Do You Wake Up Early And Always Get Up On The Right Side Of The Bed?

Then you would have been well suited to be a knocker-upper!

Even though the invention of the alarm clock goes back to the time of ancient Greeks, they were not really a gadget that the everyday working man could afford back in the day. And at the height of the Industrial Revolution in Britain if you wanted to get paid, well you needed to make it to the factory on time. So how did those workers do it? They hired a knocker-upper.

This enterprising group of early birds made their living by waking you up for work. Up until the 1970s, many workers would wake up to the sound of tapping on their window or banging on their door. On the street the Knocker-Up would be walking down from house to house with a long stick, banging on their customer’s windows.

i.amz.mshcdn.com

It was a very common sight, especially in the northern industrial towns like Manchester or Bradford where people worked in shifts. It was also a notable profession in London where dockers slept and had very unusual hours due to the various tides of the river Thames. The profession spread out hugely in areas where the poorly paid factory workers could not afford their own watches but would lose their job immediately if they missed a shift.

They are even featured in Charles Dickens book Great Expectations, which notably also describes the story of the infamous Jack the Ripper murders.

The long stick method was actually quite ingenious, you see initially knocker uppers would ring doorbells and bang on doors. But they quickly realized they were waking up some people for free! Sometimes neighbors of a paying customer were just relying on them also to be woken up. So they made the window tapping stick which would be loud enough to wake up their paying customer but would not disturb anyone else. There are even reports of some knocker uppers shooting peas at their customer’s windows, with pea shooters!

Mostly it was a profession that ran in the family, though it was also a way the elderly could keep working. And who woke up the knocker uppers? No, they were a group of night owls. Normally the knocker-upper would sleep through the day and wake up at around 4 PM in the afternoon. Though there are also some reports of constables being knocker uppers, as a way to supplement their police pay, they would wake people up on their first round.

Once alarm clocks became cheaper, the profession quickly died out. However, they did continue for a couple decades in a specialized capacity. Some railway depots used them to call in workers for last-minute cover shifts before telephones.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • Before 1935 Toilet Paper Had Splinters

    Yes, your nightmare, toilet paper with splinters, was actually a sold commodity before the 1930s. Imagine going to the toilet, only to have to face a dangerous roll of toilet paper that was planning to stab you the moment you let your guard down. Those splinters would have been extremely painful, that is for sure....

    Read More
  • Melanism Nature’s Incredible Opposite Of Albinism

    Most people have heard of Albinism which is the congenital disorder that is known by the complete or partial absence of any skin pigments. The pigments are often lacking in the skin, hair, and eyes. Normally this results in white hair and pink eyes when it comes to mammals. When it comes to animals it...

    Read More
  • Wolverine Horror Frog Breaks It Own Bones For A Claw

    The hairy frog or the horror frog as eloquently known is not only a strange looking creature in the animal kingdom. It also possesses a trait which as far as everyone knows is completely unique. When under aggression or needing to defend itself from a predator, the hairy frog will break its own toe to...

    Read More
  • So Many People Were Buried Alive A Safety Coffin Was Patented

    During the 17th and 18th century one of the great fears that played in the back of everyone’s mind was the possibility of being buried alive. With sicknesses and diseases often ravaging whole communities, sometimes mistakes were made. It could only take someone falling into a deep fever, with their breathing extremely lowered for them...

    Read More
  • The Mouse That Believes It's A Wolf

    If you heard this creature deafening cry during the night, you may be mistaken to think a wolf was right behind you. Definitely, you would not want to hear it creep up behind you howling in a forest, though if it did you may be forgiven for breaking down into nervous laughter. Because this is...

    Read More