View Full Version : Victorian Voices

tony draper
24th Apr 2005, 00:40
Watched a facinating Documentry on UK history today, chap in the mid 1800s went round London interviewing various street people who were if not quite at the bottom of the social ladder of then time were but a few steps up it , coster monger,street entertainer,rat catcher,and one poor old soul who collected dog shit in the streets (apparently dog poo had some important part in the tanning industry of the time),
Bloody hell! anybody who thinks they are going through a hard time now should listen to these poor bastards,always been facinated by history, but in my day at school they tended to concentrate on Kings and Queens Battles and such, interesting to hear how the other half lived, and very greatfull to be born in the second half of the twentieth century,well close to the second half.

24th Apr 2005, 01:05
Henry Mayhew. One of the founders of "Punch".

tony draper
24th Apr 2005, 01:16
Thats the chap Mr Davaar, they had actors speaking the words of course and very well done it was, must try and get hold of the book.

24th Apr 2005, 02:19
"London Labour and the London Poor", 1851 to 1862, Dr Draper. Selections were published in "London's Underworld" and "Mayhew's London", by Spring Books, London, edited by Peter Quennel. I bought mine in London in 1957. They may have been republished since. The "Underworld" was selections from the 4th volume of the 1851-1862 series, in the volume: "Those That Will Not Work". When I bought the books, the scenes described were from just a hundred years before. Horrifying, really.

24th Apr 2005, 03:46
Also sobering to think that, considering how a family can yo-yo up and down the social ladder through varying generations, these people (or similar) could easily have been our own ancestors.

Unless you are an exponent in tracing family history most of us have lost the plot of our ancetral history in two or three generations. I know my grandfather was a docker but his father could have been a Lord or a street sweeper (the latter more likely).

I don't know if the book you mention is illustrated or whether it was a companion volume I read a while back. Looking into the eyes of some of the unfortunates in the book made me realise that I could be easily looking at a relative.

Wind the clock back another five hundred years or more and I wonder what out forefathers did in those days? Obviously they were tough as they were the plague survivors, got through the many wars (bravery or cowardice) and didn't catch anything fatal - at least not until bearing offspring...

Did I descend from a Cavalier or Roundhead? :confused:

Eee. It makes you wonder..

24th Apr 2005, 04:26
One cannot recall anybody claiming to have descended from a long line of dog shit collectors.

Loose rivets
24th Apr 2005, 06:12
While clearing out my Essex home, one of the most fascinating things I came across was a parcel of old stair rods. The rods were insignificant compared to their wrapping. They were bundled in newspapers dated between 1911 and 1930.

A rat catcher in a certain London borough had his moment of fame when he caught over a million rats. He would not say how he managed to slay them.

Many of the items seemed extraordinarily modern: lampooning of politicians and fashion sales etc.. However, interspersed with these, were articles about officers lost in the North sea, when their dirigible went down, and a Wollesly sp? touring car – with lighting set – cost the same as a five bed house on the edge of the Thames.

Virtual slavery is within living memory. ‘Owners' were known to chase down their ‘debentured' servants if they tried to leave. The war finally opened people's eyes.

Capn Notarious
24th Apr 2005, 08:08
Which is why when laying carpets. The first covering of the floor boards should be a good broadsheet newspaper. Then in years to come, peeps may be forced to consider the former occuppant as Well read type.
Coats from 12/6pence is a Winter Sales advert that springs to mind. But I cannot recall the newspaper.

Mac the Knife
24th Apr 2005, 08:38
"Selections were published in "London's Underworld" and "Mayhew's London", by Spring Books, London, edited by Peter Quennel."

Yo Davaar! - yes, I've got it too - amazing stories. Fills in Dickens no end.

Gustave Dore did many wonderful engravings of street life in old London - sobering stuff.

tony draper
24th Apr 2005, 15:30
Just Googled Gustav Dore, splendid atmospheric stuff Mr Knife, have not come across any of his London work as yet, but the search continues, what a marvel is Google
Coincidently Mahews work is also featuring in the Peter Ackroids documentry series History of London, which is being run back to back on UK History today.