The occupation of chimney sweep is considered to be one of the oldest in the world,
as chimneys have been around since ancient times, though it is only in the last two
hundred years that the chimney has grown large enough to hold a man.
With the increased urban population, the number of houses with chimneys grew in pace
and the occupation of chimney sweep became much respected and sought-after, although
sometimes derided in verse, ballad and pantomime.
In 1840 a law was passed making it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to sweep
chimneys. A Chimney Sweepers Act was passed in 1875 that required chimney sweepers
to be authorised
by the police to carry on their businesses in the district.
Today, venting systems for heating oil, natural gas, wood and pellet burning appliances,
including building furnaces and space heaters are maintained by modern chimney sweeps.
The standard chimney brush is still used, along with more modern tools (such as vacuums,
cameras and special chimney cleaning tools), although most sweeps are done from the
bottom of the chimney, rather than the top, to prevent the dispersion of dust and
In parts of Great Britain it is considered lucky for a bride to see a chimney sweep
on her wedding day. It is also considered good luck to shake hands with a chimney
sweep or to be blown a kiss
by one, but the origin of these traditions are unknown.
As a lucky symbol, depictions of chimney sweeps are a popular New Year's gift in
Germany; either as small ornaments attached to flower bouquets or candy, e.g. marzipan
In Croatia, chimney sweeps still wear a traditional all black uniform with small
It is considered good luck to rub one of your buttons if you pass one in the street.