Most likely, you remember Dick Van Dyke as Bert, the chimney sweep from the classic Mary Poppins film, but have you thought about the history of his venerable trade? As the folks at Columbus, OH area chimney cleaning, inspection and repair service, Embers to Ashes Chimneyworks note, origins of these tradespeople have been traced to 16th century London, and these workers have definitely dealt with a great deal of grit since then.
Like with many trades, chimney sweeping has seen a great deal of change over the years:
- Early Years: In the 17th century, the master chimney sweep would employ small boys to climb inside chimneys to clean the inside of the flue and take on tar build up. These children were bonded apprentices and often sold into the profession; they were unpaid but received food, clothing and shelter from the master. Sadly, many died on the job due to asphyxiation, and some were victims of abuse. Thankfully, the use of these boys was finally outlawed in the UK by an act of Parliament in 1864.
- Industry And Innovation: In the 18th century, an engineer from Bristol, England, Mr. Joseph Glass, developed a design for sweeping equipment that is basically still in use today. His time period and the 19th century saw an explosion of the need for this kind of work as a result of the industrial revolution and an increased use of coal for heating.
- Modern Times: Things changed a great deal in the 20th century, and, starting in the early 1960's, gas supplanted the use of coal for heating. While this was a positive step in many respects—it drastically improved air quality—this shift put many chimney sweeps out of work. Still, despite the fact that the industry contracted, chimney sweeps are still needed; what’s more, most have expanded the scope of what they do to include things like flue repair, masonry and relining.
Ultimately, the professionals at Embers to Ashes Chimneyworks uphold a long, storied tradition; with nearly 40 years in business, this is the company to trust with your chimney. To learn more about the work they do, call them at (614) 863-1389, or visit them online.