Jobs for the boys

One of the most interesting areas to borrow books from at the Barbican Library is the London Collection. These books have been collected as other Libraries have discarded them to create this unique collection that tells the story from London with many old books that can be borrowed rather than looked at in a reference Library. This one I’ve borrowed has Withdrawn stamped in the cover and its previous home’s loss is the Barbican’s gain. The book I’ve borrowed is Trades for London Boys and how to enter them compiled by The Apprenticeship and Skilled Employment Association, published in 1912 by Longmans Green and Co (Offices in London, New York, Bombay and Calcutta) You would think that a book like this would long have disappeared. I had similar books in the 80’s for careers advice. Your Choice at 15+ by CRAC springs to mind. The job that caught my eye was Packing Case maker. Now I have no desire to become a Packing Case Maker but my family history research shows that several of my ancestors were. I thought it would be good to find out just what the job entailed. 1) Cutting up of the planks. Even in 1902, this is mainly done by a machine. If they are cut by hand, I’m told boys are not taken in to this department. 2)The Jointing of the wood. 3) The Nailing of the cases together. 4) Tin case making. I am told that the three departments are all quite separate. apprenticeships are not unusual and boys are taken on to train without indentures. Boys are not usually put to work until sixteen owing to the heavy nature of the work. Wages start at 6 or 7 shillings a week and the boys soon become useful. There is a trade union listed: London Wood and Tin Packing Case Makers’ Trade Society, Secretary C Hargreave, 4 St Georges Square, Forest Gate. The union has a minimum rate of 8 1/2 d. per hour and a maximum of 9 1/2d.  for wood packing case work. Tin packing cases paid slightly less. The union does not encourage piece work. The union provided an out of work benefit and superannuation allowance to its members. The hours however were 561/2 hours per week although they warn that the work might not be regular and that as much as 12 hours a week may be lost. Something that the guide does not mention as a career path seems obvious. Members of the Tasman family emigrated to Nayack in America where they took their packing case making skills and started a sideline as undertakers. I guess its another type of packing case!There are still Tasmans in that area today.

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