Were you ever woken up by a tapping at your window? Were any of your relatives knocker-uppers? More importantly, who knocked the knocker-upper up?
In the early 1900s, they were a common sight. Back when alarm clocks were neither cheap nor reliable, a knocker-upper would use a baton or a long bamboo stick to knock on workers’ doors and windows.
They would begin as early as 3am and, unlike the ‘snooze’ button on an alarm clock, a knocker-upper would not leave a client’s doorstep until they were certain that they had awoken: in those days, it was difficult to be late for work!
The Spring Chicken community have been reminiscing on their knocker-uppers:
“Every day in the 40’s and 50’s, a knocker-upper would get my dad up for work. Clocks were a luxury item!”
“We had a knocker-upper until 1966. She came in hail, rain, snow, or fog.”
“My Grandad was a knocker-upper.”
Or perhaps you didn’t have one?
“At our home, that was the rooster’s job!”
Originally, the public complained of being disturbed by loud rapping or ringing, so the knocker-uppers modified a long stick that tapped loud enough to rouse those intended, but softly enough to not disturb anyone else. In return for their duties, the knocker-uppers were paid a few pence a week.
With the abundance of electricity and affordable alarm clocks, the trade had largely declined by the 50s. Nevertheless, we still remember this tongue twister:
We had a knocker-up, and our knocker-up had a knocker-up
And our knocker-up’s knocker-up didn’t knock our knocker up
So our knocker-up didn’t knock us up
‘Cos he’s not up.