Message Boys

The Lamplighter: In my childhood the street lighting was supplied by gas. Men were employed to carry a long pole with a small hook on the end, and a wick to be lighted, from lampstand to lampstand. They returned at dawn to extinguish them. Since they had to be up and about at this time, their services were often utilised by the like of factory workers, to wake them up by knocking on doors or tapping on windows. The last lamps in operation were in the South Ward. Does anyone remember them?

The Fishmonger’s Handcart: Each Friday the fishmonger would pull his handcart of fish around the streets. Housewives would run out with their plates to select their fish; most chose herring in season as this was cheap and filling.

The Old-Fashioned Drapers: These had long wooden counters fitted with brass tape-measures. They provided chairs for customers! The cashier sat in a glassed office and money and receipts were passed between the salesperson and cashier by means of ‘electric’ pulleys.

The Telegram Boy: Often news, both good and bad was delivered by means of a telegram. The Post Office employed a number of young boys to make these deliveries. Each was issued with a red bicycle and wore Post Office livery including a forage cap.

 I was once wooed by a telegram boy who would post flowers (probably stolen from a neighbour’s garden) through our letter box.

The Bakery/Butcher’s bike: Some small home bakeries and butchers would employ boys after school and at weekends to deliver to customers. My brother John was employed by Foley’s bakery for this task. The bike used was a three-wheeled affair with a small cupboard in front in which goods were carried.

… more …

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.