London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street-Buyers of Hogs'--Wash.


THE trade in hogs'--wash, or in the refuse of the table, is by no means insignificant. The streetbuyers are of the costermonger class, and some of them have been costermongers, and "when not kept going regular on wash," I was told, are "costers still," but with the advantage of having donkeys, ponies, or horses and carts, and frequently shops, as the majority of the wash-buyers have; for they are often greengrocers as well as costermongers.

The hogs' food obtained by these street-folk, or, as I most frequently heard it called, the "wash," is procured from the eating-houses, the coffee-houses which are also eating-houses (with "hot joints from to "), the hotels, the clubhouses, the larger mansions, and the public institutions. It is composed of the scum and less of all broths and soups; of the washings of cooking utensils, and of the dishes and plates used at dinners and suppers; of small pieces of meat left on the plates of the diners in taverns, clubs, or cook-shops; of pieces of potato, or any remains of vegetables; of any viands, such as puddings, left in the plates in the same manner; of gristle; of pieces of stale bread, or bread left at table; occasionally of meat kept, whether cooked or uncooked, until "blown," and unfit for consumption ( man told me that he had found whole legs of mutton in the wash he bought from a great eating-house, but very rarely): of potatopeelings; of old and bad potatoes; of "stock," or the remains of meat stewed for soup, which was not good enough for sale to be re-used by the poor; of parings of every kind of cheese or meat; and of the many things which are considered "only fit for pigs."

It is not always, however, that the unconsumed food of great houses or of public bodies (where the dinners are a part of the institution) goes to the wash-tub. At Buckingham-palace, I am told, it is given to poor people who have tickets for the receipt of it. At Lincoln's-inn the refuse or leavings of the bar dinners are sold to men who retail them, usually small chandlers, and the poor people, who have the means, buy this broken meat very readily at , , and the pound, which is cheap for good cooked meat. Pie-crust, obtained by its purveyors in the same way, is sold, perhaps with a small portion of the contents of the pie, in penny and twopenny-worths. A man familiar with this trade told me that among the best customers for this kind of -hand food were women of the town of the poorer class, who were always ready, whenever they had a few pence at command, to buy what was tasty, cheap, and ready-cooked, because "they hadn't no trouble with it, but only just to eat it."

of the principal sources of the "wash" supply is the cook-shops, or eating-houses, where the "leavings" on the plates are either the perquisites of the waiters or waitresses, or looked sharply after by master or mistress. There are also in these places the remains of soups, and the potato-peelings, &c., of which I have spoken, together with the keen appropriation to a profitable use of every crumb and scrap—when it is a portion of the gains of a servant, or when it adds to the receipts of the proprietor. In calculating the purchase-value of the good--will of an eatinghouse, the "wash" is as carefully considered as is the number of daily guests.

of the principal street-buyers from the eating-houses, and in several parts of town, is Jemmy Divine, of . He is a pig-dealer, but also sells his wash to others who keep pigs. He sends round a cart and horse under the care of a boy, or of a man, whom he may have employed, or drives it himself, and he often has more carts than . In his cart are or tubs, well secured, so that they may not be jostled out, into which the wash is deposited. He contracts by the week, month, or quarter, with hotel-keepers and others, for their wash, paying from to as high as a year, about being an average for well-frequented taverns and "dining-rooms." The wash-tubs on the premises of these buyers are often offensive, sometimes sending forth very sour smells.

In Sharp's-alley, , is another man buying quantities of wash, and buying fat and


grease extensively. There is also in Prince'sstreet, , who makes it his sole business to collect hogs'--wash; he was formerly a coalheaver and wretchedly poor, but is now able to make a decent livelihood in this trade, keeping a pony and cart. He generally keeps about pigs, but also sells hogs' food retail to any pigkeeper, the price being to a pail-full, according to the quality, as the collectors are always anxious to have the wash "rich," and will not buy it if cabbage-leaves or the parings of green vegetables form a part of it. This man and the others often employ lads to go round for wash, paying them a week, and finding them in board. They are the same class of boys as those I have described as coster-boys, and are often strong young fellows. These lads—or men hired for the purpose—are sometimes sent round to the smaller cook-shops and to private houses, where the wash is given to them for the trouble of carrying it away, in preference to its being thrown down the drain. Sometimes only a pail is paid by the streetbuyer, provided the stuff be taken away punctually and regularly. These youths or men carry pails after the fashion of a milkman.

The supply from the workhouses is very large. It is often that the paupers do not eat all the rice-pudding allowed, or all the bread, while soup is frequently left, and potatoes; and these leavings are worthless, except for pig-meat, as they would soon turn sour. It is the same, though not to the same extent, in the prisons.

What I have said of some of the larger eatinghouses relates also to the club-houses.

There are a number of wash-buyers in the suburbs, who purchase, or obtain their stock gratuitously, at gentlemen's houses, and retail it either to those who feed pigs as a business, or else to the many, I was told, who live a little way out of town, and "like to grow their own bacon." Many of these men perform the work themselves, without a horse and cart, and are on their feet every day and all day long, except on Sundays, carrying hogs'--wash from the seller, or to the buyer. man, who had been in this trade at Woolwich, told me that he kept pigs at time, but ceased to do so, as his customers often murmured at the thin quality of the wash, declaring that he gave all the best to his own animals.

If it be estimated that there are men daily buying hogs'--wash in London and the suburbs, within miles, and that each collects only pails per day, paying per pail (thus allowing for what is collected without purchase), we find expended annually in buying hogs'--wash.

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 Title Page
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals
Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and Natural Curiosities
Of the Street-Buyers
Of the Street-Jews
Of the Street-Finders or Collectors
Of the Streets of London
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Sweepers of Old, and the Climbing Boys
Of the Chimney-Sweepers of the Present Day
Of the General Characteristics of the Working Chimney-Sweepers
Sweeping of the Chimneys of Steam-Vessels
Of the 'Ramoneur' Company
Of the Brisk and Slack Seasons, and the Casual Trade among the Chimney- Sweepers
Of the 'Leeks' Among the Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Inferior Chimney-Sweepers -- the 'Knullers' and 'Queriers'
Of the Fires of London
Of the Sewermen and Nightmen of London
Of the Wet House-Refuse of London
Of the Means of Removing the Wet House-Refuse
Of the Quantity of Metropolitan Sewage
Of Ancient Sewers
Of the Kinds and Characteristics of Sewers
Of the Subterranean Character of the Sewers
Of the House-Drainage of the Metropolis as Connected With the Sewers
Of the London Street-Drains
Of the Length of the London Sewers and Drains
Of the Cost of Constructing the Sewers and Drains of the Metropolis
Of the Uses of Sewers as a Means of Subsoil Drainage
Of the City Sewerage
Of the Outlets, Ramifications, Etc., of the Sewers
Of the Qualities, Etc., of the Sewage
Of the New Plan of Sewerage
Of the Management of the Sewers and the Late Commissions
Of the Powers and Authority of the Present Commissions of Sewers
Of the Sewers Rate
Of the Cleansing of the Sewers -- Ventilation
Of 'Flushing' and 'Plonging,' and Other Modes of Washing the Sewers
Of the Working Flushermen
Of the Rats in the Sewers
Of the Cesspoolage and Nightmen of the Metropolis
Of the Cesspool System of London
Of the Cesspool and Sewer System of Paris
Of the Emptying of the London Cesspools by Pump and Hose
Statement of a Cesspool-Sewerman
Of the Present Disposal of the Night-Soil
Of the Working Nightmen and the Mode of Work