Hull-istic Medicine: Public Health through Time
Hull Ratcatchers, 1850 - 1900
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Rat-catcher had a very important job to do to help control the spread of disease. Poor housing and sanitary conditions meant that rats were a real problem and risk to the population.
In Hull during the 1930s, a Rat-catcher named George Emmerson kept a diary of his own experiences, giving a fascinating insight into his day to day duties as a Rat-catcher. Each diary entry records the date and address of where the rat catcher visited. He also kept a tally chart of how many rats he caught on a daily basis. To help catch rats, the Rat-catcher would use dogs and ferrets as well as rat poison and traps to help him. In the diary Mr Emmerson keeps a list of the names of all the dogs he used, and these include 'Spider', 'Crackers', 'Judy' and 'Bubbles'!
Often during the visit, a ferret would be sent down to where the rats were thought to be and would get lost. When they were found again, the Rat-catcher would document this in his diary. It appears that most were found again, and the Rat-catcher was pleased about this!