The Anonymous Widower

How Real Printers Catch Rats

My father was a real letterpress printer and his works was a rather decrepit building with a rodent problem.

Over the years he told me various stories about how they dealt with them

In the 1930s, he’d lived with his widowed mother above the shop, so to speak, and they’d employed  a traditional solution; a cat.

According to my father, who was not unknown to embellish a good tale, the cat was an enormous ginger specimen. And as was typical of those days, he was a proper Tom.

Whether he was any good in the ratting department never entered the story  But above the shop next door lived a posh lady with a pedigree  Siamese female.

One morning my father was confronted by the lady, saying that his mother’s cat had fathered a litter of kittens, that her Siamese had just produced. On inspecting them, there did seem to be a large number with a ginger hue.

The lady said that her cat never went out and he knew that his family cat was always shut in to deal with the rodent infestation.

So how did the two cats do it?

One hot night, my father was returning from the Jolly Anglers opposite. All the top windows were open and he saw the ginger cat balance along the parapet on the wall and hop in next door to see his lady friend.

His other method of catching rats, relied on those things that were always around in a print works.  He would take a quad box and prop it up at an angle over the rat hole with a pica reglet.  They’d then all wait in the dark for action. When the rodent disturbed the reglet, the box fell and trapped the poor animal underneath  It was then a matter of switching the lights on and moving the box gently to the middle of the room, keeping the rodent trapped  Everybody, then grabbed something suitable, like a small coal shovel before the box was removed

It was a quick end. And as my father told it, a fun tale

December 19, 2011 - Posted by | World | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] In the photograph, you can also see the parapet, where my grandmother’s ginger cat went about its business in this tale. […]

    Pingback by An Excursion At Wood Green « The Anonymous Widower | January 20, 2012 | Reply


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