The Victorian Chimney Sweepers occured in the 18th century around the United Kingdom. The chimney sweepers were a working group of men that cleaned peoples chimneys yearly. If the chimneys were left uncleaned, the soot would get backed up and the house’s could catch on fire. Being that the houses were very close to one another, this was extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, children were the main ones going inside the chimneys, cleaning.
This type of thing was pretty normal for about 200 years. The use of children as chimney sweeps rose after the Great Fire of London that occured in September of 1666. As an attempt to rebuild everything chimney’s got narrower in an attempt to help prevent another fire. During this time, children were around the ages of three till they were no longer small enough to fit in the chimneys or till they’ve been abused so much they die or they get stuck in the chimney and die. How children would be picked is, men would either buy children from heartless parents that were willing to sell there children and have them work, orphanages, or they would pick up children from off the street. They gave them no pay whatsoever other than food every now and then if they’re lucky. The children had to look as if they were strong enough to handle the job, and not give out so early.
Children would climb up the chimney using their elbows, backs, and knees. Sometimes, the master sweeps would scrub their knees in an attempt to make them harder. In the beginning before calluses would grow, it would be nothing but dried up blood. Being inside the chimneys was pretty intense. While chimneys were very dusty children would be forced to get the job done quickly. If they went to slow, the men would send another child inside the chimney, take needles and poke the other ones feet.
The children would also never wear masks to protect them from the soot, causing risks of cancer and lung diseases. If a child got stuck from the tight corners or moving there body’s wrong, another child would be sent up to help force him out. They could only come out if the child died, or he was freed, sometimes they would tear the walls of the home to free them, but that was pretty rare. Also they hardly ever bathed, and most slept on the bags filled with the soot. In the early 1830’s the Parliament became more occupied with the raise of child labor. The Chimney Sweeps Act was passed in 1834 not allowing the abuse or unfair labor of any child below the age of ten and no child was to be allowed to clean chimneys under the age of fourteen. In 1840, an act was passed not allowing anyone under the age of 21 from working as a chimney sweeper, this act was called the Chimney Sweepers and Chimneys Regulation Act of 1840. Unfortunately, the act didn’t have a substantial effect because it only gave a small fine, as time went on in 1864, Chimney Sweepers Regulation Act was passed by Lord Shaftesbury.
Ultimately in 1875, the British parliament passed an act that all chimney sweeps had to be licensed. Licenses were only issued to sweeps that weren’t using young boys. As time passed, chimneys and chimney sweeps declined while modern day heating systems replaced the old chimneys and different professions replaced chimney sweepers. Now in modern day, children are not allowed to work until they are the age of 16. Unfortunately, children are still being kidnapped, abused, and sold for sex to this day.
Fortunately though, children are not being so abused and harmed as they used to, even though some are still being, it’s not as bad as it used to be.