How did people wake up before reliable clocks? As the Industrial age kicked up, shift work and getting up at a specific time became important. However, clocks of that era were very unreliable and beyond the means of most workers. What were the alternatives?
Well, first off, there were people called ‘Knocker-uppers’. They would go around and use a long pole to tap on your window. They were often night owls that slept during the day, or were people that owned a reliable clock. Believe it or not, England had these until as late as the 1970’s.
The other option was candle clocks. One would light a candle that burned at a relatively known rate. The markings on/beside the candle would indicate the time it would take to burn to that point. The user would put nails or pins into the candle at the time when they wanted to wake up. When the candle burned to that point, the metal pins would fall out into a metal catching pan. The clanking of the pins falling into the catch pan would (hopefully) wake the sleeper.
Read more about the various inventions used to wake and tell time here.