Barrow for your luggage sir?

Hard work on a Saturday . .

By Martin Philpot

Saturday morning in the holiday season in the mid-sixties was a real earner for a young lad if you were up to real graft.   Crowds of holidaymakers ladened down with heavy suitcases would pour out of the main train and coach stations needing to find their way to the hotels and guesthouses along the seafront. On a good day, I could earn over ten pounds. . My record was eleven pounds five shillings (an important boast for many years).  This was a massive amount considering that I also earned three pounds and ten shillings for 5 days work on Rosatti's tea stall!

I started at the age of 12 and the pattern of my day went something like this; Up at 6am , walked from my home near Tollhouse Road  in Southtown to my uncle's Steve's on Stafford Road to borrow his barrow (I didn't have my own). By 7am I was at Vauxhall Station awaiting the early arrivals, weighing up the opposition with their barrows also at the ready.  As the holiday makers arrived I would call out "barrow for your luggage?" and try and beat the others to custom.  I was young and the older barrow boys were tough and aggressive towards me if they felt I was on 'their' patch.  I had many a dust-up and you had to be wary - there was a definite pecking order!

There wasn't a rate for your service, you simply said "it's up to you sir" when asked "how much?"  People were generally reasonable although I do remember Yorkshire folk or "Yorkies" were the meanest (certainly not the Scottish) and Londoners were the most generous.

A barrow with suitcases piled high pushed from Vauxhall or Beach coach station to a guesthouse in Camperdown is a tough call for a 12 year old and I would carry on all day back and forth until around 4pm - exhausted but loaded! Fish and chips on the way home!

This page was added by Martin Philpot on 06/05/2008.

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