In­dus­try hero – James P Wil­son

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - MY ANCESTOR WAS A CANDLEMAKER -

James P Wil­son, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Price’s Pa­tent Can­dle Fac­tory, was deeply religious. He wanted to im­prove his young work­ers’ health and morals. In 1848, Wil­son set up school­sols at his own ex­pense for the chil­dren workin ng at the can­dle and night-light fac­to­ries, where pupils re­ceived read­ing and writ­ing lessons af­ter fin­ish­ing their day or night shift. They were also given a meal. Free lessons were given to un­em­ployed lo­cal chil­dren, too, and the most pro­fi­cient learn­ers were of­fered a fac­tory place. By the early 1850s, the fac­tory schools had more than 500 schol­ars.

Wil­son also set up a chapel, a cricket cket pitch and baths at the fac­tory, so that work­ers could clean off can­dle grease af­ter their shift. They had an­nual out­ings to places like Herne Bay – for many can­dle chil­dren this was their first ever trip to the sea­side. When Wil­son re­ported on his schools for the firm’s shar­share­hold­ers, they were so im­pressed that thhey re­paid all of the money he’d spent, and took over the schools’ ru­un­ning costs. The story of Wil­son’s pphi­lan­thropy caused a sen­sa­tion and a to­tal of 7,000 copies of his re­port were sold ( Sales of Price’s can­dles rock­eted. James WWil­son’s ed­u­ca­tional schemes inn­spired man­u­fac­tur­ers like J Bag­nall & Sons in West Bromwich to set up a nig­ght school and church for their iron­wwork­ers and col­liers. TheThe WWil­son fam­ily’s pa­ter­nal­ism went even fur­ther. When they founded a Price’s fac­tory on the Wir­ral, they built a model vil­lage with a school and hos­pi­tal for their work­ers.

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