The knocker-up used a trucheon or short, heavy stick to knock on the clients' doors or a long and light stick, often made of bamboo, to reach windows on higher floors. In return, the knocker-up would be paid a few pence a week. The knocker-up would not leave a client's window until they were assured the client had been awoken.
There were large numbers of people carrying out the job, especially in larger industrial towns such as Manchester. Generally the job was carried out by elderly men and women but sometimes police constables supplemented their pay by performing the task during early morning patrols.
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, includes a brief description of a knocker-up. Hindle Wakes a play written by Stanley Houghton and then a movie (of the same title) directed by Maurice Elvey, includes a knocker-up.