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Child chimney sweeps outlawed

Posted in Anniversary, History, Law on Wednesday, 28 July 2010

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picture, chimney sweep and child apprentice

A chimney sweep and child apprentice. Illustration by Alberto Salinas

7 August marks the anniversary of the passing of an Act of Parliament in 1840 that outlawed child chimney sweeps. The job of cleaning out sooty chimneys grew alongside the growth of houses with fires and chimneys large enough hold a person. In many cases it would be a small child.

Legislation came into effect in 1788 to limit the number of apprentices and set a minimum age (8-years-old) for child chimney sweeps, but further legislation was required in 1840. This banned outright using anyone under the age of 21.

Chimney sweeps have occasionally featured in literature, most famously Tom in The Water Babies and Gamfield in Oliver Twist.

More pictures relating to chimney sweeps can be found here. Many more illustrations by artist Alberto Salinas can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

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