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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Before Alarm Clocks Was Invented, This How People Wake Others For Work

Before alarm clocks, people were employed to wake workers up with a long stick

Have you ever wondered how deep sleepers managed to get to work on time before the advent of alarm clocks?
Well, before smartphones, snooze buttons and alarm clocks, there were actually people employed to go around and wake people up by rapping on their windows.

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Called a ‘knocker-up’ (also known as knocker-uppers), they used to be a common sight on the streets of Britain and Ireland in the early 1900s, particularly in the northern mill towns and London, where people worked early shifts.

Knocker-uppers tended to use a long, thin pole to rap on upper windows, although soft hammers, rattles and even pea shooters were also tools of the trade.

Before alarm clocks, people were employed to wake workers up with a long stick
A knocker-upper wakes up her paying customers circa 1900 (Picture: Past Pix/SSPL/Getty Images)
And there was no snoozing allowed. The knocker-upper wouldn’t move on until the worker appeared at the window to confirm they were up.

‘They used to come down the street with their big, long poles,’ Paul Stafford, a 59-year-old artist who was raised above a shop in Oldham,’ told the BBC. ‘I would sleep with my brother in the back room upstairs and my parents slept in the front.
 ‘[The knocker upper] wouldn’t hang around either, just three or four taps and then he’d be off. We never heard it in the back, though it used to wake my father in the front.’

Before alarm clocks, people were employed to wake workers up with a long stick
The knocker-up, circa 1915 (Picture: Past Pix/SSPL/Getty Images)
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The trade had largely died out by the 1940s and 50s, with the spread of electricity and affordable alarm clocks.

Although, of course, parents still act as unofficial knocker-uppers for their teenage offspring to this day.
Because iPhones are great – but nothing gets you up faster than an angry mum hammering on the bedroom door.

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