Victorian Poor Street Children.
On How They Made A Living Selling Dog Poo!
Poverty in the 19th century was so rife it made the poorest people turn to the most bizarre and sometimes rather whiffy occupations. Some jobs were rather unpleasant but not too bad, such as catching and selling live birds for the high society to show off to their friends as curiosities.
Then of course there were what was called the Mudlarks who scoured the banks of the river Thames to find anything that had been washed up on the shore so they could sell it for a pretty penny, such as bottles and and nails.
But the strangest of all was the 'pure finder'. This was a job that was only ever found in London England, and in fact had never been heard of anywhere else.
A pure finder spent his days searching for dog poo!
Strange? Yes. Bizarre? Maybe. But there was a method in this madness. The pure finder was a person who scoops up the dog poo and sold it to leather tanners.
Tanners used all sorts of poo and urine to 'cure' the leather and make it soft. But the pure finder had a more specialized market. He would sell the poo to bookmakers who's job it was to bind the books with leather.
It was quite a lucrative business. In fact they earned around ten old penny's for each bucket they took to the tanner. From the tanner's point of view it was perfect for 'puring' the leather in a way that it has astringent properties as well as alkaline.
This will cause the leather to dry out sufficiently so as not to leave the leather too soft or soggy to use. When the leather dried out, the poo would fall off and leave a not unpleasant smell!
Sadly many of these collectors were orphaned children.
Photo Taken From The 100 Year Exhibition. Bumper Harris
How The First Escalator Worked.
The One Legged Escalator Tester.
London has the oldest underground railway network in the world. In fact most of it hasn't changed much over the years as the original builders made such a good solid job of it.
But back then the builders had to come up with a way for the ladies and gentlemen to reach the trains in a way that would leave them refreshed and ready for a day out.
They didn't like the idea of everyone having to huff and puff their way up all those flights of stairs. So, in 1910 at Earl's Court Station Piccadilly, the first railway escalator was made.
And the passengers were absolutely terrified of it!
The makers were completely stumped and horrified to think that after all their work and large sums of money spent, people were not actually using it for fear of falling or getting themselves caught in the mechanism!
Until one bright spark came up with an idea.
Why get someone to travel on it day after day to show the public that it was safe to use?
But they got to thinking. What can we do to not only show how safe it is, but prove that anybody can use it, from the youngest child to the oldest woman.
Then, all of a sudden it came to them. Bumper Harris.
Bumper Harris was special in one unique way. He had a wooden leg! Bumper was employed for a number of years until one day the railway realised that they no longer needed him. Nobody knows what happened to Bumper, maybe he just legged it?!