F. Flittner, Moorgate, London, EC2. Photo © Roger Dean 2012
All the Year Round – Conducted by Charles Dickens, 1876:
“If you will take a seat, sir, and amuse yourself with the newspaper for five minutes,” remarked the barber, civilly, “I shall be at your service.” It was a ticklish situation. There was once a barber, Sweeny Todd by name, if I rightly remember, who kept a shop in Fleet Street, ostensibly for cutting hair and mowing beards, but whose real business was the cutting of human throats. There was a trap-door in the floor of Sweeny’s shop on which the victim’s chair was placed, and, after he had been lathered, Mr. Todd would say, “Just tilt your head a little farther back, sir, so as I may get at the underneath part!” And then – slish! and in a jiffy the body was robbed, the bolt that held the trap withdrawn, a splash was heard in the turbulently flowing Fleet Ditch below, and a mop and a handful of clean sawdust made the shop clean and tidy for the next customer.
[F. Flittner, whose sign is in the photograph above, have been cutting gentlemen’s hair, not their throats, in their barber shop on Moorgate since 1904.