Where we live we still have the traditional Rag and Bone Man doing his rounds. His cart is so like this one – even down to the red wheels. I am always loth to give his anything as the poor horse always seems to have enough to carry.
As a small child the rag man had a small roundabout behind the cart and I always wanted a ride so Mum had to find something for him!
Nowadays it seems to be just metal items, not rags or bones. As a child there were a couple of mills near where we lived where the old wool clothes were smashed and bashed in some sort of chemical I think by the smell. They were in a pit with a thing like a giant mixer blade stirring them round into a sort of paste. We used to stand on the low wall just a couple of feet away and watch – no health and safety in the 50’s!
As a teenager I found out there was a place near us where the man would buy woollens to be reused in the “Shoddy” Industry. My best friend and I would ask all and sundry for old felted woollies, weigh them in and then go into Leeds to buy something from C & A or “Fanny’s” boutique.
My husbands family were always described to me as Cloth Merchants and Rug Manufacturers. I found out from the census returns previous generations were rag dealers and the rugs started out as the proddy rugs now bought for shabby chic kitchens.