Rag n Bone Man



Who remembers the Rag n Bone man? Coming round Blantyre streets with his horse and cart and blowing his trumpet announcing he was there. People would take out their old clothes and towels and he would give your child a balloon or some small plastic trinket in return.

In later times, the rag n bone man had a small van, but the idea was the same.

What can you tell me about this subject? What memories do you have? Do you know who the traders were and when this practice stopped?

On social media:

Marion Anderson this came from like somewhere deep in my memory bank ..he’d shout “delft for rags” mum would scurry around looking for something to give me to to get desirable item that I saw. Happy days!
Wendy Mackie Me lol used to take something that was probably worth more than balloon .
Helen Williams If it wasn’t a ballon or whistle, it was clothes pegs, mostly both. Not sure when he stopped but was definitely around 50s early 60s
John Crothers Remember getting clothes pegs and a balloon
Jane Maxwell I remember the kids down the street ran out with brand new clothes and my mum got them back and gave them back to their mum. She had a large family and did not have much and had just got them some new things. The kids wanted balloons 🎈 we all laughed I think the rag man just let them have one each.
Kirsty Richardson McDonald I remember the one that came certain places in Hamilton with your Mother checking what you were giving him was really rags lol
Phil Read In my past life i think i was one, with the amount of crap in my work shop.
Stephen PatchesO’Houlihan Neil Gallagher rember in clydesdale only us and robin understood who these were lol
Neil Gallagher Yep. Me and Robin were old and you remembered from a past life πŸ˜‚
Stephen PatchesO’Houlihan Maybe i was one in a previous life lol πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Neil Gallagher Or a horse πŸ΄πŸ˜‚
Stephen PatchesO’Houlihan I am a good runner lol
Neil Gallagher Robin is probably a Rag and Bone man as we speak lol
Stephen PatchesO’Houlihan Lol i wonder where he is these days lol
Neil Gallagher Chasing sheep πŸ‘
Stephen PatchesO’Houlihan At least he is having a good night out lol
Helen McKean Remember well. Love getting my balloon.
Aileen Hamilton I wondered what delft was when I heard his shouts, all I ever got was a balloon! !!
Yvonne Kelly Irene Agnew remember I used to have you looking for stuff to give him so I could get a balloon 🎈 and wee plastic toy
John Breen Question what did the rag man do with the clothes
He must have sold them on but to whom
Jim Mcknight Jock Weir worked at this for a spell.
Karen Menzies I loved getting a balloon or a whistle ! X
Gord Fotheringham Two China plates was what he used to rattle…..
Marion Jones A ball on a string loved it x
Isabel Mcneily We lived on Coatshill Ave and I remember him well. I used to get so excited to see what I would get for the rags, great memories
Robert McLeod-Wolohan i remember it well even when my children were very young he was coming round then, then the horse and cart was replaced a van lol
Irene Agnew oh yvonne brings back memories i remember running and pulling out stuff !!!!!! x
Yvonne Kelly Lol yes and me screaming hurry up before he goes. Haha made me smile thinking about it
Tracey Hamill Haha I emptied my mum’s wardrobe to give to him.she made me go get it all back.
Abbi Holmes So we’re were… and Billy Connelly PMSL am only gonna show you this once !!! Xx
Willie Frame Remember asking my mum have you got any rags and she would say “yes I’m wearing them”….. lol
David Lee Weir Abbi Holmes David Holmes
We were talking g about this the other day lol 🀣
Betty McLean There was no way we could get balloons when a cup was needed. The call of Delft for rags was a way to replace a cup. He was also known as “cheap Johney” It was always fascinating to see him come with his horse and cart. Kids with eyes full of wonder at what he had if only we had more rags. My mother cut up rags to make rugs, she put a piece of canvas on the floor and made a lovely pattern. I remember the hooks and helped with making them. So different from today when now people are handing in clothes to charity shops.
Stephen Speirs Remember him coming into Janefield place around 73-76 ( I was still at primary school) nit sure much after that
Tom McGuigan Maw, have you any rags?
Aye, you’re wearing them
Frank Dowie I always wondered as a kid what ‘delph’ actually meant. Seems it is a fine porcelian. I don’t think our ragman had any of that!!
Frank Dowie He gave ye fair warning when he came,Though the tune he played wis never the same

In a nearby street a bugler played, no it wasnt the army or the Boys Brigade

And all the young mothers gripped wi the fear, as that dreaded bugler got ever near

Was Jock the Ragman playing an old tune, a scruffy Pied Piper who came tae oor toon

He came intae orr street pushin his cart, blowing and shouting right from the start

An auld broon suitcase filled with toys like santas grotto for girls and for boys

Paint sets and crayons lots o coloured chalks, to draw on yer walls ain yer spinning top

Spud guns ,peashooters, and gutty slings, toys of war ,that the ragman brings

Then he wid tak oot a woodbine, the last o his fags , then he shouted and bawlled “Toys for Rags” Goldfish for rags

Another blast on the bugle and then it wid hush, light up and wait for the mad rush

The bairns in the street wid all gan mad ,lookin fer rags frae ther mums and ther dads

In aw thi cupboards through oot thi rooms and that work tae git some balloons

Wi great anticipation they wid aw stand in line, eyes watchin the ragman all of the time

Nae pounds or ounzes or oni kind o measure, jist a bundle o rags fer a handfae o treasure

Bit a kin onli staund and stare, wi nevir hid oni rags tae spare , noo looking back thinkin o thi facts

Aw my rags were on my back.

Angela McCafferty I remember him coming round to Ashley Place in a van and mum would give me something to run out with for a bouncy ball on elastic πŸ˜‚ Janette Mcgregor
Helen Lawson Taylor I remember the manure getting shovelled up for the gardens after they left Beech place, not. often they got a free gift.
Janette Mcgregor Think they stopped late 80’s does anyone remember the salesman who went round the houses wi a suitcase selling stuff..my mum always bought dishcloths n if the kids were there he always had sweets in his pocket
Carmen Louise Danny Moran.. rem i always picked a kazoo off the ragman πŸ˜‚..x
Robyn Garner-Roy Remember him, I was drinking way him a week past on Thursday, bastards still to get a round in
Colin Lees Balloon or a zorro mask. Lol
Johnstone Purdie Jane He sings songs now…lol.
Carol Duncan I remember him coming to the tenements in Morris Street. A yoyo or bouncy ball on elastic were the favourites.
Janice McVicar I remember being given a balloon.
Marie Higgins I stayed in fernslea Ave remb this well I used to get a ball on a string or a yo yo great memorise with my brother Edward Vincent and sis Anne the good old days foe the mc bride family
David Warren I remember him coming to our street in Letchworth, says Jill
Jean Boyle My two brothers gave the ragman there jumpers that my mum had just knitted for a balloon, my mum had to go find him and gave him a right telling off x
Kenny Eve I remember them with a van and think it stopped early 80’s. We used to get a Robin mask (from Batman & Robin). I think we called him the balloon man! I can remember that horn being blown like it was yesterday!


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  1. My Uncle would simply shout very loud ‘RAG BONE’. He didn’t have a pony, he just pushed his cart around the streets of Salford and Moss Side in Manchester

  2. M<y Uncle Billy was a Rag and Bone man in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I'm writing about him in my book and would love to use this image so can you confirm if this is copywrite free. If not how can I get permission.

  3. Sometimes a ragman would give you a goldfish in return for rags ?woolens ,and the firm. He sold them to was known as a MARINE MERCHANT who might lend or hire to the rag man a hand cart. Or in some cases pony @ cart, when he weighed in usually. Just after pub opening time ,would pay for the hire,if he had enough monies worth gathered in 1953 in burnley a typical hire charge for pony & cart in burnley lancs was 7 shillings& 6 pence or @ today’s rate 38 new pence twas my job to make this ready for him

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