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The public health report for Bacup of 1849 paints a horryfying picture of the Bacup our ancestors lived in. There was at the time of the report no official authorities, apart from the gas company and the police and so therefore no restrictions or rules on what housing stands for example should be. Most of the houses were constructed of stone which was readily availablle. If you had working class ancestors living  Victorian or Edwardian Bacup the chances are they would have lived in one of the many terraced back to back one up one down houses that are still to be seen today the majority of these houses had two bedrooms and sometimes a attic. Downstairs there would be the living room and scullery and quite often a cellar. Some houses consisted of only one room and were commonly known as cellar dwellings. Accommodating families from two to six persons and in some cases not all of the same family. In 1849 there were 26 cellar dwellings this had risen by 1895 to 255 cellar dwellings 152 of these were occupied by families and 130 0f these were empty. Even so overcrowding was a huge problem. With no real sanitation provision  the roads, pathways and courtyards were often filthy with human waste. A report in the newspaper of 1865 stated that the paths are filthy as ever and the roads monstrous. Many of the streets lived in by our ancestors were built  on land  close to the various mills in Bacup and Stacksteads, by the mill owners and whilst the mills may have gone now, the streets still remain although many have now been demolished to make way for new buildings Many young couples got married and lived with their in-laws because they couldn't afford home of their own. These were the days when the mills started at 6.30 am and as some people had difficulty getting up they paid for the " Knocker up" to wake them. This he did using a long pole with which he tapped on the bedroom window calling out to you the time and waiting until he had an answer or saw the gas or candle light go on.The floors of lots of houses had no floor covering so sand was scattered on the stone floor and after it had been walked on for a period it was brushed off which left the stone clean. The vast majority of houses followed the same rule. During the week until Saturday the following decorated the fireplace. a Fender with e irons, a tidy betty to cover the ash pit under the fire, and a top bar, all of which needed cleaning by a method known as black leading. Saturday dinner all these were taken up and replaced with ones whose surface was brass and looked much posher. The round table legs were covered all week with the legs from woollen stockings., the feet of which had worn out, were uncovered. A chenille tablecloth was used as a table cover when meals were over  instead of a patterned America cloth one and a carpet square was laid on the floor for the weekend. The process was reversed before going to bed again on Sunday night. All the best shoes were cleaned and put away for another week. Kids from the poorer parts of Bacup such as Irwell Street and King Street ran around in bare feet during the summer months. Most lads and lasses where there were elder brothers and sisters wore their cast off's and it was common to see lads running around in pants just below knee length when the fashion was above the knee. Clogs were the footwear except on Saturday and Sunday afternoons when shoes or boots were worn. When the boot soles were worn out the uppers were taken to the Cloggers were a wooden clog sole was reattached. These examples come for the time just after the first world war when wages were low and unemployment high. Money was very short and with no National health service or National assistance, Unemployment benefit or free doctor care. Things could seem very bleak.
Knocker Upper. Shaking out the rug.
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