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Skipman

War Bonuses

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Skipman

Looking through local Town Council minutes Monday 12/6/1916 came across this,

" Ex Bailie Munro spoke to the motion of which he had given notice at last monthly meeting that the scavengers be granted a war bonus as an addition to their wages. He suggested that an increase of 3/-week be given to Alex Munro and 2/- per week to Hugh Campbell increasing their wages to 25/- and 23/- respectively. The motion was seconded by Councillor Robertson and after discussion agreed to the rise from 15th May past. "

I'm unsure what Town scavengers did, I assume they cleared rubbish etc. Any information on scavengers welcome.

Why might they be entitled to a war bonus?

Mike

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jay dubaya

Hi ya Mike,

sounds more like they were employed in period recycling

Jon

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Guest

Hi ya Mike,

sounds more like they were employed in period recycling

Jon

Hi Jon. That makes sense. Still not sure why they might be entitled to a war bonus?

Mike

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CarylW

Interesting Mike. Scavengers were I believe street cleaners, or dustmen. I didn't know the following but looked it up in the book British labour conditions and legislation during the war (One of the online books and an American book I think so....)

"Piece rates or of war bonuses of from 5 to 1254 per cent, or from Is. to 4s. a week for time workers.

Besides the changes given in the table, war bonuses and other increases are mentioned as having been granted to government employees, to railway servants, to seamen and to agricultural labourers.' In April, there were further large increases in rates of wages",

Maybe because they were local council/government employees?

Caryl

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headgardener

Hi Jon. That makes sense. Still not sure why they might be entitled to a war bonus?

Mike

The authorities needed lots of things that might otherwise be thrown away or sold (feathers, rags, etc), so I'd assume that they wanted to ensure the scavengers didn't burn them or turn them over for their own profit.

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centurion

If you look at Mayhew - back in the 19th Century scavengers included rag and bone men, dustmen (see Noddy Boffin in Dickens Our Mutual Friend), mudlarks who picked up things from the river mud and anyone who turned a profit from things people threw away (sometimes as Terry Pratchet put it even before they'd thrown them). With the rise of municipalism many local authorities began to license such activities and even incorporated them into the council work force (in the refuse collection department). In WW1 many things such as those made of copper, brass and lead became increasingly valuable and such collectors needed to become more proactive (horrible word) in finding them.

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centurion

Checking my Mayhew I find that public scavengers in England go back as far as Henry VIII when they had to take an oath of office along the following lines

"You shall swear, that you shall well and diligently oversee that pavements* in every ward be well and rightfully repaired and not haunsed to the noyance of the neighbours; and that the ways, streets and lanes be kept clear from donge and other filth, for the honesty of the city. And that all chimneys, redrosses and furnaces be made of stone for defence of fire. And if you know of any such you shall show it to the Alderman that he may make due redress thereoff. And this you shall not lene. So help you God"

They were responsible amongst other things of overseeing the goungfermours (night soil men). Given the barbarous sanitary arrangements in Edinburgh at the time ("crap out the window") the role may not have existed in Scotland at that time.

By mid 19th century they were responsible for overseeing and regulating the activities of totters (rag and bone), toshers (sewer scavengers), dogs droppings men, mud larks, night soil men, dustmen etc - all self employed and all classed as a form of scavenger. It must have been worse than herding cats.

*pavement in those days was used as in today's American usage - the road way.

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Guest

Thanks to all, especially centurion, for extremely interesting and vivid information. I can almost smell it smiley-fart005.gif

Mike

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dycer

Mike,

Informal but not derogatory name for dustmen,including road-sweepers, in my house,as a kid, was "Scaffie".e.g."The Scaffie is coming tomorrow,please put the bin out."

George

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Guest

Mike,

Informal but not derogatory name for dustmen,including road-sweepers, in my house,as a kid, was "Scaffie".e.g."The Scaffie is coming tomorrow,please put the bin out."

George

Of course. The 'scaffie cart'

The fighting soldiers, couldn't have been too impressed with the fact, scaffies and others, were getting bonuses?

Mike

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Piorun

As noted, Mike, the increased need for and value of certain types of "rubbish" made it more important that it was brought in. A

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Guest

As noted, Mike, the increased need for and value of certain types of "rubbish" made it more important that it was brought in. A

I understand Antony.

All sorts of measures were imposed, lighting restrictions, food controls etc, why might incentives be offered to some, doing work that was important, but no more so than others?

Mike

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centurion

I understand Antony.

All sorts of measures were imposed, lighting restrictions, food controls etc, why might incentives be offered to some, doing work that was important, but no more so than others?

Mike

It can't have been a pleasant job and with a shortage of manpower (because of so many in the forces) alternative employment would be easy to find (for example in munitions) so the bonus might have been intended simply to retain them.

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Guest

It can't have been a pleasant job and with a shortage of manpower (because of so many in the forces) alternative employment would be easy to find (for example in munitions) so the bonus might have been intended simply to retain them.

Good thinking, hadn't thought of that.

Mike

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CarylW

Found this in The Times, Saturday, May 05, 1917;

The Unemptied Dustbin. Plans For Avoiding Danger To Health.

The danger of the unemptied dustbin and the need for frequent collection of organic refuse from dwelling-houses, especially during the warmer weather, has been repeatedly urged in the Times.

In a circular letter to local authorities from the Local Government Board, Lord Rhondda says it has been pointed out to him that the collection and disposal of refuse is becoming extremely difficult, particularly because of the shortage of labour

....The reserved occupation committee, while they cannot consent to men classed A or B being retained as scavengers, intend with those exceptions to include the collection and disposal of house refuse in the next list of certified occupations

The Times, Friday, Sep 10, 1915

Economy in fuel

...In conclusion it is well to consider how closely connected is this question of the saving of fuel not only with the strict economy which the war entails, but also with public health and municipal expenditure. More care in burning all refuse and sweepings will directly affect the rates by reducing the number of medical officers of health, sanitary inspectors, scavengers, dust-carts, dust-destructors, hospitals and disinfectants,,

The Times, Friday, Jun 02, 1916

At a meeting of the City of London Corporation yesterday the Chairman of the Streets Committee stated that the watering and flushing of the streets of the City of London had been carried out as usual since the outbreak of war and they did not propose to curtail it or, as far as they could see to employ woman as scavengers

Although....

The Times, Friday, Feb 25, 1916,

In London the woman snow-sweeper made her appearance. Armed with shovel and broom she went through the suburban streets, clearing away the snow in front of the houses of those who would pay her charge. Boy scouts also came to the help of householders; but the army of casual scavengers on whom the local authorities used to rely on for the work of clearing the streets was not to be found...

The Times, Monday, May 08, 1916

Four women scavengers are employed at Chiswick, and in their new overalls are attracting much attention

...............................................................................................................................

So an important occupation

Also found a little snippet in the Times mentioning that women scavengers were employed on the streets of Berlin

Caryl

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Guest

Thanks Caryl. Excellent information.

Mike

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CarylW

Few more relating to war bonuses

The Times, Monday, Aug 19, 1918

Council Workers' War Bonus

"A strike of about 800 employees of the West Ham Town Council is in progress. A few weeks ago the council gave an increased war bonus to certain sections of their employees, making their total war bonus up to £1 5s. per week. About 800 men were not given this increase these included labourers on the tram track, scavengers and sewer men

Their bonus only amounts to £1, and their application to the council for further increase being refused, the council's Employees' Federal Council has urged them to come out on strike.The Mayor (Mr Will Thorns MP) has called a special meeting of the council for Thursday next"

"

(there is also an article bout the Manchester Scavengers' strike)

The Times, Thursday, Aug 22, 1918

"The 800 West Ham Corporation scavengers and other workers who were on strike returned to their employment yesterday on learning that the corporation propose to grant them an increase in their war bonus"

The Times, Thursday, Sep 05, 1918; pg. 3; Issue 41887; col E

Disabled Men First. Openings In Municipal Service.

Long article but one of the posts available to disabled men in the local public service was scavenger

...................................

Caryl

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grantowi

Plenty of Scavengers in the 1911 census

Grant

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Moonraker

Towards the end of the war much attention was paid to what we now call "recycling" and the monthly war diaries of Australian units in Wiltshire reported on what had been saved. And the amounts of rubbish generated by the camps taxed the local authorities and the hospital kitchens at Sutton Veny were dividing ashes, tins, paper (for burning) and broken glass and crockery for easier disposal in Warminster. Even old tea leaves were kept to help allay the dust in the corridors, and the hospital diary described as 'most reprehensible' their being discarded into refuse bins.

Moonraker

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centurion

Towards the end of the war much attention was paid to what we now call "recycling" and the monthly war diaries of Australian units in Wiltshire reported on what had been saved. And the amounts of rubbish generated by the camps taxed the local authorities and the hospital kitchens at Sutton Veny were dividing ashes, tins, paper (for burning) and broken glass and crockery for easier disposal in Warminster. Even old tea leaves were kept to help allay the dust in the corridors, and the hospital diary described as 'most reprehensible' their being discarded into refuse bins.

Moonraker

Recycling itself seems to go in cycles. Our "un green" early Victorian ancestors did a lot of recycling. The old dustmen sorted out rubbish in exactly the same way as above, and some made a lot of money selling the results. Dickens covers this (as I said) in Our Mutual Friend in the character of Noddy Boffin the Golden Dustman. Night Soil Men processed the human waste selling urine for its ammonia content and processing the solids to produce a dry fertilizer for farmers [much as is done in sewage farms today].Terry Pratchet reprises this in his Harry King "Taking the P**s since ...." Tea leaves and egg shells were valuable materials for early Victorian gardeners.The early water closets and sewers that exited into the nearest river did immense harm to this trade (and the nearest river).

This is nothing new - in Imperial Rome urine was a valuable product used for bleaching togas and the like. Indeed the Emperor Vepasian encountered much resistance from the laundry industry when he introduced the first public conveniences (at the Roman equivalent of a penny a time effectively introducing the idea of spending a penny) and diverting the flow of urine into the new sewers which exited into the nearest river (the Tiber).

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geraint

A verey late contribution!

Here, I've a newspaper reference to trusted pows being used for scaveging - in gathering acorns and conkers to be turned into charcol for use in the filtering system of gas masks! They weren't paid bonuses though.

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