Monday, 8 June 2009

All Aboard!

When I was little the warning cry of 'All Aboard!' could still occasionally be heard at the railway station as the guard went along from carriage to carriage shutting the doors. It is one of many cries that have disappeared from our streets over the years. In the 19th century the cry of 'Two o'clock and all's well' would echo around the city streets as the night watchman patrolled. But that was a bit before even my time! GB remembers the ice cram bicycle that came around the streets tinkling its bell but that must have disappeared when he was young because I don't remember it at all. And ice cream is hardly likely to be something I would have forgotten if he had still been coming around!.

Along our road the clip clop of a horse's hooves and the shout of 'Any old iron!' would presage the arrival of the rag and bone man collecting any rubbish of which the householder wanted rid. Effectively an early form of recycling he would sell or mend things while the householder, most of whom did not have a car, was saved the difficulty of taking things to the rubbish dump. The cry usually came out as something like 'Neeeyyn' but I'm reliably assured it was supposed to be 'An old iron?' By the time the rag and bone man stopped coming down our road he had degenerated to pushing an old pram and the horse, like those of the coal man had disappeared. No more rushing out to collect the manure for the roses.

The knife grinder was another man who came along from street to street with his bicycle. The back wheel lifted off the ground and the pedals then powered the grindstone as he sharpened knives, shears and so on. And he is credited with the cry 'Knives to grind' but so far as I can recall he didn't shout in our road - he knocked at each door individually.

Can anyone else recall street cries that they don't hear nowadays?

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