The Knocker Uppers

to knock = bussare
(to be) up = essere in piedi (non più a letto)

knocker upper = colui o colei che ti bussa alla porta o alla finestra per svegliarti in tempo utile per andare al lavoro.

We often say that history teaches and this is true of course as long as people are prepared to learn. But history can also be quite simply fascinating at times. As we move forward in our technological frenzy it is sometimes almost impossible to imagine what life must have been like before some of the inventions that today are considered so obvious that they are not even worthy of our attention anymore. Take the alarm clock, for example. What was life like before the invention of the alarm clock? How did people in the industrialised cities of the late 19th century get to work on time?

Well, towards the end of the 19th century and well into the first half of the 20th century, the responsibility for getting people out of bed in time for work was left to the “Knocker Uppers”. The knocker upper’s job was to walk the city streets knocking on the bedroom windows of the workers in order to get them out of bed and to the workplace on time. Some of these knocker uppers, such as Mary Smith of Limehouse in London, eventually became quite famous. But let’s leave the details to this fascinating article on the BBC’s website:

Knocker Uppers

Waking up the workers in industrial Britain

Author: Tony

Born and raised in Malaysia between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Educated at Wycliffe College in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, England. Living in the foothills of Mount Etna since 1982 and teaching English at Catania University since 1987.

8 thoughts on “The Knocker Uppers”

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Giovanna. Yes, it’s quite extraordinary to imagine something like that today!

      1. We rarely think about such things, but this tells us we should.
        Thanks Professor!

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