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Hello all and welcome to todays blog, today we will be looking at the chimney sweepers act of old.

A london chimney climbing boy often started work at the age of 4 years old

Chimney climbing boy

The Chimney Sweepers Act 1788 was a British Act of Parliament passed to try to stop child labour. Many boys as young as four were being used as Chimney Sweeps

This act stated that no boy should be a bound apprentice before he was eight years old. His parents’ consent must be obtained, the master sweep must promise to provide suitable clothing and living conditions, as well as an opportunity to attend church on Sundays.

The clause inserted into the Bill requiring the Master Sweep to be licensed was voted down in the House of Lords.

The house of lords emblem

House of lords logo

The Chimney Sweepers Act 1834 was a British Act of Parliament passed to try to stop child labour. Many boys as young as six were being used as chimney sweeps.

This act stated that an apprentice must express himself in front of a magistrate that he was willing and desirous.

Masters must not take on boys under the age of fourteen.

An apprentice could not be lent to another master.

The master could only have six apprentices.

Boys under the age of fourteen who were already apprenticed, must wear brass cap badges on a leather cap.

Apprentices were not allowed to climb flues to put out fires.

The Chimney Sweepers Regulation Act 1864 was an Act of Parliament that amended the Chimney Sweepers and Chimneys Regulation Act 1840.

This was passed as an attempt stop child labour.

Commissioners appointed in 1862 reported that several thousand children aged between five and fourteen years, including many girls, were working for master sweeps.

The Bill was proposed by Lord Shaftesbury.

Lord shaftsebury had a major role in the reform for helping child labour laws

Lord shaftsebury

This was widely ignored by the Master Sweep and the homeowners.

This Act proposed steep fines and imprisonment for non-compliant master sweeps.

It gave the police power to arrest sweeps thought to be breaking the law, and gave Board of Health Inspectors the authority to examine new or remodelled chimneys.

The Chimney Sweepers Act 1875 was a British Act of Parliament that superseded the Chimney Sweepers and Chimneys Regulation Act 1840 passed as an attempt to stop child labour.

The Bill was proposed by Lord Shaftesbury, triggered by the death of twelve-year-old George Brewster whose master had caused him to climb and clean the chimney at Fulbourn Hospital.

The 1840 Act prohibited any person under 21 being compelled or knowingly allowed to ascend or descend a chimney or flue for sweeping, cleaning or coring.

A london policer officer from the 1850s policing master chimney sweeps

1850’s London Police Officer

This Act ensured all chimney sweeps would be registered with the police, and official supervision of their work would take place.

The provisions of all previous acts would now take place.

In 1861 because of the lack of children not being sent to work underground in the coal mines, Coal became to be in short supply The cast iron fires having 5 or 6 high front frets were deemed to be burning too much coal because of the updraught. Therefore the “VESTA” Basket act was passed to lower the burning grate, hence the lowering of the front frets, burning much less coal and setting the pattern for the cast iron fires to come, this was the virtual end of the side hobs until Edwardian times

I hope you enjoyed reading this wonderful piece of history as much as I did.

If you would like to learn more about the chimney boys then Learn More Here!

Danny Hodgson Master Chimney Sweep Devon

6 Responses to “Chimney sweepers acts 1788-1875”

  1. Andy Barnes

    Fascinating History, Danny. It’s important to know the path followed of those who came before us. It’s harder to plan your future if you don’t know the past.

  2. Edmund Holland

    Over in Ireland I think in the late 1875 it was law over here to no children sweeps allowed but in 2005 some blue shirt in the government abolished that law stating it was an outdated English law

  3. John Crabtrwe

    In California to this day an apprentice can only work with a permit from the local school district. A master sweep of 47 years
    John Crabtree (retired)


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