January 30, 2023

Winter is coming and the fires are being lit

So are you ready when winter finally arrives and you are freezing and when you light the fire you have to beat a hasty retreat from the smoke that billows from your fireplace. and you then need a chimney sweep, what will you do?

According to Wikipedia “A chimney sweep is a worker who clears ash and soot from chimneys. The chimney uses the pressure difference caused by a hot column of gas to create a draught and draw air over the hot coals or wood enabling continued combustion. Chimneys may be straight or contain many changes of direction. During normal operation a layer of creosote builds up on the inside of the chimney restricting the flow. The creosote can also catch fire, setting the chimney and the building alight. The chimney must be swept to remove the soot. This was done by the master sweep.

 In the United Kingdom, the master sweeps took apprentices, who were boys from the workhouse or bought them from their parents and trained them to climb chimneys. Boys as young as four climbed hot flues that could be as narrow as 9 inches square. Work was dangerous and they could get jammed in the flue, suffocate or burn to death. As the soot was a carcinogen, and as the boys slept under the soot sacks and were rarely washed, they were prone to Chimney Sweeps Cancer. From 1775 onwards there was increasing concern for the welfare of the boys, and Acts of Parliament were passed to restrict, and in 1875 to stop this usage. Lord Shaftesbury, the philanthropist, led the later campaign. In the United States, Black children were hired from their owners and used in the same way, and were still climbing after 1875.

 In the German States, master sweeps belonged to trade guilds, and did not use climbing boys. In Italy, Belgium, and France climbing boys were used.”

How many of you may have seen your parents hold a sheet of newspaper over a fireplace once the fire was lit to make it burn. I can well recall my father doing that and almost immediately the fire flared and the chimney caught alight. The next task was to throw a box of salt on the fire which caused a burst of gas that extinguished the flame, they hoped, or they had to call the fire brigade to put the fire out.

Don’t get caught out like our parent did, so this winter call your local, North Cyprus chimney sweep as shown below.

By Chris Elliott


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