Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Chairs to mend!! The Old Cry of London

Lovely Leanne my blogging friend sent this great bit of text to me about the old chair menders of London, I wanted to share it with you.

"CHAIRS TO MEND!" By Alexander Wainwright

The art of doing small things well has a good illustration in the humble chair-mender of the London streets, who is also one of the most interesting of out-door tradesmen.

He carries all his implements and materials with him. A very much worn chair is thrown over one arm as an advertisement of his occupation, and it is needed, for his cry, "Cha–ir–s to men–n–nd," is uttered in a melancholy and indistinct, though penetrating, tone. Under the other arm he usually has a bundle of cane, split into narrow ribbons. -

Taken from St. Nicholas Magazine for Boys and Girls, Vol. 5, October 1878, No. 12

In Georgian England the "Cries of London" were part of the atmosphere of the City and how the buying public located the services or products that they needed. Nel Gwynne for example was well known as the "darling" of orange sellers and each trade or supplier had their own distinctive cry and regular street routes or "rounds". There is a fascinating article here about Georgian street trade.

What a lovely thought that in some ways we uphold such an old trade, but instead of plying the streets carrying a chair, we can use photographs on the the communication highway - the internet - and blogging is our equivalent of the cry "Cha–ir–s to men–n–nd"!


Leanne said...

glad you liked it!

Leanne x

Jean said...

I've just seen something very similar - Le Rempailleur. I was on a course near La Rochelle.
Do you do polychrome work? I am not sure what this would be in English (the same maybe?) but it is basically several colours wound around the weaving material.

The Seat Bottomer said...

Hi Jean. Yes I've done the straw wrapped work, but it isn't so well known here as it is in France. I too spent many happy times in and around the furniture making areas of France learning all that I could - you are very lucky to live there, la vie est belle!