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Cost of Living,1900s.

I said on the home page, wouldn't it be nice to just pop back and just have a look around. How much nicer though, to go back with a couple of bucket's, full of Victorian Sovereign's. I would certainly fancy a brand new Three Bedroomed House, for a mere £300, no matter where it was. What a pity some of our grandparents never bought 3 or 4 of them. The Stamp duty would only have been 3 shillings on each one. Of course, you would have needed a bed. £3.7.11p would have secured you a Brass framed monster, although a feather stuffed mattress would have set you back another £2.18.0p. A full, and posh, furniture suit, was around 12 to 17 guineas. ( a guinea being £1.1s ) Having splashed out on the House, how about a little Car. A nice 8 Horse Powered saloon, ( choice of body styles, lights extra ) was about  £200, but transport was a little cheaper if you went for 2 wheels instead of 4. From around £32 guineas you could be the proud owner of a Motor Cycle, ( starting handle included ) and for a little more, fitted with 3 speed Sturmy Archer Gears. Never mind the cost of Petrol, at just a 1/- a Gallon, the world was your oyster. Now I don't want anyone to faint, but should you be contemplating a picnic, thanks to your new vehicle, a Loaf of Bread was just 6p, and a bottle of milk for the tea, only 2p. Cucumber sandwich anyone.


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

June 29, 2011 at 4:53 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Cost of Living, 1900s.

Carrying on with this theme, having purchased a House, and furnished it, one had to look the part. A new pair of Boots would look nice, just 10/6p from a place in Dudley, any colour, Ladies or Gents, same price. Mine had steel tips on the heel, great for making spark's from the blue bricked pavements. A Hat, you must have a hat, not a plain old flat cap, a proper hat, like a Bowler. Just spend 3/9p, and you would be immediately changed into a " Gentleman ". A new suit would have also been a must. Tweed, Cashmere, or Blue Serge sir, from £1.15.0d to £2.2.0d, no need to wait, straight off the peg. And for the wife, something to match, how about a tailor made Coat and Skirt, just £2.18.0d. One day, I will work out, just how much that lot would cost in todays money. I strongly suspect it would call for a drink or two. Mind you, 1/6d would buy you a couple of gallons of palatable beer, although the strength would be debatable, and you might have to consume the lot, before the senses became a bit dulled. Back then, nearly everyone smoked either a pipe, fags, or cigars, yes, even the women. A  Tobacconist's own brand of mixture cost as little as 4p an ounce, and for under 8p, you could get 2 ounces, provided you didn't mind cutting it off a block and hand rolling it. Health and Safety would have had a blue fit, if they had walked into a Public House in the Black Country in 1904. Smoke so thick, you couldn't tell if it was night or day. It was like that in the 1950s as well. Nearly every Pub had some kind of entertaiment as well, Piano in the corner, (£18 brand new) or a bloke with a Violin, just 5/9p, bow extra at 1/-. We had to settle for an old codger with a squeeze box, and an old lady playing the spoons. It sounds so cheap when we look back, but these were hard times as well, not everyone could afford even the price of the bread. My Grandmother, who for a time taught at a Sunday School, used to recite the following little rhyme.

Only a drop in the bucket, but every drop will tell,

The bucket would soon be empty, without the drops in the well,

Only a poor little penny, it was all I had to give,

But as pennies make the shillings, it may help some cause to live.

God loveth the cheerful giver, though the gift be great or small,

But what would he think of his children, who never gave at all.

Maybe thats a thought for the day.


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

June 30, 2011 at 4:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Cost of Living, 1900s, Wolverhampton.

Wolverhampton had a very obliging Furniture Company in 1904. Situated at 58/59 Victoria Street, the firm of John Cavit & Sons, not only sold households goods at competitive prices, they included a discount as well. This was at a time when a Bedstead was simply that, a Bedstead. To be purchased seperately, you would need a spring, this fitted on top of the bed frame,(it came complete with a big handle for tightening the springs ) a cloth pad, ( this fitted on the spring to prevent the mattress from snagging ), and a Flock, or Feather Mattress. Depending on how good a job you had, a whole house could be reasonable furnished for about £25.00. And to prove it, heres a little list.

Brass Bedstead.....................................£3.12s.6d.

Spring 19/6d. Pad 3/6d ........................ £1.3s.0d.

Flock Mattress.............................................16s.0d

Clothes Horse 2/6d. Toilet Set 10/9d......13s.3d

Bedroom Suite......................................£7.19s.6d

Overmantle 25/- Ashtidy 4/9d.............£1.19s.9d.

Fret Brasses 5/11d. Curb 5/6d.................11s.5d.

Mantle Board 2/-............................................2s.0d

3 Tables - 15/6d, 8/6d, 2/9d..................£1.6s.9d.

Wall Cob Rocker 6/6d, Coco Mat 1/3d.....7s.9d

7 8X4 Floorcloth 1/9..................................12s.3d.

7 Piece Arm Cloth Suite......................  £6.6s.0d


Less discount                                           1.4s.8d


Additional Mirror 13/-................................13s.0d

Cash total to pay................................  £24.9s.0d

The gentlemen paid a deposit of £10.00. leaving him just the balance of £14.9s.0d to pay when the stuff was delivered. If only you could get service like that today, never mind the price, we would all go home happy. A copy of the original bill, will be found in the images album, in the Gallery.


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

July 11, 2011 at 3:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Cost of Living,1900s.

At the turn of the century, the average wage of a Labourer, or unskilled man, was between 26 and 30 shillings a week. The working week was of 55 and a half hours, which reduced in the winter, as did the wages.  He, and his family, would have lived in a small house, probably part of a " Court ", no running water, a shared " Neccessary house ", and no bath. The rent for a typical three rooms was between 2s.6d and 3s.6d. For the better off, five rooms would have cost 5s.3d per week, and only a skilled man could afford such sums. Then we come to the basic food items, that kept body and soul together. Fortunately, around this time, many shops had expanded, like the Co-operative, or Home and Colonial and others like it, so competion had crept in. All the prices are in old currency.

Tea. Sold loose or in packets.    1s 4d to the best at 1s 6d per Ib.

Sugar. Sold in Loaf,  from 2d to 3d per Ib, Granulated and Demerara the same. Moist Sugar, 2d per Ib.

Bacon.  Coller, 8d to 9d. Back, 7d, Streaky, 6d to 7d, Roll, 7d to 8d.

Eggs.  Sold in 10s, 12s, 14s, depending on size, 1 shilling.

Cheese. American Cheddar seems to a favourite. 7d per Ib.

Butter.  Danish, 1s 1d to 1s 2d per Ib, or Colonial, 1shilling per Ib.

Potatoes. Sold in weights of 7Ibs, 2d to 4d.

Flour. Again, sold in 7Ib lots, 7d to 9d, depending on fine or coarse.

Bread. By Law, must weigh 4Ibs, 4d to 5d. Reduced when a day old.

Milk. Sold by Quart, 3d to 4d. Quality Cream Milk was twice the price.

Coal. Sold by the cwt, 8d, 9d, or 1s for top quality.

Parrafin Oil. Sold by the Gallon, 7d to 8d.

Prior to the 1890s, most meat was home produced, but with the advent of the new multiple shops, it began to be imported chilled, in ever increasing amounts. This did not include Pork, which did not travel well. So the avarage housewife had a much better choice, and could save a few  bob as well.

Beef.  Ribs, 8d to 9d.             Colonial Price.     5d.

           Silverside, 8d                     "            "            5d to 6d.

           Shin,     6d to 7d.                "            "            4d to 5d

          Steak      8d to 9d.               "            "            5d to 6d

          Rump,    11d                        "            "             6d to 7d.

Mutton.  Leg      8d to 10d           "            "             5d.

        Shoulder    8d to 9d              "            "            4d to 5d.

        Breast       5d to 6d.              "             "            2d to 3d

Neck, Best end.  9d to 10d         "             "            5d.

      Scrag end.    6d to 7d.            "             "           2d to 4d.

      Chops          10d                      "             "            5d to 6d.

Pork. Leg, 7d to 9d. Fore Loin, 8d to 9d, Belly, 6d to 7d, Chops, 8d to 9d.

There was, as can be seen a conciderable saving to made by shopping around, and most of these stores began to do well. In 1905, the Co-operative, with it's attractive dividend, was paying out 2 shillings a quarter to the thousands of members/customers. It was still a hard exsistance for many, living in overcrowded and insanitry conditions, but food wasn't in short supply. Just the wages to buy it with.



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

September 9, 2011 at 3:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Cost of Living,1900s. Vacuum Cleaner.

While I sat here listening to the sound of a Vacuum cleaner being wealded, with great zeal by the one who must be obeyed, I got to thinking how they managed a 100 years ago. One things for sure, it wouldn't have been as simple as just plugging the thing in. Back in 1906, one enterprising firm in Birmingham, had for sale, not just one machine, but two. The Zorst Vacuum Cleaner Company, in Whittall Street, claimed to be able to supply the housewife with the latest 20th century revolution. Pictured in the Gallery, the machine on the left was the cheapest. It was operated by a wooden handle, which worked a bellows arrangement to creat a vacuum. It would have required the poor little woman, to keep one foot on the base, pump the handle, and hold the pipe and nozzle as well. Well they do say woman can multi-task. The second machine is larger than the first, and this time, is worked by a hand crank, which once again, moved the bellows. Now even though woman are versitile, I rather think that winding a crank and trying to reach all those hard to get at places, is asking a bit much. The price, which isn't in the advert, would have been at least 10 guineas for the small one, far out of reach of peasents like us. The middle class'es would have been the main customers, after all, they would be the only one's who could afford the extra help needed to work the things. I don't know how many they sold, but the only one I found during a search, is in a museum in Scotland.


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

September 28, 2011 at 4:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 46

After looking at the picture in the gallery aren't I glad about having a small one.

October 20, 2012 at 5:34 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Cost of Living,1900s. Post, Cards, Telegrams, Parcels.

Communications is a thing we take for granted today, but most folk, back in time, relied on Letters, Post Cards, and Telegrams. In 1901, your local Post Office, would be displaying a list of charges, that today you would find astonishing: and they made a profit as well.

Letter Post. Not exceeding 4 ounces within the UK, just 1p. For every additional 2 ounces, there was a charge of a further half-penny. If you forgot to stick a stamp on though, it cost the person receiving it, double the postage. You would not have been very popular.

Parcel Post. Within the UK, the rate of the package, which should not exceed 1lb, was 3d, and an extra 1d for every 1lb up to 9lbs when the rate for 10 and 11lbs was 1s. Presumably, over 11lbs, you would either have to send it by carrier, or deliver it yourself.

Telegrams. Within the UK the rate charged was 6d for the first 12 words, and a half-penny for every word after that. That explains why messages were quite short, but there was a small sting in the tail, they charged for the address as well. This made the cost of sending a telegram, about 1s, so would only be used in a dire emergency.

Letters Abroad. A Postal Union had been formed with the rest of Europe, many years before, and the basic cost of say, sending a Letter to France, was 2 and a halfpence for just half an ounce. Every additional half ounce cost 1d, which, as it happens, 1d was the total cost of sending a Post Card, which explains the popularity and growth of Cards. Yes, even the saucy ones.

Money Orders. Yes, you could, if you had any, send your hard pressed relative a sum of money by Telegraph. Sending £3 would cost you 4d, above this, up to £10 cost 6d, plus the cost of the telegram, another 6d. Should your relative's find themselves a bit strapped for cash on a grand tour of Europe, you could send them £10 for just the cost of just 1s.6d.

Postal Orders. By far the most popular way of sending money for the working class, or paying for mail-order goods. You could buy them from the small amounts of 1s, 2s, 3s, and right up to £1, and then add stamps for any amount in between. Thus the charge, for say an order for 3s 6d, would be just a penny. Those of a certain age, will remember, with fond memories, the Birthday and Christmas gifts from a kind aunt or uncle.

From the early days of the Post Office, also came other vital services, some of which are listed below, although not all were very welcome in some families.

Post Office Savings Bank. The minimun accepted to start off an account, and the least you could deposit was 1 shilling. There was also a maximun that could be put in over the year as well, this being £50. You had to stop saving when the account contained £200, including interest payments, which was calculated in 1901 at 6d in the pound. ( Two and a half percent ) You could as well, invest in Government Stock, up to £500, although I'm not sure that would be a safe bet today.

Stamp Duties. These covered all kinds of notices to pay, like invoices, and Bills of Exchange, which is why you see stamps attached to old receipts. They ranged from 1d, up to 1 shilling, and in the case of wanting to display your Armorial Arms on your fancy horse drawn carriage, £2. 2 shillings.

Income Tax. Yes, the dreaded tax could be paid via your friendly Post Office. The rate at this time was 1 shilling in the pound, although the first £160 was exempted. If you earned say just under £400, you simply deducted the exempt amount, and payed on what remained: about £11. The exempted amount reduced as the income got higher, so for those earning £700 a year, it was only £70, a bit unfair on the face of it, but then they could afford to pay the extra tax. ( Sounds really familiar does that.)

House Duty.  This was before local authorities introduced a full rating system. Retal value was the basis, and on a yearlt rent of up to £40, it was 2d in the pound for a shop, lodging house or wharehouse. The top rate was 6d in the pound for those valued at over £60.

Licences. All Dogs had to be Licenced of course and the charge was 7s 6d for a single animal, with every other dog owned costing an extra 2 shillings. A Game Licence, for a full year, cost £3, although you could get one for £2 if you played your cards right. Everyone who sold game, like the Butcher, had to have a Licence as well, cost again, £2. The oddest one of all, and possibly the most stupid, was a Gun or Pistol Licence. With the payment of just 10 shillings, you could use, or carry about the streets, a lethal implement of death. It even covered you to purchase any amount of ammunition you could afford to buy. Some things you see, do change for the better.

Money. For those who read this, who are too young to know the currency from before decimals arrived, here is a quick breakdown.

There were, 4 Farthings to a Penny.

There were, 2 Half-pennies to a Penny.

There were, 240 Pennies in a Pound.

There were, 12 Pennies in a Shilling.

There were, 20 Shillings in a Pound.

There were, 21 Shillings in a Guinea.

There are also a few monetary slang words as well.

A Thrupenny bit.     = 3 pence.

A Tanner.                  = 6 pence.

A Bob.                       = 1 shilling.

One and a kick.      = 1 shilling and 6 pence.

A Florrie/Two Bob.  = 2 shillings.

Two and a kick.       = 2 shillings and 6 pence. ( also, Half a Crown )

Five Bob.                   = 5 shillings.

Half a knicker.         = 10 shillings.

A knicker.                 = 1 Pound or 20 shillings.

Queen Vic.               = A Guinea.

There are many variations on the matter of money terms, all round the Country, and these are just a few from the Blackcountry I have heard over the years.




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

January 17, 2013 at 11:45 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Now I can remember, as a kid, on a monday morning, playing hide and seek with my mother. Nothing unusual in that you may think, but the rule was, the game was played in total silence. And who were we hiding from ?, why the Rent Man of course, for this was a game enacted by many, all over the Black Country, when money was short. But what, I have been asked was an average rent for a house at the turn of the last century. Figures are hard to come by, for most were owned by Factory and mine owners, who charged whatever the market would stand, and the conditions of the houses made no difference to what folks could afford to pay. The situation steadied after the Great War, when more and more Council Housing became available, and some much heralded regulations came into force. Not before time either.

During 1923, a slump in many trades resulted in a drop in wages, causing some Councils to publish, in the face of many protests of to high rents, a list of charges. The chain and anchor makers of Cradley, Halesowen, went so far as to petition the Council for a decrease to match the lower wages on offer. This was the result, The rents in Cradley were set at 10s 9p for a non parlour type house. ( a simple two up, two down ) The same level was set for Hasbury, and the figure for Hill and Cakemore, a little lower at 10s. Parlour type houses ( two rooms plus a kitchen and two bedrooms ) were available in Hill and Cakemore, although the rent set was 11s 3p. A great deal of the housing, in and around Halesowen, were of the non parlour type, having been purchased by the Council from their former owners. Under some protest it has to said, many of them not having had any money spent on repairs for many years. Thankfully, in the years that followed, these old houses were replaced with better accomodation for the long suffering workers. In the 1950s, where my parents lived, the rent was 7s 6p per week, cheap you might say, but mind you, we had no hot water system, no bathroom, and no electricity supply. We were not of course, the only family in these dreadful conditions.


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

January 27, 2015 at 3:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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For those rich enough, in the first full year of World War I, there were plenty of houses for sale and to rent. these are a bit more upmarket than most I grant you, but there were plenty who made a great deal of money out of the conflict. The year is 1915, and the place is Walsall, Staffordshire, which, along with most other Towns in the region, had it's fair share of slums, but also some rather grander dwellings.

The first one was 46, Lichfield Road, a large house of 7 rooms, fitted with modern conveniences, ( I suppose thst means it was fitted with an inside lavatory ) and a nice rear garden. The stated rent for the property was £36 per annum, and of course it was close to all the shops in the Town centre. A bit further up the same road, was a house called " Glenhurst ", a slightly bigger dwelling which comprised; 3 good size Reception rooms, a smartly tiled Kitchen and Pantry, 5 Bedrooms, Bathroom, and seperate Lavatory. It also boasted a Cellar, Garage, and large Garden. All this could be enjoyed, for the princely sum of £40 per annum. Travel some distance up the Lichfield Road, and we encounter, on the right, Mellish Road. Now this was a rather upper class area, situated on the northern edge of the Town, and almost in open countryside. " The Hollies ", was an example of the type of property one could expect for this part of Walsall. It comprised 6 Bedrooms, 3 Reception rooms, Bathroom, and a seperate downstairs Lavatory, a Library, Stables, a Coach house, a Conservatory, and a large garden. The owner, Mr Ennals, was handling the renting by himself, and had in mind a figure of £45 per annum. I don't blame him, it sounds like a very nice house. On the same expensive road, stood a similar sized property, " Birch Villa ", but without the stables and Coach house, although it did have a Garage. The rent was £38 per annum, but the owner was prepared to sell as well. The property had 58 years left on the lease, the ground rent was £6.1s.6d per annum, and his asking price was just £450.00. It doesn't sound much. compared to todays prices does it, but when you calculate the value of todays money, it was the equivilent of almost half a million pounds. Well out of reach of the average working man, those that is who were still in work, and not up to their eyeballs in Flanders mud.


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

March 21, 2015 at 5:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Times were hard in 1900, many were out of work as machinery replaced the tedious process of making every thing by hand. Not only the hard working folk of the Black Country had money troubles, so did a few of the Companies as well. Wright and Company, were a medium sized Glass Making concern down at the Delph, Brierley Hill. Short of cash, so they said, they suspended 27 of their workman for two weeks, and then called in the accountants and put the firm into Liquidation. This of course was ever so slightly illegal, as they should have paid the men the two weeks wages. It wasn't as though the men had walked out. or been sacked, the suspention tactic was entirely of the companies doing, The 27 men sued Wright and Company for a total of £78. 8 shillings. ( The total wage bill for them all for two weeks.) The Company refused, the Magistrates did agree, and knowing that the firm had over £20,000 in assests, ordered payment of the sum claimed, and award costs as well. During the hearing, the following came to light. William Jones, of 4 Delph Lane, the man used to mount the case for all 27, was paid the bare minimum wage, and had to produce, in a week, 300 dozen quart bottles, ( 3,600 ) earning just £1.13shillings a week. Slavery was alive and well in Brierley Hill in 1900 then.


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

October 22, 2015 at 4:37 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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