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The 1880s | Episode 3 | Season 1

1 Season

The slum dwellers have moved into the 1880s - a turbulent decade for London’s East End. Unemployment was sky high and living conditions intolerable but still people came, desperate for work. The pressures are immediately felt by the Howarth family, who find themselves employing new workers in their Victorian sweat shop. Their workforce would have been made up of newly arrived immigrants and the Howarths’ workers all have their own story to tell. But Mandy Howarth is moved to tears when she finds out that the sweated trades are part of her own family history. The Potter family become street sellers, selling sheep’s trotters and jellied eels in London’s East End. But their newfound living is quickly curtailed as it was in 1880s Bethnal Green. Fellow slum residents Andy Gardiner and John Barker come face-to-face with the harsh realities of working life in London’s docks during the era when only one of them could have hoped to earn. While everyone tries to make ends meet, some unwanted visitors arrive in the form a slum tour party and resentment reaches boiling point. The slum dwellers soon understand why the 1880s was a decade of protests and strikes and, though a strong sense community is forming, the precarious nature of Victorian slum life is ever present.

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