Industry hero – James P Wilson
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 ( bit.ly/1EvV4HO). 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.