Knockers-up: Waking up the workers in industrial Britain, 1900-1941


The knocker-upper profession started during and lasted well into the Industrial Revolution, when alarm clocks were neither cheap nor reliable

The knocker-upper profession started during and lasted well into the Industrial Revolution when alarm clocks were neither cheap nor reliable. A knocker-up’s job was to rouse sleeping people so they could get to work on time.

They would be paid a few pence a week to make the rounds and rouse workers, banging on their doors with a short stick or rapping on upper windows with a long pole. The knocker-up would not move on until he received confirmation that his drowsy client was up and moving.

There were large numbers of people carrying out the job, especially in larger industrial towns such as Manchester. Generally, the job was done by elderly men and women but sometimes police constables supplemented their pay by performing the task during early morning patrols.

In Ferryhill, County Durham, miner’s houses had slate boards set into their outside walls onto which the miners would write their shift details in chalk so that the colliery-employed knocker-up could wake them at the correct time. These boards were known as “knocky-up boards” or “wake-up slates”.

Mary Smith earned sixpence a week shooting dried peas at sleeping workers’ windows in East London in the 1930s. (Photo credit: John Topham / TopFoto).
Doris Weigand, Britain’s first railway knocker-up, makes a call. She is employed to inform workers when they are needed for a shift on short notice. 1941.

Mrs. Molly Moore (daughter of Mrs. Mary Smith, also a knocker-up and the protagonist of a children’s picture book by Andrea U’Ren called Mary Smith) claims to have been the last knocker-up to have been employed as such. Both Mary Smith and Molly Moore used a long rubber tube as a peashooter, to shoot dried peas at their client’s windows.

Source: Knockers-up: Waking up the workers in industrial Britain, 1900-1941 – Rare Historical Photos

A tribute to William Blake under the railway arches

The memory of the poet William Blake can be found, maybe slightly oddly underneath the railway arches in Waterloo

A collection of large mosaics were installed in the railway arches at Centaur Street, which are more usually filled with rubbish and pigeon poo, over a period of 7 years by Southbank Mosaics with Future’s Theatre and Southbank Sinfonia supported by Heritage Lottery.

The location is surprisingly apt though, as William Blake lived nearby from 1890-1800 in the a decade that is often thought to be his most productive years. It’s when he started work on Jerusalem, which is today far better known for the Hymn than the original book — even though in fact, the hymn Jerusalem uses text from one of Blake’s other books. The title of the book and the Hymn are coincidental.

But, 200 years after he moved here, a project was set up to decorate the railway arches in his memory, and now a decade or so later, most of them are still there, rather dusty now, seemingly slightly forgotten, but that’s part of their appeal.

They are not art that shouts or demands attention in a public space. Hidden down inside passages that few choose to walk through, it’s happy to simply be spied out of the corner of eyes of people hurrying through the arches to cleaner places.

You are required to seek out the art down here in its dark lair.

Source: A tribute to William Blake under the railway arches

Forces’ Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn dies aged 103

The singer of We’ll Meet Again, who entertained British troops in World War Two, has died.

The singer was best known for performing hits such as We’ll Meet Again to troops on the front line in countries including India and Egypt.

Her family said they were “deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers”.

In a statement, they confirmed she died on Thursday morning surrounded by her close relatives.

Source: Forces’ Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn dies aged 103

Best Places To Go Birdwatching Near London In The Summer

Summer is near and with that the opportunity for outdoor activities, such as birdwatching. England and London in particular are great places for just that.

You might think that living in a city puts you at a disadvantage for wildlife watching. However, did you know that even in London you can enjoy a spot of birdwatching?

For city-dwelling bird lovers, the UK’s capital can be surprisingly rich in birdlife. Here, we’ll look at some of the best places you can go birdwatching in London.

The Wash National Nature Reserve

What better place to go birdwatching than at a nature reserve? London is home to the Wash National Nature Reserve, the largest nature reserve in England. You can easily catch a train to Kings Lynn near where the reserve is based.

It is particularly renowned for its range of wildfowl and waders. Expect to see species such as oystercatchers, curfews and Brent geese. As well as birds, the reserve is also home to one of the biggest populations of common seals.

London’s parks

You’ll also find plenty of birdwatching opportunities in London’s parks and open spaces. Even the parks in the centre of London can be a hotspot for bird life.

Regent’s Park is a great example, giving you the chance to see the likes of grey herons, tufted ducks, the red- crested pochard and the grey wagtail. There is even a designated walk you can go on to increase your chances of seeing the most birds on your visit.

You can also spot different bird species in open spaces such as Hampstead Heath and Little Wormwood Scrubs. These open spaces are home to more than 200 different species of birds.

Wetlands and waterways

There are a number of wetlands and waterways you can visit in and around London. The Thames is the best place to head to for a spot of birdwatching. Here, you’re likely to see cormorants, ducks and gulls.

You could also head to the Barking Riverside when the tide is low and the mud flats are exposed. Or, why not walk along the capital’s canals or visit an estuary?

These are just some of the best places you can go to experience London’s bird life. However, it’s also possible to spot birdlife on the main streets of the city. Birds such as pheasants, woodcocks and ducks have all been spotted in London’s main high streets. So, wherever you go, there’s a chance you’ll get to see both common and rare bird species.

Source: Best Places To Go Birdwatching Near London In The Summer | Shout Out UK

In Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine, an Oxford Group Leaps Ahead

As scientists at the Jenner Institute prepare for mass clinical trials, new tests show their vaccine to be effective in monkeys.

In the worldwide race for a vaccine to stop the coronavirus, the laboratory sprinting fastest is at Oxford University.

Most other teams have had to start with small clinical trials of a few hundred participants to demonstrate safety. But scientists at the university’s Jenner Institute had a head start on a vaccine, having proved in previous trials that similar inoculations — including one last year against an earlier coronavirus — were harmless to humans.

That has enabled them to leap ahead and schedule tests of their new coronavirus vaccine involving more than 6,000 people by the end of next month, hoping to show not only that it is safe, but also that it works.

The Oxford scientists now say that with an emergency approval from regulators, the first few million doses of their vaccine could be available by September — at least several months ahead of any of the other announced efforts — if it proves to be effective.

Now, they have received promising news suggesting that it might.

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Montana last month inoculated six rhesus macaque monkeys with single doses of the Oxford vaccine. The animals were then exposed to heavy quantities of the virus that is causing the pandemic — exposure that had consistently sickened other monkeys in the lab. But more than 28 days later all six were healthy, said Vincent Munster, the researcher who conducted the test.

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