knacker's yard

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From knacker (one who slaughters and (especially) renders worn-out livestock (especially horses) and sells their flesh, bones and hides) + -'s + yard.



knacker's yard (plural knackers' yards)

  1. The area of a slaughterhouse where carcasses unfit for human consumption or other purposes are rendered down to produce useful materials such as glue.
    Synonym: knackery
    • 1847 June 21, “[10 & 11 Victoriæ] Cap. XXXIV. An Act for Consolidating in One Act Certain Provisions usually Contained in Acts for Paving, Draining, Cleansing, Lighting, and Improving Towns.”, in A Compendious Abstract of the Public General Acts of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland: 10 Victoriæ—1847. [], volume XXV, London: Printed by James Holmes, []; published by E. B. Ince, [], →OCLC, sections CXXV and CXXVI, page 134:
      CXXV. The Commissioners may license such slaughter-house and knacker's yards[sic] as they from time to time think proper for slaughtering cattle within the limits of the special Act. CXXVI. No place shall be used or occupied as a slaughter-house or knacker's yard within the said limits which was not in such use and occupation at the time of the passing of the special Act, [...]
    • 1853, George W[illiam] M[acArthur] Reynolds, “Following Up the Clue”, in The Mysteries of the Court of London, volume V (Third Series, volume I), London: Published, for Mr. Reynolds, by John Dicks, [], →OCLC, page 243, column 1:
      It was a horrible smell of corrupt flesh and mouldy bones, mingling with the sickly steam of from cauldrons in which the anatomized animals were seething down. None save those who have been so unfortunate as to venture upon the confines of a knacker's yard, can possibly conceive the horrible nausea produced by these blended effluvia: it was enough to make the strongest stomach heave and become sick.
    • 1855, John Timbs, “Markets”, in Curiosities of London: Exhibiting the Most Rare and Remarkable Objects of Interest in the Metropolis; [], London: David Bogue, [], →OCLC, page 500:
      [T]he market [Smithfield Market] is surrounded by slaughter-houses and knackers' yards, tallow-melting, bone-boiling, tripe-washing, and other offensive trades; [...]
    • 1955, The Sanitarian: The Official Journal of the Sanitary Inspectors’ Association, volume 63, London: Sanitary Inspectors’ Association, →OCLC, page 406:
      The information given when the first animal was presented for slaughter was that lead paint had been consumed and that three other animals of the same herd had died and had been sent to a knackers yard.[sic]
    • 2012, Judith Flanders, “The World’s Market”, in The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London, New York, N.Y.: Thomas Dunne Books, →ISBN, part 2 (Staying Alive), page 138:
      In the 1820s, it was estimated that 400 horses a week were slaughtered via licensed horse-butchers (more commonly known as knackers' yards); by mid-century the number had risen to 1,000 horses weekly, and knackers' yards dotted the poorer districts – [...]
  2. (colloquial, figuratively) A (notional) place to send a person or object that is spent beyond all reasonable use.
    I’ve never met someone so incompetent. He’s only fit for the knacker’s yard.
    • 2007, Planning: Journal of the Royal Town Planning Institute, London: Planning Publications, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 13, column 1:
      No-one would argue that the system is perfect. But as it nears pensionable age, only deranged free marketeers want to see it packed off to the knacker's yard.
    • 2014, Laurie McTaggart, “My Book of Life is Overdue at the Great Library in the Sky”, in Bell Street Blues: Poems, Kibworth Beauchamp, Leicestershire: Matador, →ISBN, page 86:
      By then, of course, we and the book are in a sorry state, / scuffed and grubby and having been used / often for purposes not strictly intended, / from doorstop to lavatory-paper, / and ended up in a knacker's yard. / I'm in the knacker's yard. Have been for a while … / and, really, there are worse places to be.

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