From the Watchman's box
To the editors of the Liverpool Mercury
Gentlemen, We would feel grateful if you would be pleased to insert a few lines which will vex no one, and may assist many - namely the watchmen in the employment of the Health Committee of the Liverpool Corporation. A few evenings since I was seated in my box about 11pm, and I had a bright fire burning in front of me, when three gentlemen came up the street past me, one of them making the remark as he passed, "How snug that old chap seems to be," and no doubt he believed what he said. I would therefore beg space to let the ratepayers know that we are not the pampered individuals we seem to be to the casual observer.
At a quarter to two pm we go to the yard in Brownlow St. We must attend every day, as we never know how many may be called. The roll is called, and we are told off to our various posts, leaving the yard at about quarter-past three, some having three miles to go, and carry a pair of lamps weighing nearly 20lbs. We have to be at our posts at half-past four, therefore there is no time to spare. We are relieved next morning at half-past seven, and, supposing a man is posted out at Spellow or in Walton Rd, and lives in Latimer St, the end of it that extends north of Athol St, as I for one do, we then have our lamps to take home and clean, and take up to the yard in Brownlow St, and then go back to the north-end to go to bed - Heaven save the mark! We get home about half-past nine, get a mouthful if not too jaded to eat, and go to bed at ten. Up again, if you can wake near half-past twelve, and off again, be at Brownlow St at a quarter to two, thus allowing us three or two and a half hours in bed, and from 19 to 20 hours on duty. So much for the well-cared-for pampered watchman. Is this all?
It is not, for since the winter began every night about one-third of the watchmen have no fire. New Year's night and Sunday night one-half, I believe were without a pound of coke. Where the blame rests I cannot tell. Certainly not with the ratepayers for from them there will be no deduction. I myself have been a direct ratepayer for 34 years, and three nights out of ten I have had no coke, and it took some little force to detach the lamps from the post to which they were frozen, but through the adherence of those in authority to the red-tape system, we, the watchmen, are simply starved to death. Fifteen hours in a wild, bleak yard, such as New Leeds St, without the means of getting a cup of coffee!
The fault rests somewhere. Where it is I cannot tell! Any appeal on our part is useless, those who have the power to alter things are not aware of the existence of the evil.
Liverpool, January 3, 1887
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