A Short History of the ‘Knocker Uppers’ Who Woke Up Workers Before Invention of the Alarm Clock

Before alarm clocks were invented, the working people of London and other British cities relied on others to make sure they were awake in time to get ready for work. These reliable people were known as “knocker-uppers”. In an interview with Great Big Story, London historian Richard Jones explained what the knocker-uppers did, how they did it and who woke them up when they needed to be at work.

This is the age where people start to work in factories. They’ve got to be up early for their shift and of course most people are on minimum wages, they’ve got a long time in the house. Consequently there’s no one to wake them up so that’s where the knocker up came in … the evidence suggests that the knocker up that just didn’t go to bed …wakey-wakey.