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An article about 'Sparrow Clappers', by W. Boagey.

W. Boagey appears to be a Hartlepool historian, as I have found internet references to Hartlepool historical transcriptions and other articles with the same name on them.

The Mr. Garry in the article could equally well be James Garry, or his son, John Hamilton Garry. I would like to find out more information on this, to be able to say for sure which it is.

by W. Boagey
A feature of the period which vanished with the coming of the motor vehicle
was the immense number of sparrows that found a living about the stables
and in the streets of the town. They nested in the ivy that covered the
walls of the larger houses and were a nuisance to the occupants, who usually
readily gave permission to anyone who would remove them without disturbing
their slumbers.
The service was performed by men armed with an apparatus called a "clapper",
two twenty-foot poles with a sheet of black muslin between them folded into
a pouch at the bottom. During the hours of darkness this was "clapped"
against the ivy-covered walls, and the startled sparrows flying against the
net fell into the pouch, from which they were transferred to a basket.
Sometimes as many as 400 were caught in one night and disposed of to Tommy
Musgrave at the Station Hotel at Seaton at a penny each for his sparrow-
shooting competitions.
No more attention was paid to "sparrow-clappers" then than is paid to
window-cleaners now. The men did their job as quietly as possible, but
escaping sparrows sometimes caused an alarm of burglars when they fluttered
against some lighted window, especially if the occupants had not been warned
of the visit.
When Mr. Garry, the architect, lived at the corner of Waldon Street and
Elwick Road, he once threw up the window and held out a revolver, threaten-
ing to fire in two minutes if the intruders hadn't gone.
Occasionally, someone brought the police, who of course knocked up the
tenant to find out if the "sparrow-clappers" had asked permission. If
that formality had been overlooked, the trespassers decamped at the first
footstep as quickly as they left Mr. Garry's.
Of course it was not in their interests to go "clapping" in such circum-
stances and it was only done if the "bag" was short, such as in the case of
a visit to a vicarage, where the vicar objected to having the sparrows
removed. To obtain entry a wall had to be climbed, and when the vicar
strolled along the path with his dog at his heels just as the proceedings
were about to commence, there was no escape. The men pressed themselves
into the ivy, and in the darkness the vicar and his dog passed and re-
passed without noticing anything unusual, and the "clappers" then retreated
silently and thankfully.

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