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The Knocker Uppers – Forgotten Occupation

Forgotten Occupations

The “knocker upper” was a common sight in Britain, particularly in the northern mill towns, where people worked shifts, or in London where dockers kept unusual hours, ruled as they were by the inconstant tides.

Picture is Mary Smith in 1931 one of the last knocker uppers, who worked in East London. She used to shoot peas at the windows of her clients! The most common tool used by others was a long stick to knock on the windows. With the spread of electricity and affordable alarm clocks the trade died out in the 1940’s and 50’s.

The “Leech Collector” was someone who collected leeches which were on growing demand in 19th century Europe. Leeches were used in bloodletting and were not easy to find. Leech collectors would attract the leeches by using the dead animals, often using the leg of a horse. This occupation was not a well paid trade

Leech collectors were active across the United Kingdom, with bogs and marshes being the best hunting ground. There was a huge decline and the species almost reached extinction in the UK but started making a comeback from the 1970’s.

Have you found any strange occupations during your research?

Source: Find My Family

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