertook to advise the War Office, Admiralty and Ministry of Munitions on industrial matters and the Board of Trade as to reserved occupations. It was also concerned with the adjustment of factory conditions to the employment of women.

The department was organised in districts under district inspectors with superintendent inspectors in charge of regional divisions. The clerical staff of the chief inspector's office in the Home Office were organised in a Correspondence or General Branch, and in 1900 a Factory Statistics Branch was established for statistical work under the Factory Act 1895. By 1930 the latter had been transferred to the Statistical Branch.

The Factory Department was seconded to the Ministry of Labour and National Service under defence regulations in 1940, and this transfer was made permanent in April 1946.

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