At the start of the period, 20% of the country's 20 million people lived in towns. At the time of Queen Victoria's death, that percentage had risen to 75% with a total population of approximately 40 million. The migration to the towns was the result of people seeking to find work in the factories that had begun to spring up during the period. To accommodate this influx of the masses, poor quality slums quickly rose to house them.
Homelessness was a major problem especially for those unable to work and alcohol was not only cheap, but often easier to get than pure drinking water so drunkenness (even amongst children) was also a problem. Unsanitary conditions abounded. Poverty was so bad that many resorted to crime in the dark and dirty streets; the old and the sick falling victim to pickpockets and worse.
The streets did, however, offer numerous opportunities to earn a living. Traders sold anything from bread, milk, pies and poultry from hand carts.
On one side of London lived the wealthy who lived in large, elegant villas while on the other side of town the poor lived in squalor.
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