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Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

The Night Soil Men.


Who would have thought, that when the Romans left our shores, in the fifth century, our ancesters could failed to learn from them. Back to wooden round house's they went, no fancy under floor heating, and no decent toilet facilities. It went back to business as usual. This carried on, until, the ammount of people gathered together in Towns and Cities, put a huge strain on cleaning up. Enter the folk that eased the situation somewhat, the ' Night soil men '. Not talked about a lot, these hero's of the bag and shovel, they seem to have lost a spot in the social history of the Blackcountry. How did they do it ? Nearly ever house, had a brickbuilt, or wooden closet, for " neccessities ",  which contained a large hole (pit ) in the ground, and a wooden frame, with a hole cut in it. Some of the more upmarket citizens, had a frame, where two people could sit at the same time. ie, a ' two holer '. My grandad called such neighbours, " snobs ". When the pit was concidered to be full, the householder called the Night soil man. He came along with his Horse and Cart, shoveled it all up, and put into a sack, then went on to the next house. He was paid by the Parish for this rather unwholesome job, and he wasn't bothered by the some of the more nasty names he was called, for the Night soil man had a perk to the job. When the Cart was full, he trundled off to the countryside, haggled with a local Farmer, a sold him his load of " Fertilizer ".  Not bad all this, for the 1830s, recycling at it best, out one end, and back in the other. Never let anyone tell you, that there's no money in shoveling ***t.    :D

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

February 17, 2011 at 11:47 AM Flag Quote & Reply

DemonR
Member
Posts: 4

Now if that doesn't make you grateful for indoor plumbing... It's a fight between Night soil men and suppliers for Tanner's for the Yuck award. What a brave bunch of men!

February 17, 2011 at 5:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

The Night Soil Men.


It's a strange world DemonR, but I came across a little discription the other day, from an area which had a large number of small terraced Cottages. The night soil men, having a great deal of work to do, went up the entry's to the rear of these properties, with wheel barrows. The waste would then be tipped into a circle of Lime, which, ( hopefully ) soaked up the waste, making it drier, for when the Cart came along, when it would be shoveled up. You could tell when they had called, there would be a large damp patch on the road. Storage of so much waste though, caused many problems, including Scarlet Fever, and the dumps were moved, eventually, well away from dwelling houses. There's an example of the early start of rubbish removel in the Gallery, by way of a notice, dated 1869, and from Dudley.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

March 3, 2011 at 11:05 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Unicorn
Member
Posts: 46

One of my distant relatives had the dubious honour of being a night soil man. Well at least he had a job.

March 3, 2011 at 1:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Walsall. Leather and Tanning.


Over in Walsall, was practised another rather smelly trade, Tanning. The Town had been noted since the 16th century for it's Leather good, the preparations of which, were all carried out in the locality. As well as the smell of hides, freshly scrapped of flesh, curing and other fuctions were accomplished with the aid of human assistance. Well, the liquid part of the waste products. It's supposed, that if you lived next door to, or in the close proximinity of a Tannery, you would have got used to the smell. The area was also noted for it's Coal Pits, Limestone mining, and the production of Iron as well, so the fumes from all this, would have gone some way, to mask a Tannery smell. Today, with the trade only being small, all hides are imported, which again I suppose, the inhabitants are grateful for.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

March 22, 2011 at 12:40 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Brickworks and the Marl Hole. Old Hill, Rowley Regis.


The old " Marl 'oles " were everywhere when I was a lad, great places, full of water, where you could fish, and find Newts and Frogs. They had the remains of little railway lines, and very steep sides. Having seen a few pictures though, I wouldn't have wanted to work in one. Up to your knees in wet sticky clay all day long, heaving shovels full of the stuff into tubs. How on earth did they keep their boots on, what with the weight of clay on them and being full of water. They couldn't have lasted very long either, which would explain why a lot of the workers went about barefoot. The deep pits were alway getting flooded as well, and I've often wondered if anyone is still missing down one. Sometimes things fell into them, such as a few houses in Old Hill, when the diggings went a bit too near.The odd horse and cart also finished up in them. At Blowers Green, it was a Canal that emptied into the Marlhole, putting a lot of men out of work, and doing a great deal of damage to the surrounding business's. One abandoned site was used as a drainage pool for the mines around the Water Fall Lane area in Rowley Regis, which also served to top up the adjacent Canal. It could be said that the flooded pits also served another purpose, although not a very nice one, as a place to end it all. There's many an old Marlhole thats seen a few suicides, as in the one that used to be in Cakemore Road, Blackheath, when a man called John Hadley, topped himself. I hope the men who worked so hard, were paid a good wage, it must have been back breaking graft.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 17, 2011 at 3:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Tipton Slasher, and the Night Soil Men.


Now every knows that the famous " Tipton Slasher " was a bare knuckle fighter. What most folks don't know, was that he was raised on the Canal boats. It was back to this trade he went, when all the money ran out because he drank it all. The main trade, or goods he carried, was not something you brag about, he shifted loads of what the Night Soil Men collected. Until the coming of fancy chemicals to spread on the crops, old fashioned farmers, with not enough animal dung, resorted for years, to the Human kind. You could bet your last dollar, that any vegitables you bought at the time, had been grown with the help of a bit of human ****. Whats more, you would have smelt the Slasher's boat coming, long before he hove into sight. Mind you, with the reputation he had with his fist's, it would have been a brave man who stood and took the ***s. He couldn't have made much money at it either, in 1870, he was so short of funds, they had him in the Workhouse at Gateshead. Perhaps that's the reason they buried him at Kates Hill, they just didn't fancy the smell in Tipton.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

January 22, 2012 at 4:46 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Sewers and the Gas.


Now in the latter part of the 19th century, large sewage pipes began to be installed around the region. Although this cleared up the stink from the more common open ditches, it did raise a few more problems. All manner of things were flushed down toilets, as I suppose, they still are today. This resulted in many blockages, and, short of a suitable machine to send down and clear the mess, it was left up to men equipped with the lastest tools available, Shovels, great big Shovels. Unfortunately, it wasn't realised, that the same kind of gas that could explode, or suffocate and kill miners, would also be found in the murky depths of the sewers. So it came to pass, that a large sewer in the blackcountry, became blocked with a pile of festering poo. Down went the men with their trusty shovels, working in a gang of three. One to fill a bucket, one to carry it to the shaft, and one to haul it to the surface and throw into a cart. When the surface man realised that he had been waiting some time for the signal to pull up the next bucket, he went down to see what the delay was. Both his fellow workers had collapsed in the pipe, and, putting his own life in peril, he hauled them both to the surface and into the fresh air. The "digger", although they didn't know it at the time, was already dead. his mate, " the bucket man ", never opened his eyes again, dying some 2 weeks later. Not surprising really, that a short time later, all the sewage workers were asking for " dirt money ", although thats not the expression used at the time. The Council much prefered  the more polite term, of " danger money ".

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

March 4, 2012 at 4:49 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Halesowen Turnpike, Leather and Tanning. Pageter and Shaw.


It never ceases to amaze me at times, the strange things that turn up while looking at old records and documents. Now I didn't know, that near Halesowen, there was a business more associated with Walsall. Anyone travelling the Turnpike Road, between Halesowen and Stourbridge, on a dark, cloudy, and moonless night, would have known exactly where they were by the smell. Situated just off the road at Cradley, stood the Leather Tannery of John Pageter, and Henry Shaw. It must have started up in the 1770s, although if anyone knows the exact date, please let me know. Pageter was born around Cradley in 1749, and Shaw in Oldswinford in 1745. By the turn of the Century, it was a substancial business, made easier of course by the good condition of the Turnpike Road. Like other Tanneries of the time, there being no Chemical Industry, they had to use a time honoured method of curing the skins. Every day, a cart, loaded with a large barrel, would set off down the road to Halesowen, and collect the liquid needed for the task, put out each morning by the inhabitants in Pots. ( It would have been a rather smelly job but for the good road surface ) I would bet the owners never lived within breathing distance of the works. There were at least a couple of Wharehouses, a building to house the Vats,  Drying rooms, Stables, and other outbuildings. Down the road at Colley Gate, were 2 acres of pasture, where the firms horses were mainly kept . John Pargeter bought out his partner Henry Shaw about 1802, but retained the firms name. Sadly, he died in April 1817, and his son, Joseph Pargeter, already an established Nail and Chainmaker at Careless Green, having no interest in the Tanning trade, sold the place at an auction in 1818. Henry Shaw, at the grand age for the time of 83, died in Halesowen in 1828 and I believe is buried in Saint John The Baptist's Churchyard. Ah well, back to the Old documents.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 22, 2012 at 11:08 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Forges and Foundries. Toys and Novelties.


Just as long as the boss never found out, some foundry workers had a rather nice line in little trinkets. Around Christmas time, they smuggled in a few moulding cores, consisting of small animals, horses, dogs, little soldiers, and cannons. Mainly toys for their own kids, but a good few were sold on. Another little earner, were Money Boxes, some were cast as post boxs, others as Pigs or Horses, all having a slot in the top in which to save your pennies. You needed a bit of ingenuity however, to get the money out again. Cottoning on quickly, some foundry owners produced hundreds, of various designs, for the Toy sellers. Monkeys and other animals and dolls, with movable limbs to add to the attraction, were painted in bright colours. ( sadly, the paint was lead based ) My favourite was a Horse, which, when money was placed near the slot on the rear, you only had to press a lever and the horse kicked back, sending the money into the base. Monkeys were popular too, the moving arm pushing the money in through the mouth. My friend in Aston, has a collection of 23, different old cast iron money boxes, non of which has a makers name on it. Someone recently sent a photograph of an example of what the areas foundries produced, to the Blackcountry Bugle, a rather large and heavy Cannon. Again, no foundry mark or name, just another little item of interest , and a few bob in someones pocket.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 16, 2012 at 3:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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