Chimney sweeping has come a long way since it first came about in the 17th century. The modern-day chimney sweeper looks a lot different to what most people would imagine (think Dick Van Dyke’s charming character in Mary Poppins). Chimney sweeping is an old profession that still holds strong today.
So how did it originate and how has chimney sweeping progressed throughout the years?
The Beginning of Chimney Sweeping
Chimneys first became popular in the 16th century as a smart solution to rid homes of smoke generated by fires. People loved having warm homes, so the popularity of fireplaces grew massively. Families would request multiple fireplaces to be installed in their homes, and therefore multiple chimneys to be added. It was at this time that hearth tax was introduced, and tax was calculated by the number of chimneys in a home. This led to the creation of complex tunnel systems between fireplaces, so that only one chimney was required, thus reducing tax burden.
It was during this same time period that the use of coal grew in popularity and began to replace wood as a fuel source. Coal creates sticky soot, which is difficult to clean with a chimney sweep brush and therefore needed to be scraped off in the areas where soot built up. It became evident that chimney sweeping would be required, as a house full of soot and fumes is unhealthy.
It’s interesting to know that chimneys, early on, were swept for free. This was because the sweepers could sell the soot to farmers and gardeners as soil fertiliser. Chimney sweeps could also compress soot into bricks using special boxes, and then sell it for additional income.
The Industrial Revolution created a huge demand for chimney sweeps due to the widespread use of coal as …