After WW1, not that much had changed in London in almost 100 years. Photographers were still keen to document life on the streets, and the jobs of ordinary working people.
A Concertina Man. This elderly man is trying to make a living as a street entertainer, playing his Concertina. His female companion carries the box for the Concertina, and a smaller one for collecting any money people give him.
The Pet Meat Man. These traders would sell meat considered to be unfit for human consumption, and people would buy the cheap cuts to feed their pets.
The Telescope Man. Sitting at the corner of Westminster Bridge opposite the Houses of Parliament, this man would charge a nominal amount to look through his telescope at the surrounding views. He also sold leaflets about the history of Queen Boadicea, who is on the statue behind him, and of Big Ben, the famous bell in the tower oposite.
Gas fitters installing ‘modern’ street lighting.
The window cleaner. This man carried his ladders around on a cart, and would wash the windows of better-off Londoners. They usually had a regular ’round’ of customers. We have a version of those in Beetley, in 2022. They use vans instead of carts, but little else has changed.
The Telegram Messenger. Telegrams were run by the Post Office, and were a popular way to get a message across a long distance to impart urgent information to the recipient.
A 1920s Chimney Sweep. Sweeps were still essential, as everyone had coal fires. But they were no longer allowed by law to employ small boys as assistants.
A Gramophone Man. Pushing a wind-up gramophone in his old pram, this man would wander around the streets playing popular songs of the day. He hoped that people would give him a few pennies for the ‘entertainment’.
A female ‘knocker-upper’. Before the widespread use of alarm clocks, workers who had to start work very early in the morning would employ someone to wake them up by tapping a long pole against their bedroom window. This lady has made life easier for herself by using a pea-shooter to fire hard peas against the windows.
At one time, these street entertainers were very common on the streets of London. They would stage miraculous ‘escapes’ after being bound in heavy chains or tight ropes. They could be seen outside major tourist sights like the Tower of London, or entertaining cinema queues before the film show started. They always had an assistant who secured them first, then collected money by passing a hat around the crowd.
Telephone Cable Erector.
As home telephones became more common, these men would do the dangerous job of stringing telephone cables across street to be attached to poles. They had no safety equipment then.