Two Salvation Army Officers, armed with the requisite brooms and suitably rigged, ragged and disguised, practised the art of 'faking' - the name given to crossing sweeping by professionals. Relating their experiences - extended over a considerable time and a wide area - the amateur sweepers arrived at the conclusion that unless one had a really good crossing, and that, too, on a very muddy day, pence were few. If the road was fairly clean the average man in the street was apt to treat the mournful 'faker' - although he simulated the most racking cough - with scorn by crossing beside, not on, the cleanly swept path. At the same time the investigating Salvationists brought the knowledge that there are crossing sweepers who manage to make a decent living, but by also working up a connection in window cleaning, running errands, and doing odd jobs in genteel neighbourhoods. However, the poor fellow who spends his last copper in the purchase of a penny second hand broom, and sallies in search of a crossing to sweep, may well deem himself fortunate if at the end of the day he has gained enough to secure a shelter for the night and food for the morrow. (Peterborough Advertiser)
Taken from The Peterborough Book of Days by Brian Jones, The History Press, 2014.