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Author Topic: Jobs that don't exist anymore... but maybe should.  (Read 6016 times)
George Salt
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*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #25 on: April 13, 2014, 11:08:39 am »

I'm certain I can remember a news story within the last couple of years on the first woman lamplighter being employed, either in London or Bath - but my Google-fu is weak this morning.

What I find interesting are all the suggested obsolete occupations that aren't.. in particular ones like rat-catcher and chimney sweep, or to a lesser extent milkman and knife-sharpener - I think these suggestions are quite revealing about those that make them!  Rat-catchers and chimney sweeps are both businesses that are doing very well in the modern world.  Although I suspect the days of the milkman are limited.

Some occupations have evolved over the years, the "pre radar plane listeners" were the Royal Observer Corps, who were only finally disbanded in 1995 - finding a new Cold War role post-1947.


One more for the list - drovers, livestock now being moved by rail/truck rather than on-the-hoof.
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SeVeNeVeS
Master Tinkerer
***
England England



« Reply #26 on: April 13, 2014, 11:36:20 am »

I disagree on the knife sharpener as a current, prolific profession, especially "south of the border".

Lets face it, you can pop to your local Asda and buy everything you need for under a tenner, or, in this throw away society, simply buy new for possibly less. So it is a defunct occupation as I see it.

I think these suggestions are quite revealing about those that make them! 

Not quite sure what you mean there. Care to enlighten us further?

~SeVeN~
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #27 on: April 13, 2014, 12:05:04 pm »

Not quite sure what you mean there. Care to enlighten us further?

Well, rat catchers and chimney sweeps are most definitely not obsolete professions - but in the modern world it's possible to be unaware of their existence, until you come across a rat/mouse problem or decide to open up the old chimney and install a wood-burner.  But both are thriving professions (they've both benefited from the recession).  There's a degree of lack of general knowledge in not knowing these professions are still going strong.  And I must admit, I'd have put knife-sharpener into the obsolete professions category if I didn't have experience of working in the food industry and hadn't answered the door to our local knife-sharpener a couple of years ago when he did his domestic round.  I had a very interesting chat with him whilst he sharpened my kitchen knives, about where his work was coming from.

The knife-sharpener isn't a thriving profession, but it's stable.  And your observation on the ease with which the householder can buy a new knife from the supermarket misses the remaining core market for knife-sharpeners - butchers and meat processors.  This is why you don't see them, they're working commercial clients as b2b occupations.  If I don't catch our local knife-sharpener soon when he does a street round, I'll have to leave a message with one of the local butchers to get him to call round.  I suspect he doesn't get much domestic business and the street rounds are only done when he has a couple of hours between commercial clients.  The knife-sharpening profession has also specialised, there are specialist sharpener businesses serving many professions/industries - the print/print-finishing/bookbinding industries all send their guillotine/trimmer blades to specialist sharpeners.

I'd have put saw-doctor onto the list, except I recently came across that as a stable niche business as well..
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SeVeNeVeS
Master Tinkerer
***
England England



« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2014, 12:34:52 pm »

Ok I stand corrected and thanks for the extra info Mr Salt.

I never really thought of the commercial need of Butchers etc, I wrongly assumed they would be able, and have the equipment necessary to do the job themselves, but obviously not.

I totally agree with the recession being good for chimney sweeps, I know many people (including myself) that have a woodburner, in an effort to decrease that gas bill for heating in the colder months. (I work on building sites, so have access to alot of free fuel)

As for Rats, I had a major infestation last year, and yep, the local Council sent out a Rat Catcher. (simply put down a few traps and some poison) It was left to me to beat the one the size of a Tiger to death one night in my loft though. Grin

Edit. Sorry, forgot to mention also, I think it is also a legal requirement that a chimney has be swept prior to a gas fire being fitted, so even more work for chimney sweeps.

~SeVeN~
« Last Edit: April 13, 2014, 12:42:53 pm by SeVeNeVeS » Logged
George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #29 on: April 13, 2014, 12:50:44 pm »

From what I gather the demand from Hight Street butchers largely comes due to butchers being able to maintain an edge on a blade, but not having the equipment to repair damage to an edge.  And there comes a point when maintaining the edge isn't enough or minor damage becomes cumulative and the knife needs a more thorough re-profile.  Even when I had connections to a factory-scale butchery, I'm pretty sure they didn't employ a knife technician but basic maintenance was done by the butchers and the knives all rotated through a contracted knife-grinder.

If you Google "blade sharpening", you might be surprised by the number of results..
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Rockula
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Nothing beats a good hat.


« Reply #30 on: April 13, 2014, 01:12:53 pm »

We still have a milkman. And he has fruit, vegetables and even the morning papers on board.

We still have the 'Knife Sharpener' man who comes 'round a couple of times a year on his bicycle. Same guy who's apparently been doing this for at least 40 years.His sharpening stone is run on peddle power.

The 'Rag 'n' Bone' man comes 'round a couple of times a year as well. But he's long since moved on from horse and cart to flatbed truck. He'll also take plastic and paper as well as the traditional scrap.

There's also a door-to-door seamstress who knocks and asks if we want anything sewing or stitching.

My Mother-In-Law also pays a regular gardener and has a nice little Romanian lady come in once a week to do the house cleaning and hoovering.

And we still have a traditional, old-fashioned, friendly and helpful Postman who doesn't leave cards saying 'Sorry we missed you' but who knows which neighbours we are friendly with and will try to leave parcels with them if at all possible.

Then there's the window cleaner twice a month.

In fact, there's still a whole raft of people in our area doing this kind of 'street based' work.

But there's also the one's you DON'T want. Like people offering to pave over your driveway, pebble dash your house or replace your 2 year old double-glazing. Smiley

The worst new trend in 'door-to-door' is the people claiming to work for charities trying to take away old clothes when what they're actually doing is re-selling it in shops.
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #31 on: April 13, 2014, 01:22:32 pm »

The worst new trend in 'door-to-door' is the people claiming to work for charities trying to take away old clothes when what they're actually doing is re-selling it in shops.

The modern rag-man (the rags in rag'n'bones), it's only the charity pretence that's the difference..
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SeVeNeVeS
Master Tinkerer
***
England England



« Reply #32 on: April 13, 2014, 01:54:52 pm »

Right, forget I even mentioned the knife sharpener, Rockula has one too!

It must be just where I live I suppose.

Carry on, etc.........

~SeVeN~
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #33 on: April 13, 2014, 08:35:55 pm »

*snip*

What I find interesting are all the suggested obsolete occupations that aren't.. in particular ones like rat-catcher and chimney sweep, or to a lesser extent milkman and knife-sharpener - I think these suggestions are quite revealing about those that make them!  Rat-catchers and chimney sweeps are both businesses that are doing very well in the modern world.  Although I suspect the days of the milkman are limited.

*snip*


One more for the list - drovers, livestock now being moved by rail/truck rather than on-the-hoof.


Ah! Then I'm glad I suggested Chimney Sweep.  Indeed my mention reveals we are so used now to central heating, air condition machines and heat pumps.  Most apartment buildings from the 1970's still feature a fireplace, though, and a rudimentary functional chimney, but the practice is dying on flats and apartment buildings account of energy efficiency and such.  Where chimneys are universal is in private residences, with a nice log foreplace being one of those luxuries that we absolutely refuse to give up.  The higher the price of a home the more money which will be spent on a fireplace.  I should know!  I used to sell them for a living in my family business.  The photo below is one of the fireplaces I sold many moons ago:




As to wood burning, at least here in Texas gas is always the cheaper alternative, and wood burning becomes a quaint tradition - you don't really see too many modern wood burning in this area what we have is more traditional fireplaces.  Perhaps in Northern States will you see more energy efficient woodburners (I'm sure they exist - I have seen them in architectural catalogues).

I still see Mr. fisk, come into a local bakery at lunchtime, even in the middle of summer at 40 C, wearing his top hat.  I stopped him once and asked, thinking he was a fellow anachronist, at which pint he point he explained his profession.  Apparently he always wear his topper, and I've seen TV advertisements where he is wearing his topper.  Marketing for him, pleasant anachronism for us.  Grin

I was going to suggest Chimney Sweep, but I remembered we have many chimney sweeps here in Austin.  I did not know that wearing a top hat was customary for Chimney Sweeps:

http://areawidechimneysweep.com/index.shtml



 The  grim tales of the fates of young chimney sweeps of a previous era  give the heebee geebees to think of them.  Larger houses had twisting turning complex networks of  chimneys and flues. Small children were often lost in them when sent up.  There was no way of locating them  with out dismantling   houses so they  were left in there.


Indeed there is a very interesting wikipedia entry on the subject.  A rather long and grim entry,  I'm curious about the risks, even today.  While we may not be forcing children up chimneys (current building standards employ much smaller diameter-energy efficient prefabricated flues), still there is the danger of carcinogens in creosote.  Especially since most wood burning is done in an energy inefficient traditional fireplace with logs.   It must still be a somewhat risky profession.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2014, 08:48:46 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged

Keith_Beef
Snr. Officer
****
France France


« Reply #34 on: April 13, 2014, 09:34:15 pm »

I was going to suggest Chimney Sweep, but I remembered we have many chimney sweeps here in Austin.  I did not know that wearing a top hat was customary for Chimney Sweeps:

http://areawidechimneysweep.com/index.shtml



 The  grim tales of the fates of young chimney sweeps of a previous era  give the heebee geebees to think of them.  Larger houses had twisting turning complex networks of  chimneys and flues. Small children were often lost in them when sent up.  There was no way of locating them  with out dismantling   houses so they  were left in there.


Had our chimney swept in March, when the man came to do the annual check on the oil-fired heating.

As for small children getting lost, I don't know that they lost their way all that often. More likely that one would fall, get wedged or break a leg or get knocked unconsious… maybe that's what you meant by the child being lost?

Resurrectionists might not exist in England any more, but there have been a few gruesome discoveries in London of body parts linked to West African witchcraft customs. The most well-known of these was the case of "Adam".

Ah, I had forgotten to add another couple to the list:
  • Floor scaper
  • Sand boy

By floor scraper, I mean the one who would come around and smooth out the scratches with a hand-plane, like the two men shown in the famous painting by Gustave Caillebotte.

A sand boy used to go down to the beach or to a river and get sand (presumably for free) that he would then sell to innkeepers, butchers, and the like, to spread on the floor to soak up spills and stop the floor from becoming slippery.

Later, with the mechanisation of wood processing so that logs would be carted whole from the forest rather than sawn into planks in situ, sawdust and shavings could be collected and sold in place of the sand.

I remember also, as a boy well into my early teens, the butcher still put sawdust on the floor to soak up any spilt blood.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2014, 09:52:19 pm by Keith_Beef » Logged

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Keith
Hurricane Annie
Zeppelin Captain
*****
New Zealand New Zealand



« Reply #35 on: April 13, 2014, 10:27:37 pm »


This wikipedia link will make you shudder

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimney_sweep

Chimney sweep and his apprentice , Italy


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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #36 on: April 13, 2014, 11:46:52 pm »

Only one of the floor scrapers is using a hand plane, the second is using a burred metal plate - a technique that I remember using in woodwork at school. It gives a fantasticly smooth finish. I think the chap with the plane is taking off the raised edges where the planks have curled, then the chap with the plate smooths off the whole. I'm not sure what the chap with the chisel is doing.
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Arabella Periscope
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Edwardian summer


« Reply #37 on: April 14, 2014, 01:06:14 am »



Crossing-sweeper -- the lads who swept up after the horses in the days of horse-drawn conveyances.... not really a bad job, and good for the gardens they doubtless sold to.  But then sweeping is something I enjoy doing, about the only kind of housework that seems satisfying.
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Hurricane Annie
Zeppelin Captain
*****
New Zealand New Zealand



« Reply #38 on: April 14, 2014, 06:20:28 pm »



Crossing-sweeper -- the lads who swept up after the horses in the days of horse-drawn conveyances.... not really a bad job, and good for the gardens they doubtless sold to.  But then sweeping is something I enjoy doing, about the only kind of housework that seems satisfying.


 This sounds silly but I have had a hard time of it  trying to ascertain exactly what a street/ crossing  sweeper did.  Now you have explained it , it is so blindly obvious.

 along with near  obsolete occupations such as milkmen, draymen,  log drivers, lectors, switchboard operators , resurrectionists, bowling pin setters, lay preachers, sawyers, tailors apprentices, maids there are crossing sweepers in my  family ancestry . Probably a few rat catchers,  and other obsolete  jobs  of ill repute in there too.
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #39 on: April 14, 2014, 06:41:38 pm »

I had an initially puzzling occupation crop up in family history research, "spar maker" - it's not what most people first think (without Googling)..
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Hurricane Annie
Zeppelin Captain
*****
New Zealand New Zealand



« Reply #40 on: April 14, 2014, 06:51:36 pm »

 the immediate thought is  a maker of ship spar

  dictionaries on google say this and also mention spar a long wooden pole.

 What is the definition of your ancestors job?
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
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United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #41 on: April 14, 2014, 07:15:39 pm »

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Hurricane Annie
Zeppelin Captain
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New Zealand New Zealand



« Reply #42 on: April 15, 2014, 12:07:18 am »

That is more interesting than boat rigging.
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chironex
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Australia Australia


The typing jellyfish monster


« Reply #43 on: April 15, 2014, 09:08:10 am »

*snip*

What I find interesting are all the suggested obsolete occupations that aren't.. in particular ones like rat-catcher and chimney sweep, or to a lesser extent milkman and knife-sharpener - I think these suggestions are quite revealing about those that make them!  Rat-catchers and chimney sweeps are both businesses that are doing very well in the modern world.  Although I suspect the days of the milkman are limited.

*snip*


One more for the list - drovers, livestock now being moved by rail/truck rather than on-the-hoof.

Ah! Then I'm glad I suggested Chimney Sweep.  Indeed my mention reveals we are so used now to central heating, air condition machines and heat pumps.  Most apartment buildings from the 1970's still feature a fireplace, though, and a rudimentary functional chimney, but the practice is dying on flats and apartment buildings account of energy efficiency and such.  

Actually, here we are more used to roasting under a giant reactor in the sky, rendering heating redundant beyond reverse-cycle AC. Last time I was in a building that seemed to have the ability to get terribly cold in this environment of its own accord was when I did the Forts walk on Magnetic Island and the command block was noticably cold inside (smelled a bit though) Most houses round here had little thought to using a wood stove to serve a purpose of heating, many kitchens had an extra alcove for the thing, though some houses would of course still be designed by architects who didn't know that Earth is NOT a single-biome planet.

Drovers are still needed, to get the stock into the transports. There were actually train drovers at certain points, when stock was moved by rail. QGR had a curious wagon with a well for cattle in the middle, guards compartment one end, and drovers compartment the other end. I have the kit- different bogie on each end. (which brings us to another- guards on freight trains. Not to mention firemen, "call boys" etc.)

Coppersmiths. They have such trouble finding coppersmiths now that QR Heritage Fleet may have to lose most of its operational steamers, as their brasswork becomes irreplacable without exporting and reimporting them. Not just decor and finishing, either; much of the machines systems are made of brass and copper parts.

I know there is a sawdoctor still around here. There was even a cobbler, until they closed the Cat and Fiddle centre; now I've no idea if there are any.

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« Reply #44 on: April 18, 2014, 02:32:07 pm »

Not sure if Onion Johnnies count?
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frances
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #45 on: April 18, 2014, 08:57:12 pm »

Maid of all work.

A general help around the house who could turn her hand to anything domestic as needed.  She got little in pay, a couple of new outfits a year and a day off a fortnight.
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SeVeNeVeS
Master Tinkerer
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England England



« Reply #46 on: April 18, 2014, 09:21:09 pm »

Maid of all work.

A general help around the house who could turn her hand to anything domestic as needed.  She got little in pay, a couple of new outfits a year and a day off a fortnight.
I could definitely do with one of those!

~SeVeN~
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Arabella Periscope
Zeppelin Captain
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United States United States


Edwardian summer


« Reply #47 on: April 18, 2014, 10:29:30 pm »

That description of a Maid of All Work sounds extremely familiar.  In fact, I would not say that the job does not exist any more.  I have been doing it most of my life; it is unpaid, tacitly imposed by gentlemen at home and in the workplace, and no longer goes with a neat black dress and starched little hat or a half-day out, but with a professional career on top of it.

(Pardon me while I return my soapbox to the shed.)
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Hurricane Annie
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New Zealand New Zealand



« Reply #48 on: April 19, 2014, 01:27:55 am »

Dear Ms Periscope , do keep the soapbox handy. You will undoubtedly  require it its use  on multiple occasions further into the thread
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Will Howard
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United States United States



« Reply #49 on: April 19, 2014, 05:05:53 pm »



Crossing-sweeper -- the lads who swept up after the horses in the days of horse-drawn conveyances.... not really a bad job, and good for the gardens they doubtless sold to.  But then sweeping is something I enjoy doing, about the only kind of housework that seems satisfying.


An even older- but related- job is the "gong farmer".  This individual would empty cess pits & latrines & use or sell the resulting "product" as fertilizer.
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