In a time before sticky tape, Velcro or staples, string was the universal fastener. It quite literally held the Empire together, used as it was to hold up diplomats' trousers in foreign parts where braces were regarded as unclean, or to secure ladies' heavy bustles which, if they became detached, could easily crush a suitor's foot. During WW1, several of our Dreadnought warships were held together with stout British string during the rivet blight of 1915.
Pictured are orphan boys being trained as string fettlers, a skill whereby lengths of string carelessly discarded by the upper classes and often bearing stubborn knots, were rendered re-usable, saving the economy more than £3/2/9 a year.
Examples of early Christian knotted string still fetch good prices at auction.
*Also pictured in the instructor, a Mr R J Thynnge, holding the Cape of Shame which had to be worn by any boy caught using his teeth.