The Ashpits of Bolton and the Nightsoil Men
This photograph is a typical Bolton back street in the 1930's. In the foreground is my mother Mary Joan Entwistle. It is actually Back Arnold Street in Halliwell. In the background in the middle of the wall between the two doors, you can see the small door to the ashpit. The ashpit was between the toilets. These were emptied by the nightsoilsmen or muckmisers, and the ashpitmen or middenmen.
A good description of this can be found in a story called 'The Strange Singing at Night' in My Pal Spadger by Bill Naughton.
"The six men, three to each cart, were working in rhythm, with one man ahead opening the ashpit doors, and dragging out the ash-tubs, all ready for his two mates coming up behind, who would drag the pail out, empty it into the front cart and then replace it. The second pair of men would tip the contents of the ash tub into the second cart drawn by the grey horse known as Captain, and they would then shovel up the surplus ashes and replace the tub. Following on behind them was a man who swept up and shut the ashpit doors and generally made the back street tidy."
In those days when most people kept the fire burning all day and raked up at night, the ash tubs would be overflowing with ashes.