Content

To Resources Home

The Scavengers' Visit

The Glasgow Scavengers were employed by the Cleansing Department of the Police Commission to manage the streets of the city. Below is an article from the North British Daily Mail, highlighting the work of of the Scavengers, published on 4 December 1869.

One house which we visited was inhabited by a very decent-looking Irishwoman and her family. Her husband worked at the wharf during the day, and she took in washing.

She lived in one of the two-storeyed houses containing one apartment. This apartment was also overcrowded, but the inmates consisted exclusively of the woman's own family. The atmosphere was very close and oppressive, and on asking her why she did not keep a little of her window open, she said she dare not open it for the stench whoch would come in from outside.

We asked her if she enjoyed good health. 'O yes', said she, 'but the childrena re sometimes bad, and I lost a fine little girl last year from a kind o'decline. She were always sick, and when the scavengers came she used to take very bad.' We asked her, did she not find any evil results from the cleansing of the middens. 'Well, surs', says she, 'it isn't pleasant, and sometimes takes my heart. But, thank God, although its twice a day, he doesn't come at meal times.'

Source: Mitchell Library, Schools' Resource on Public Health in 19th Century Glasgow