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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Jobs after leaving school


Rob Powell
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I am interested to know what the typical job was a school leaver would do. This would obviously vary for geographical location and I just read an article about 53% of boys becoming milk boys. What, what is a milk boy to warrant 53% of them doing that job. Also what age were kids leaving school then?

 

ps: Apologies if I have posted this in the wrong section!

 

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I assume you're asking about WW1 time. AFAIK, in those days, milk would arrive by horse and cart and the boy's job would be taking the milk, doled out by the man or woman in the cart to the required amount, to the individual houses. It involved a lot of running! I can't see it occupying anywhere near 53 percent of boys though. The boys might be 12 years old.

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My Grandfather was a milk boy for a short while his job consisted of walking two miles from the farm to the shop with two wooden two gallon buckets suspended by a wooden yolk, the whole lot must have weighed nearly 50 pounds.

His career came to an end when he was set upon by two young men, who deliberately spilled all the milk, for which my Grandfather despite his bruises had to pay.

He went to work in a brickyard after that, before running away to sea.

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A lot of boys would have followed in their fathers footsteps. For instance. cotton mills.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for your responses and a great story T8hants that helped me picture it well. There must of been a lot walking in those days between work and employment law was not on the workers side.

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My first job was working for Pybus the grocery chain as a delivery boy

I lasted exactly one week started on the Monday, sacked on the Friday morning 

for messing about with the bacon slicer

 

 

 

 

Now how was I to know, she was the bosses daughter

Regards Ray

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Researching Irish servicemen I see time and time again in census returns the stated profession as Agricultural Labourer. Many would be working the family farm I guess.

 

Dave

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As for the rural existence, I have researched a few villages in Hampshire that in the early 1900s, were populated by a few thousand people, who lived and worked in close, rural harmony. Their relatively isolated lives centred on a number of farms, the various aspects of farming, and on the supporting hierarchy of trades necessary to sustain these relatively autonomous communities. There was also a substantial landowner's estate that employed many people; on the land and as servants, cooks etc, and there were  a variety of shops. In these communities, families inter-married and there are various strands in different villages with the same surname. That said, brides and bridegrooms sometimes came from afar, including the nearest city and even Ireland.

 

These villages lost 40 men in WW1 and their trades are perhaps typical. Four of the officers and five soldiers/sailors were regular members of the Army or RN. Five officers and two soldiers had no recorded job, as they left school after the 1911 census and enlisted at a young age. Otherwise, there was a gentleman's servant, a gardener, an estate labourer, a groom, five farm workers, a woodmen, a cowman, three shepherds, two bricklayers, a postman, a carpenter and a blacksmith. Working farm horses featured largely and the men included five carters/under-carters/dray-men. These chaps were often posted to the artillery or service corps that used such horses, where their experience was useful. Similarly, suitable tradesmen went to the Royal Engineers.

 

City and town communities would be very different.

 

Acknown

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I would have thought it unlikely that anyone working on a family farm would not use the description farm labourer. Although others may 'know different'.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Most working-class children would have left school at fourteen.  Only after WW2 was it raised to fifteen, and eventually to sixteen in my lifetime.

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Milk boys would be employed in the dairy,assisting with the milking and primitive processing of milk....little pasturisation in those days,fresh milk was usually run over baffles to promote cooling....filling the churns....loading churns on the the milk float....in those days there was no mechanisation such as a bottling plant and the retailer ladled out imperial quantities for each customer in turn on his milk round.

 

In the coalfields,young boys would have employment on the pit top screens and underground as "Haulage Hands"..... leading horses for hauling filled off tubs from the coalface to the pit bottom....not usual to find women being employed on the screens.....pulling bats off the conveyor belts feeding the screens.

 

Coal mining manpower peaked about 1910...domestic service also being the main source of employment of women at the time

  

Young boys, as said, were found working on farms,looking after horses and stabling together with the sowing of crops and harvesting in the days when there were almost no mechanisation. Not unusual to find almost the entire male population of villages employed on the local estate owner's farms and living in tied housing..... occupations described in census returns as "Agricultural Labourers" some living in.From census records,I saw my Great Grandfather building up an Exmoor farm to 300 acres before the end of the 19th century with increases,census by census in Agricultural Labourer strength.(I note the farm had an employee living in with the occupation detailed as a  "Rabbit Trapper" as returned by a government wartime survey in the autumn of 1939.)

 

Most hotels and similar establishments had stables fotural  visitors....young men were employed to carry out duties in assisting the ostler.

  

Cotton mills and Woolen mills must have been another source of employment for young boys...extensive in Lancashire and the Heavy Wollen District in the Yorkshire West Riding.Industrial transport development saw young boys  employed on the canal network.

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