Long and Proud History

When you paint a picture of Old England, it would never be complete without the good old chimney sweep. This tells you just how long this profession has been around. And it proves its timelessness because even today chimney sweeps are needed more than ever to assure the maintenance of every household’s winter necessity – the chimney.

The chimney trend caught on pretty quick and soon government saw a way to make money out of it – by imposing a hearth tax. However, clever people found a way through this. They figured out that if the number of flues could be minimized, so could the taxes. Thus, the complex network of fireplaces and chimney flues were invented.

From soot-covered faces in black and white pictures, to the modern sweep...professionals have been sharpening skills for hundreds of years.

From soot-covered faces in black and white pictures, to the modern sweep…professionals have been sharpening skills for hundreds of years.

In the meantime, coal was also gaining a name for itself. This trend also caught on in fireplaces. The downside was that it burned much dirtier than wood and regular cleaning became a must. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. This was right about the time when the chimney sweeping profession was born. They were the chimney heroes of the time who prevented many disastrous and unhealthy occurrences because of soot build-up and clogs along the flue.

Back in the day, the job of chimney sweeping was quite an undertaking. There even came a need to employ young boys to reach inside the smaller areas of chimneys to clean it out properly. Fortunately, those days are over. It has evolved to become a very noble an legitimate line of work.

In 1864, the “Act for the Regulation of Chimney Sweepers” was passed to end the plight of young boys. New devices emerged to make the work easier and more efficient. One of these was the use of a heavy ball and rope to reach all the way down to the fireplace. Next was the invention of canes and brushes to clean from bottom to top. Now there are new and modern advances in the technology of chimney sweeping that makes it much safer and easier to maintain a chimney.

The dawn of technology also brought a new development in chimney use. Gas and electricity quickly became popular as a source of heat for homes and this caused a shift in the role of the chimney sweep. But it was only a momentary swing because the prices of fossil fuels rapidly rose and people returned to burning wood.

So chimney sweeps managed to stay in the picture and became even more main stream because the revival of idle chimneys was becoming a hazard when the necessary precautionary measures were not taken. Carbon monoxide poisonings became rampant. Backdrafting was a big issue. Chimney sweeps came to the rescue.

Today, we see that chimney sweeps have come such a long way. There has been a lot of sweat and blood put into the research and education of proper chimney maintenance. Professional chimney sweeps take their job very seriously and they ensure safety above all else. So long as we have fireplaces and chimneys to warm our houses, chimney sweeps will always be there to help keep them at their best.