A Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921.
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970.—General Labourers or Other Unskilled Workers (not elsewhere enumerated)

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ash wheeler, ashes wheeler, ash bank fairy, ash labourer, ash man, ash pit cleaner, ash pit collector, ash trimmer ; coal and ash wheeler, cinderman, cinder getter, cinder wheeler, gas pitman, mucker (salt works), slack wheeler, tipper
a labourer employed in works, rolling mills, etc.; rakes out or shovels ashes from ash pits and fires into barrows; wheels away barrows and tips them on ash dump; removes flue dirt and soot from boiler chambers.
ballast burner
bums clay to form slag in heaps for roadway or building purposes or on railway, etc., embankments; piles clay with shovel in a heap, mixing in proportion of crushed coal; erects boarding in relation to wind to cause forced draught; watches burning and tends heap with shovel, as necessary, to ensure complete combustion.
barrow man (not hawker)
as for trolley man.
bill deliverer, bill distributor
delivers bills, circulars, etc., from house to house in a prescribed area; distributes bills to passers-by in streets, etc., according to instructions received from superintendent of bill distributors (961) q.v.
block boy (scavenging)
a street orderly boy q.v. who does scavenging work in or around a block of buildings or section of roadway.
board carrier, boardman
see sandwichman.
bottle washer, bottle rinser ; bottle cleaner
(i) (chemical works, etc.) soaks bottles in tanks of water; brushes interiors and exteriors of bottles with a bottle brush by hand; rinses bottles in tanks containing clean water; places in racks in drying chamber;
(ii) (beer bottling) places bottles in tray, lowers tray into galvanized water tanks or places bottles in a wheel which, revolving by its own weight, i.e. loaded with bottles, carries bottles through water contained, in tank at base of wheel; brushes interiors and exteriors of bottles by means of electrically-driven revolving brushes; rinses interiors by injecting jets of clean water into inverted necks of bottles.
breeze wheeler (gas works)
shovels clinker and breeze from water trough below furnace doors into barrow; wheels them away and tips them on dump; fills trough with water as required.
chain bearer, chain carrier, chain man
carries chain, staff and level for surveyor in road, estate, mine, etc., surveying; holds end of chain, to mark during measurement; holds staff while surveyor takes levels with level or theodolite.
chairer (railway sleepers)
carries "chairs'' and places in position on sleepers ready for platelayers (577) q.v.; may also bolt chair home and otherwise assist platelayer.
cinderman, cinder getter, cinder wheeler
see ash wheeler.
cleaner, airgrate (drainage)
brushes daily air gratings on drainage system and keeps them free from obstruction.
cleaner, berth
removes weeds, silt, etc., from shore adjoining wharves, with rake and shovel.
cleaner, boiler house
assists fireman (951) q.v. in boiler house by shovelling or raking out cinders from ash it and wheeling in barrow to cinder heap; sweeps walls and floors of boiler house; wheels coal from coal house to boiler.
cleaner, bottle
see bottle washer.
cleaner, dairy vessel
scalds and washes, with boiling water or over steam jet, milk cans, churns, and other utensils used in milk distribution.
cleaner, drum and barrel
rolls empty drums and barrels to cleaning shed; inserts nozzle of flexible iron pipe into bung hole and admits steam by opening valve; rolls drum over drainage channel where hot surplus oil is drained away.
cleaner, engine room
cleans polished metal surfaces of engine room rails, etc., with rag and polish; sweeps up floor and assists engineer or engine driver (950) generally.
cleaner (factory floor), floor cleaner
sweeps out daily and washes or scrubs periodically factory floors before arrival or after departure of workers.
cleaner (grain milling)
cleans silk sieving cylinders of flour milling machines every few hours while in motion, using a hand brush; brushes flour from outside of machine and sweeps up floors.
cleaner, gulley ; gulley man
sweeps, cleans and flushes gulleys and drains in and around factories, works or other buildings.
cleaner (polish)
wipes clean with rag, tins or bottles after they have been filled with polish, black lead, etc.
cleaner, road
see sweeper.
cleaner, sack (milling)
(i) shakes sacks by hand to empty out any residue of previous contents, ready for re-use;
(ii) shakes sacks by machinery of varying types, e.g. puts sack on machine, pulls lever causing sack to be pulled inside out, removes sack and shakes it by hand; or, puts sack in slot of machine which cleanses it by means of beaters; or, places a number of sacks in revolving wire cage.
cleaner, tile (electric railway)
washes glazed tiles at electric railway stations; occupational term obsolete; now graded as porter (706) q.v.
cleaner, tip (coal wharf)
sweeps with brush and keeps bearings of coal tip free from accumulations of coal dust.
cleaner, yard ; yard labourer, yardman, yard scavenger, yardsman, yard sweeper
sweeps up and (if necessary) washes down yards of factories, works, and other buildings; cleans gulleys (see cleaner, gulley); generally does other unskilled work in yard, e.g. loading and unloading vans.
coal and ash wheeler
see ash wheeler.
coal heaver, coal bagger, coal bag filler
fills coal from trucks or stacks into bags; weighs sack on weighing machine; assists coalman q.v. to carry sacks of coal from coal yard or weighing machine to coal cart.
coal man
loads bags or sacks of coal into coal cart or trolley; drives a horse and cart or trolley, and sometimes hawks and sells sacks of coal in street; carries sacks of coal from cart to house cellar; cf. coal man (776).
coal porter ; coal wharf man
one of a gang of men engaged in unloading coal from barges; conveys it in baskets or sacks to weighing room, at gas works, factories, etc.; may also trim coal for grab, or push coal truck to tip and back empty to coal hopper; cf. coal porter (759).
coal screener (not at colliery)
screens or sifts dust from high grade coal, in coal yards, by shovelling against wire sieves, or by loading coal into automatic screening machine.
coal weigher from stack (gas works)
weighs trams (or tubs) of coal filled at coal stack on their way to crushing house and/or from thence to retort house, or boiler house.
coal wharf man
see coal porter.
collector (waste)
collects waste material from factories, business and private houses, etc.; is usually a van driver (719) or hawker (777) q.v.; cf. tatter, punter (waste).
drainman (local authority)
removes silt from trap of surface water drain with long-handled scoop; keeps drains, gratings, clear of leaves, etc.; sometimes also flushes drains; cf. sewer flusher; usually a corporation labourer q.v.
dung boy
see street orderly boy.
dust sifter ; salvage labourer
searches with a long rake among dust and refuse a/t refuse dump for marketable waste, e.g. bones, metal, rags, etc.; in same way salves marketable waste from picking belt of dust destructor.
flusher, road flusher
cleans roads and asphalt pavings by flushing with hose from street hydrant; squeegees surface water to nearest drain with long-handled squeegee; usually a corporation labourer q.v.
flusher, sewer flusher
flushes road drains and sewers with water from water cart using liquid or powdered disinfectant; usually a corporation labourer q.v.
gas pitman
see ash wheeler.
grain weigher (elevator)
weighs, checks and records weight of gram in sacks before removal to elevator.
greaser (cold storage)
oils and greases machinery in connection with refrigerating plant; may also take and record temperature in cold storage chambers.
gulley man
see cleaner, gulley.
see roofman.
horse auctioneer's runner
runs horses about at sales, markets, etc., for auctioneer, in order to exhibit their points to possible purchasers.
jar washer
as for bottle washer.
labourer, advertising
parades streets with trucks bearing advertisement boards; distributes bills or samples in streets or at houses and shops.
labourer, aquarium
cleans tanks oi other vessels holding specimens of aquatic plants or animals or fish; changes water, etc., at stated periods, does cleaning or any heavy work in aquarium as required; cf. aquarium attendant (989).
labourer, auctioneer's
arranges goods for inspection prior to sale, according to catalogue number; assists in handling goods before, during, and after sale.
labourer, barrack
does general labouring work in military barracks for H.M. Office of Works; carries coal and fuel; moves furniture; sweeps yards and floors generally.
labourer, beach
scavenges beach on sea shore; removes rotting seaweed; loads shingle into carts; repairs groynes; usually a corporation labourer q.v.
labourer, boiler house
an ash wheeler q.v. working in boiler house of factory or works; cf. boiler house cleaner.
labourer, coal yard
a general labourer in coal yard, does coal heaving, screening, loading and unloading as required.
labourer, corporation
general term for any worker employed by local authorities, on night or day work in connection with roads, beach, markets, parks, cemeteries, sewage farms, drainage, dust destruction, etc., sweeping, cleaning, refuse collecting or destroying, drain flushing, sewage spreading, etc.; sometimes further designated according to work on which employed, e.g. beach labourer, cemetery labourer, destructor labourer, lairage labourer, market labourer, park labourer, sanitary labourer, sewage disposal labourer, sewer labourer; and includes drainman, flusher, market sweeper, night soil man, road flusher, road cleaner, road sweeper, scavenger, sewer man, sewer flusher, sewage nightman q.v.
labourer, dockyard
loads and unloads vans, trucks and trolleys in dockyard; carries stores; sweeps and keeps clean yards, floors of buildings, etc.; does general labouring work.
labourer, goux
(Halifax, Huddersfield); a night soil man q.v. who, at night, takes away full receptacles from earth closets and replaces with empty ones on a specified round; takes receptacles in covered lorry to canal, where soil is emptied into sewage barge; packs bottoms of empty receptacle with waste obtained from woollen mills; so named after inventor of system, M. Goux.
labourer, icehouse
carries on shoulder or wheels in truck goods in and out of ice-house; cleans walls and floors; sweeps up dirty sawdust and scatters fresh.
labourer, laboratory
cleans utensils used in experimental work; assists in preparing and clearing away after experiments; carries acid carboys; grinds up materials in mortar with pestle; sets up glass tubing; cleans shelves, benches, and floors of laboratory.
labourer, landsale
a coal heaver q.v. working at landsale depot of a colliery.
labourer, salvage
see dust sifter.
labourer, yard
(i) see cleaner, yard;
(ii) (iron and steel works) loads, unloads, stacks, etc., ore, coke, etc., in yard; sweeps, cleans, and does other labouring work as required in yard.
lime mixer
works lever to pump sludge into mixing tank at sewage disposal works; tips in bag of lime and cement; operates and controls machinery which cuts up and mixes sludge; opens trap to run mixture into a ramming tank; admits compressed air by opening valve and so pumps sludge to press.
loam wheeler
wheels loam in wheelbarrow about foundry from railway wagon to grinding well, from well to mixer (183) and from mixer to moulder; usually also shovels loam out of wagon into barrow; may also assist loam moulder (180) q.v. in building up moulds, cleaning up sand, etc.
machine attendant (Port of London)
greases, oil and cleans with waste, working machinery at Port, e.g. cranes, lockgates, windlasses, engines.
mucker (salt works)
see ash wheeler.
night soil man, sewage nightman
empties cesspools and sewage sumps at night into a sewage tank cart, working a hand pump; usually a corporation labourer q.v. pot washer, as for bottle washer.
press attendant, press house attendant, pressman (sewage disposal) ; sludge presser
assembles steel plates in press and adjusts press cloths; turns a wheel to tighten press; opens press and removes cakes of sludge; changes press cloths when necessary; usually operates two or more presses; may also do work of lime mixer q.v.
punter (waste)
a collector (waste) q.v. who collects with a horse and cart, as distinct from tatter q.v.
refuse destructor man
does general work about refuse destruction works, attending to elevator, hoppers, furnaces, etc.; removes slag from furnaces, wheels and stacks slabs in yard, assists in tipping dust carts, sweeps up refuse around yard and plant.
roofman ; gutterman
sweeps roofs and removes dirt and other obstruction from guttering, rain pipes, etc., of large buildings.
sand wheeler
as for loam wheeler.
sandwichman ; board carrier, boardman
parades streets with advertisement boards suspended from shoulders (and is thus sandwiched between two boards); sometimes also carries special framework supported on shoulders for displaying advertisements over head.
see sweeper.
sewerman (sanitation)
patrols at intervals sections of the main sewers, especially during periods of heavy rainfall, to clear away with rake and shovel any obstructions to the sewer flow; adjusts sluices and uses hose connected to hydrants underground, to flush certain sections; ensures that flow from one level to another is unimpeded.
slack wheeler
see ash wheeler.
sludge presser
see press attendant (sewage disposal).
straw baler
presses loose straw by means of hand baling machine, into compact bundles or bales for storing or distribution, in hand or power press.
street orderly boy ; dung boy
a road sweeper q.v. who keeps streets clean and tidy by collecting refuse in pan, with hand brush, and removing it to receptacles placed in thoroughfares for this purpose; also uses squeegee on roads after being flushed with water, or after rain; usually a corporation labourer q.v.
sweeper, sweeper-up ; scavenger
sweeps dust, dung, waste paper, leaves, etc., from surface of road or street and pavement, into heaps at side of road with broom; or sweeps up dust, scraps waste, etc. on floors of mills, factories or workshops; may remove dust, etc., in hand barrow; sometimes specifically designated, e.g. crossing sweeper, market sweeper, road sweeper, shed sweeper, shop sweeper, street sweeper, swarf sweeper (metal filings), yard sweeper.
tape boy (surveying)
carries tape and holds it in position for surveyor in measuring land, etc.
a collector (waste) q.v. who collects with a hand-pushed barrow or cart as distinct from punter q.v.
see ash wheeler.
trolleyman, trolley boy
pushes a trolley on wheels, for conveying articles in process of manufacture, from one department to another in factory or warehouse.
as for trolleyman.
yard boy
as for yard man.
yardman, yardsman, yard scavenger
(i) see cleaner, yard;
(ii) (brewery) also weighs malt and does any work in brewery yard.

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From: A Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921,
Ministry of Labour, 1927. Digitised by Peter Christian, August, 2016.   This text is in the Public Domain.