London's top 10 most weird and wonderful jobs


From zombies to swan wardens, Crown Jewels cleaners to Gherkin cleaners, our cosmopolitan capital boasts some pretty unusual professions

John Glaser nosing the gin at Sipsmith

Source: Sipsmith

John Glaser nosing the gin at Sipsmith

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London is weird and wonderful. You don’t need me to tell you that, simply head down to your local charity shop and rifle through the books and china displays. Three headed porcelain dog anyone?

As well as ornamental eccentricities and bag ladies, London’s got some pretty out-there jobs too. Here’s our pick of the bunch.

1.       Window cleaner for the Gherkin

Forget shammy leather and window spray, these guys at Advance Cleaning Services abseil down the city’s tallest skyscrapers to ensure the windows remain sparkling. Using specially designed ropes and harnesses, as well as skyscrapers, the daredevil cleaners get up onto factory ceilings and dangle from bridges. Rather heroic.

Average salary?  Advance wouldn’t disclose but we gestimate about £50k per annum

2.       Golf ball divers

Each time you’re golf course concentration is off, and your balls land in the lake rather than the holes, it’s flashing pound signs for these guys. Golf ball divers retrieve the balls from London’s golf courses and can collect anything from 5 to 10 pence per ball. This might not be a lot but a good diver retrieves one million balls per year. Yes, one million.

Average salary? £100k per annum

3.       The Cool Hunter

Stop groaning, this is an actual job. Cool hunters are part of the phenomena that is trend watching and trend forecasting. Industries pay big bucks to learn what the next big thing is, proven in 2010 when magazine publisher EMAP revealed its trend forecasting website, Worth Global Style Network, generated a £40m turnover in that year alone.

Average salary? £25k+ per annum

Amphibious house by Baca architects

An artist impression of a floating London house by a walk-on-water architect. Sort of.

4.       Walk on water architects

Much more interesting than height-defying starchitects and their space-age designs, these guys are positively celestial – they walk on water! Well, they can build houses that float on water anyway. Britain’s first amphibious house, designed by London-based practice Baca Architects, will defy potential flooding from the Thames.

Average salary? Baca described the salary as “modest”, our guess is £35k+ per annum

5.       Crown Jewels cleaner

Four years ago, in a highly unexpected and shocking decision that flew in the face of British tradition – while enraging many a Daily Mail reader in the process – Her Royal Majesty changed the Crown Jeweller. After 160 years, Garrard of Mayfair was out and Harry Collins of Kent was in. Meaning the job of cleaning the Crown Jewels now lies with Harry Collins and co.  

Average salary? Your guess is as good as ours

6.       Zombie

The London Dungeons might not seem like an obvious career choice, but with a £30k starting salary it’s not such a scary option after all. The Dungeons hold annual auditions for the role of zombie, which seems to attract a wide pool of applicants – including one former archaeologist who won the job in 2009.

Average salary? £30k per annum

7.       Gin distiller

Gin, gin, gin. Oh we do love gin. Well Londoners love gin, and thanks to the longevity of London distillers like Beefeater and the new kids on the block, Sipsmith, it’s never been more fashionable. The master distiller at Sipsmith sources and measures the botanicals that go into Sipsmith gin, while tasting the lovely stuff and ensuring quality control. It’s a hard life.

Average salary? £30+ per annum

8.       Dodgy foie gras seller

The next level up from contraband fags, these guys operate “secret societies” selling illicit duck and goose livers to very naughty posh people. Well, the butcher Jack O’Shea did anyway. O’Shea was caught selling foie gras under the counter to customers in Selfridges. This is despite the department store banning the sale of it two years ago.

Average salary? £30k+ per annum

9.       Warden of the Swans

You probably already know that the Queen owns all of the swans – it’s one of those disgruntled facts teenagers carry about with them when they decide they go through their anti-monarchy stage. Or was that just me? Anyway, since 1993, the Queen’s swans also have a warden (before that the office was held by the Keeper of the Swans).

Average salary? Unknown

10.   Chief mouser to the cabinet (aka Larry)

This happy tabby celebrated being in office for one year yesterday. Larry, the Downing Street cat adopted from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home last year, is responsible for keeping the mouse population at Number 10 down.

Average salary? We couldn’t possibly let that cat out the bag