Has London always attracted young Europeans to do its low-paid work?

Updated Tuesday 31st May 2016

Long before the EU - back before the outbreak of the First World War - young people from the continent were descending on London taking up poorly-paid roles in the hospitality industry. This extract from the Daily Mirror explains:

Parliament Square during a zeppelin raid Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Public domain Suffering Zeppelin attack - and broken crockery, too

Can you imagine a seventeen year-old English country labourer in a dress suit acting as a waiter at a big London restaurant?

It is almost inconceivable, yet in all our big restaurants and hotels just now there are country youths from the farms of Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and France acting as waiters, and doing their work uncommonly well, too. 

An hotel manager told me this yesterday. These "clodhoppers", he says, are natural waiters. After a very few weeks experience they are perfectly capable of acting as assistants to older waiters and even, in a rush, of attending upon casual customers themselves.

Their only fault is they are clumsy. They smash a lot of crockery, but then, as they hardly get any wages, and work for experience and a few tips, the hotel management is prepared to put up with that.

Originally published by The Daily Mirror, May 7th, 1914

 

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