Those resourceful Victorians

This is Kate Summerscale, describing textile factories in Trowbridge in 1860:

in the morning the machines would start to pound and whirr, and the air would thicken with smoke, soot, the smells of urine (collected in tubs from public houses and used to scour wool) and of the vegetable dyes streaming into the river Biss.

God love Victorian ingenuity.  I wonder what was the going rate for a tub of urine . . . money really does flow freely in a pub.

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One Response to Those resourceful Victorians

  1. Melanie says:

    Doc, There is an article written by Michael Olmert “Necessary and Sufficient” in it he talks alot about the *waste management* in England as well as the U.S. in the 1700’s. My favorite excerpt from the article:

    “Between 1740 and 1763, in London, at least three businesses printed trade cards for similar work under the sign of “The Golden Pole.”
    In London, the night soil trade—also called gong farming—was so competitive that the seventeenth-century diarist John Evelyn complained about the aggressiveness of the saltpeter men, collectors of human and animal waste for use in the manufacture of explosives: “They digge in dove cotes when the doves be nesting, cast up malting floors when the malt be green, in bedchambers, in sickrooms, not even sparing women in childbed, yea, even in God’s house, the Church.”

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