Jobs On The Street: Old Photos.

For as long as goods and services have been sold, they have been sold in public, on the street.

From Roman times, up to and including my own childhood, street vendors were an everyday sight on the streets of London.

A ‘Shoe Black’, plying his trade in the 1920s.

A milkman, during the early 1960s.
It was unusual by then to see a man still using a push-cart.
Though our own milkman was still using a horse at the time, that was soon replaced by an electric vehicle.

Hot Chestnuts.
Traditionally a cold-weather, seasonal occupation, these sellers could be seen all over London.

In the summer months, Ice Cream sellers were everywhere.
They rode around the streets until they sold out.
The largest company, Wall’s, had their iconic sign. ‘Stop Me and Buy One’.

Street musicians liked to work in busy shopping areas, passing around a hat after performing.
These two went so far as to transport a harp!

Peanut sellers favoured sporting events, exhibitions, and anywhere they could guarantee a large crowd.
Percy Dalton was the top selling brand of peanuts in shells.

Rag and Bone men originally collected unwanted rags and bones, as their name implies.
By the 1960s, they had branched out into the burgeoning antique market, as you can see from this man’s sign.
They also took away any potentially valuable scrap, including most metals and electrical wiring.

Changes in local laws, food sale regulations, and the growing reluctance of consumers to buy things from street vendors, have now all but consigned them to history.
Street entertainers still flourish though, in the most crowded and popular tourist spots in London. Also as buskers, all over the capital. These days, they have to apply for a licence to perform. Doorstep milk deliveries still exist too, but with most of us buying cheaper milk from supermarkets, their time is almost at an end. You can still buy ice cream from vendors selling it from a motorised vehicle. In places like here in Beetley, they drive around the streets in the summer months, playing tunes through a loudspeaker to announce their presence.

Most former Rag and Bone men graduated into becoming scrap metal merchants. With the public wise to the money to be made from scrap, they now usually have to pay to take away the scrap metal that was once left outside for them to collect for free. As for shoe-blacks, the popularity of trainers and casual shoes meant that few people needed to have their shoes polished anymore. They can still be seen in some business districts, where they have become something of an amusing oddity.

59 thoughts on “Jobs On The Street: Old Photos.

  1. Delightful post, Pete. I clearly remember having milk delivered to the house. It is finding a resurgence here in areas that have farmers markets and farm to table restaurants. People want to return to better food. Wonderful photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jennie. Outside of our reasonably affluent village, low incomes mean most people have to buy at the cheapest supermarkets here. I doubt milk delivery will return as it used to be.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s the same way, here. Low income people and those in the city aren’t having milk delivered. This is happening in the suburbs that are more rural, where the wealthier people want to be. They care about food and want their children to have grass and nature to explore. They want to raise a family the way it used to be. It makes sense. And I might add, that milk (ice cream, too) straight from the dairy is delicious. Best to you, Pete.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A trip down memory lane and most enjoyable. I used to look out of the school playground to see the Milkmans horse as he slowly made his way up the street. The horse knew the routine and when to shuffle onto the next house. There is an old saying that ‘ manners maketh man ‘ but truly ‘ memories maketh man’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These things go in cycles and vary by country. Here in British Columbia, “street food” is popular, usually delivered by rather large food trucks that are in effect mobile kitchens. Usually in downtown and tourist spots and at crowd events.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Pete. Saw most of these as well in my youth. Our milk man had a horse drawn wagon. There were also fruit and vegetable trucks going door to door; I worked on one as a kid. Chestnut sellers were most popular around the holidays. Ice cream wagons came around all summer. I also remember trucks and wagons that came around offering to sharpen knives and scissors on a grinding wheel.

    Nice photo memories. Besties.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. nostalgic post, Pete. there are still street vendors around although few. there’s a fresh fruit vendor by union station here in downtown chicago. he was there this morning even at 35F (1.7C)!
    you can find a lot in ball game arenas too! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There was a funny, long-running sitcom in the US called Parks and Recreation, where an actor, Chris Pratt, played a chubby-at-one-time-shoeshine person in city hall. As you were talking about where old jobs went, I thought it’d be funny… He went on to be a super-hero in Guardians of the Galaxy on Jurassic Park. Now you’re all caught up πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  6. A lost art to be sure, although we have fresh fruit vendors on street corners everywhere in Los Angeles…ice cream vendors with the carts also push through the sand on the beaches in Santa Monica and Venice as well!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. (1) Goods and services. Gods and vices. Some things never get old.

    (2) I wonder what that milkman has been up to? ………..

    Now, I’m standing in the kitchen carving up the chicken for dinner,
    and in storms my husband Wilbur in a jealous rage.
    “You been screwing the milkman!” he said.
    And he kept saying, “You been screwing the milkman!”
    Then he ran into my knife.
    He ran into my knife ten times!
    (Chicago: “Cell Block Tango”)

    (3) The chestnuts may be hot, but she’s not.

    (4) Brickettes and Snofrutes? I remember back when men were confident of their gender, and chased after women. Alas! Those days are long gone!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This made me remember when we had our milk delivered. Some mornings bluetits had pecked through the foil top to steal a sip or two of milk and in winter the milk froze, pushing up above the level of the bottle neck. I used to make hot chocolate for the boy who delivered our milk (I fancied his brother) which he gulped down as fast as could.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such a nice post, Pete! Really enjoyed it. Still remember the milkman coming to the door when I was a kid, coming to replace the empty, glass (!) bottles with filled ones. Recently my wife and I were in Indonesia. Completely different story there – so many street vendors, artists etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow, I didn’t know old times were this beautiful, my favourite part was the ice cream one and now I want one. Let me go see if there is a car outside selling ice cream, no there is none. It’s so sad. When we were young we thought the future would be better now we think the old times were better😢✌

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I enjoyed reading this Pete. Although I wasn’t born until 74, I still recall hearing the rag and bone man shouting through the streets and the coalman delivering sacks of coal to the few who still have real fires. We had a milkman who had a battery powered milk float. It was quiet so not to wake people up early in the morning. We still had a milkman upto 8 years ago. In the day and age of cheap supermarket milk and cashless forms of payment, I used to forget to have my milk money ready when he collected it on a Friday evening. Take care. Ian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ian. Beetley still has a doorstep delivery milkman, using a large van. I don’t buy from him though, as it costs almost three times as much, and you have no idea how fresh the milk is.
      Shame about all those plastic bottles we use from the supermarket though.
      Something will have to change there, I reckon.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Nice post, Pete. I did hear that doorstep deliveries were on the increase again in some areas of London, somewhat derogatorily described as ‘hipster’, because the glass bottles are more easily reused & recycled, but I don’t know how true the former is. Cheers, Jon.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I can picture that. Trendy people paying too much for stuff, to be seen to be doing their bit for the environment. Then taking three foreign holidays a year by air, and creating a huge ‘carbon footprint’. πŸ™‚
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Yes, it was reported earlier in the year that milk deliveries were on the rise again all over the country because of people turning their back on plastic. Even happening up here in the North West. Whether that can be sustained and not just hipster will remain to be seen.

          Liked by 2 people

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