Regency Work Part III

I found too much stuff today and spent too long finding it. But I am going to post a couple of pictures on the topic of work. I was looking for stuff out of the ordinary, but also I was looking for information on street sweepers or crossing sweepers, since the book I am working on right now has a crossing sweeper.

He really is a rather sad looking individual, but these jobs were not really jobs. They were a bit like buskers, if he could get you to tip him for clearing a path through the horse manure, then he would make some money. Here is another rather naughty one. The main feature of the picture is the gentleman being lured into a brothel, but look at the street sweeper in this one. He is not getting paid.

While we are on the topic of street sweepers, I thought we ought to do that other rather well known employee, the chimney sweep. Often these were children. I should note that during the nineteenth century the population of those under twenty was huge, I am not going to quote an actual percentage, because that means going and looking it up, but it was probably close to half, and those that were working were doing very menial jobs, or were apprentices. Any way here are a couple of chimney sweeps.

And now for one job that we maybe don't think of all the time, this is a seller of bandboxes. Now the job is interesting, but more interesting are the boxes themselves. Here is something every heroine is going to need at some point or the other, and here is a picture of them, as well as the man who sells them.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Regency Work Part II

It is hard to imagine a world without computers and planes and automobiles. What were some of the jobs that the ordinary people did? I talked about tin smelting in my last post, but one of the largest employers, even at this early stage of the industrial revolution was the land. And land requires laborers. These laborers, or workers, provide a backdrop to our stories. We can't ignore that they needed people to provide their food or clothing. (Remember that feast I described a while ago?).

Here are a few pictures of happy land workers. Or at least land workers.

It is not exactly clear to me what they are picking. Mushrooms? The grass is very short, and it clearly not full summer, because of the coats. I must admit that the main reason for having this picture was to show that even the poorest of women wore stays. If you look closely you can see them on the outside of the woman's clothes standing in the background. Apparently this was not uncommon, but hearkens back to an earlier era. Also note the various kinds of head gear, and the split rail fence in the distance. All small useful details that might someday bring a scene to life.

These folks are threshing corn (The English called all forms of grain: wheat, barley, oats, by the generic name of corn). The kind that looks like sweet corn, they call maize and it was not sweet and was used for cattle feed, along with mangel wurzels. Always loved the sound of that particular vegetable (It is a variety of beet and definitely used in our time for cattle feed). I can remember visiting a friend and helping wind the handle to chop up the mangel wurzels for her dad's cows. Ooops, off topic. Anyway to my unversed eye, this looks like barley or perhaps wheat, but the long hairy ends look like barley to me.

You can check what those grains look like on google and tell me what you think. Your turn to do some research. What is most interesting to me about this picture is that here we have men, women and children all working together. We don't feel so bad about those children outdoors doing this kind of thing do we? But it was still hard work and the hours long. I like the demonstration of the threshing sticks, see how they are hinged? And look how they carried the corn to the threshers in big blankets. It looks really heavy. Lots and lots to take away from this picture should I ever need a threshing scene.

Now here is something you don't see every day, at least not today. These women and not gathering teasels, they did that already, they are pushing them onto long sticks for easy transportation. What? Are you asking me why? Or, as I suspect, am I just telling you a whole bunch of stuff you know about. Teasel~~used in textile processing, providing a natural comb for cleaning, aligning and raising the nap on fabrics, particularly wool. It differs from the wild type in having stouter, somewhat recurved spines on the seed heads. The dried flower heads were attached to spindles, wheels, or cylinders, sometimes called teasel frames, to raise the nap on fabrics (that is, to tease the fibers).

What a great place to end, because next time I talk about jobs, I am going to talk about cloth making. Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Work in the Regency

One of our visits in Wales was to Aberdullais Falls near Neath in Wales. I had been there before, but since it had given me an idea for a story, I wanted to visit again. This picture is rather lovely, isn't it? It looks like a place for a picnic or perhaps even a place to fish, but in fact while these falls were a beauty spot, they were also the site of industry. Copper and tin smelting.

Tin mining had always been done in Cornwall, I knew that from school, and on my first visit to Aberdullais, I had thought to move this picturesque waterfall to Cornwall for a story I have had in my head for a while. I will have to think again, for while tin was mined in Cornwall, it was shipped to places like Aberdullais where they had water and coal.

As I walked around the exhibition, I was reminded that while the Regency is full of glitz and glamour, it was also the start of the industrial revolution and long before Dickens was writing about child labor, children were working twelve hour days in places like the Aberdullais copper and tin works, as were ordinary men and women. I took some pictures at this site, but of course much of the place is in ruins. The best impressions of how it might have looked were on the displays.

This is the chimney, required of course because of all the heat required to work the metal. The next picture is an artists impression of what it would be like inside the works. You can see men and boys working in this picture and an inset that shows women. By the way, the foreign language you are seeing there is Welsh. I am sure you knew that.... but just in case.

I didn't intend to do much about describing the work that was done in the mine, but one thing does stick in my mind and that is the need for small boys to scrape out the cinders from the furnace. The reason they used children was the narrowness of the passage. A man would not be able to get in there without getting his shoulders scorched.

It is pretty hard to see from this picture, but I think you can get a sense of the narrowness, and of course the steps (at the top of the channel) led into the basement. The next is a picture of the ruins from above, at the top of the Falls (which by the way were diverted by the use of dynamite , thus ruining the true beauty of the spot in a way which meant it could never be recovered. Here is a picture of the site in 1765. You can see that the Falls went around those large rocks. they were blown up, and now all that is left is the narrower channel to the right of them and of course all the industrial buildings and the waterwheel for power which now runs parallel to the river.

Of course there is a great deal to learn about these people and their lives, and as visitors we can only guess at the misery of long hours on little food. The exhibition tells their story.

As we were leaving, we paused on a bridge used to transport the metal onto the River Neath and watched a grey wagtail. He was a reminder that no matter what we do to our surroundings, nature has a way of reclaiming her own. I did take pictures of him. If you can find the bird in this picture you are better than I am, so I have added a picture of what you are looking for. I haven't seen one before, or not that I recall, so it really was a special treat. His long tale bobbed up and down constantly. This bird spends most of its life and breeds by fast running water.

Lots of food for thought. I am going to continue with a bit more on work in the Regency, since it is a backdrop for many of my stories, even if the main characters are lords and ladies. Until next time. Happy Rambles.