Chimney Sweeping … a history
- Chimneys started to appear to replace the open fires in the middle of house in around 1200AD.
- With the Age of industrialisation came narrower and more angular chimneys – the master chimney sweep was too big to get into such small spaces and so was born the ‘climbing boy’.
- These chimney sweep apprentices were often from the workhouse or sold to the master sweep by the parent.
- It was a dangerous job, along with suffering from general neglect, the apprentices would often get stuck and suffocate in the chimney.
- Many Acts passed in parliament to try to regulate the profession and keep sweeps safer but these were largely ignored until the 1875 Chimney Sweepers Act.
- This Act came into force following the death by suffocation of 12 year old George Brewster and the subsequent jailing of his master for manslaughter. George Brewster was the last child to die in a chimney.
- Today most chimney sweeps are professionals and use more modern tools alongside the more traditional chimney brush.
- As well as cleaning the chimney they are often trained in general maintenance of the chimney, including creosote removal, firebox, damper and smoke chamber repair and even flue lining and masonry work.
- Why should you have your chimney swept? Chimney needs regular sweeping to remove soot, and other blockages from your chimney that will prevent the dangerous gasses from escaping and will adversely affect its efficiency. The removal of creosote will prevent chimney fires.
- How often should you have your chimney swept? Your local chimney sweep should be able to advise you on this as it does depend on a number of factors like the type of chimney you have, the type of fire and fuel and the frequency of use. Here are some general guide guidelines based on the type of fuel:
- Wood – Quarterly when being used regularly
- Black Coal – Quarterly when being used regularly
- Gas or Oil – At least once a year
- Smokeless fuel – At least once a year
- In the UK it is considered lucky for a bride to see a chimney sweep on her wedding day and many modern sweep will still hire themselves out for this purpose!