Sewer hunters of Victorian London

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15 Responses to “Sewer hunters of Victorian London”

  1. Syd says:

    My favorite Victorian era job was “Pure Finding”. Basically you went around collecting dog shit to sell to leather tanneries. This job stuck around until 1935 but at 8 shillings a bucket it might make a comeback.

  2. Stefan Jones says:

    Sooooo Victorian Londoners would adopt cute baby pigs and then dump them down the loo?

  3. Boundegar says:

    Charles Palliser’s 1990 novel The Quincunx has a long and fascinating section with the hero living and working with the men who scrounged “the Shore” to survive.  It’s a grim, dickensian novel with incredible attention to detail.

  4. blueelm says:

    “To live in any large city during the 19th century, at a time when the state provided little in the way of a safety net, was to witness poverty and want on a scale unimaginable in most Western countries today.”

    We’re working on it! 

  5. Lyle Hopwood says:

    Well, that must explain the term “a load of old tosh”. 

    Here’s an article on the Sewer Pigs of Hampstead. I was fascinated with it when I first saw it:  http://www.thevirtualdimemuseum.com/2009/03/wild-sewer-pigs-of-hampstead.html

  6. Rotwang says:

    Recommend everyone read “The Ghost Map” by Steven Johnson.  It’s about cholera in London, but it goes into the dirtier jobs of the period.  I think the teams emptying the ‘waste cisterns’ had to have had one of the messier jobs…

  7. DreamboatSkanky says:

    I’d like to recommend Clare Clark’s novel “The Great Stink”, set in these sewers with a great cast of characters and olfactory detail and yes, rats.

    http://www.amazon.com/Great-Stink-Clare-Clark/dp/B004JZWL54/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1341539236&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Great+Stink

  8. As someone who has worked with rodents and been bitten by many rodents, I should remind everyone that rat bites seldom get infected because they tear out enough flesh that the wound bleeds itself clean. I think the infections were because the wound was getting random sewer goo rubbed in it.

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      You would doubt a guy who is styled “Rat and Mole Destroyer to Her Majesty”?

    • jackie31337 says:

      When you consider that walking around in a sewer means you are wading through human (and other) waste, it’s easy to see how rat bites could be a source of fatal infections, especially in a time before antibiotics.

  9. Bad Juju says:

    Is this part of Romney’s jobs plan?

  10. dr.hypercube says:

    Toshers get a prominent mention in @Harkaway ‘s excellent _Angelmaker_.

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