London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2
Of the Street-Sellers of Sand.
kinds of sand only are sold in the streets, scouring or floor sand, and bird sand for birds. In scouring sand the trade is inconsiderable to what it was, saw-dust having greatly superseded it in the gin-palace, the tap-room, and the butcher's shop. Of the supply of sand, a man, who was working at the time on Hampstead-heath, gave the following account:—"I've been employed here for -and- years, under Sir Thomas Wilson. Times are greatly changed, sir; we used to have from to carts a day hawking sand, and taking or men to fill them every morning; besides large quantities which went to brass-founders, and for cleaning dentists' cutlery, for stone-sawing, lead and silver casting, and such like. This heath, sir, contains about every kind of sand, but Sir Thomas won't allow us to dig it. The greatest number of carts filled now is or a day, which I fill myself. Sir Thomas has raised the price from to a load, of about tons. Bless you, sir, some years ago, might go into St. Luke's, and sell or cart-loads of housesand a week; now, a man may roar himself hoarse, and not sell a load in a fortnight. Sawdust is used in all the public-houses and ginpalaces. People's sprung up who don't use sand at all; and many of the old people are too poor to buy it. The men who get sand here now are old customers, who carry it all over the town, and round Holloway, , and such parts. year ago I would have taken here or in a morning, to-day I have only taken Fine weather is greatly against the sale of house-sand; in wet, dirty weather, the sale is greater."
street sand-seller gave the following account of his calling:—
The yellow house-sand is also found at Kingsland, and at the Kensington Gravel-pits; but at the latter place street-sellers are not supplied. The sand here is very fine, and mostly disposed of to plasterers. There is also some of this kind of sand at Wandsworth. In the street-selling of house-sand, there are now not above men employed, and few of these trade on their own account. Reckoning the horses and carts employed in the trade at the same price as our Camden-town informant sets on his stock, we have horses, at each, and carts, at each, with baskets to each, at apiece, making a total of of capital employed in the carrying machinery of the street-selling of sand. Allowing a day for each man, the wages would amount for men to weekly; and the expenses for horses' keep, at a head, would give, for horses, weekly, making a total of weekly, or an annual expenditure for man and horse of Calculating the sale at a load per day, for each horse and cart, at a load, we have annually expended in the purchase of house or floor-sand.
or the fine and dry sand required for the use of cage-birds, is now obtained altogether of a market gardener in Hackney. It is sold at the barrow-load; as much being shovelled on to a coster's barrow "as it will carry." A good-sized barrow holds bushels; a smaller size, bushels, and the buyer is also the shoveller. -fourths of the quantity conveyed by the street-sellers from Hackney is sold to the bird-shop keepers at for pecks. The remainder is disposed of to such customers as purchase it in the street, or is delivered at private houses, which receive a regular supply. The usual charge to the general public is a halfpenny or a penny for sand to fill any vessel brought to contain it. A penny a gallon is perhaps an average price in this retail trade.
A man, "in a good way of business," disposes of a barrow-load once a week; the others once a fortnight. In wet or windy weather great care is necessary, and much trouble incurred in supplying this sand to the street-sellers, and again in their vending it in the streets. The street-vendors are the same men as supply the turf, &c., for cagebirds, of whom I have treated, p. , vol. i. They are in number, and although they do not all supply sand, a matter beyond the strength of the old and infirm, a few costermongers convey a barrow-load of sand now and then to the birdsellers, and this addition ensures the weekly supply of barrow-loads. Calculating these at the wholesale, or bird-dealer's price— a barrow being an average—we find yearly expended in this sand. What is vended at costs but at the wholesale price; but the profit is hardly earned considering the labour of wheeling a heavy barrow of sand for miles, and the trouble of keeping over night what is unsold during the day.