Esoteric London

No. 61: N1, W1 and NW1

Posted in London Labour, Pavements by esotericlondon on May 24, 2010

Coal hole covers at various locations around London N1, W1 and NW1. Photos © Roger Dean 2009/2010

“Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey/Chim chim cher-ee/A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be” – Chim Chim Cher-ee, Richard & Robert Sherman, from Mary Poppins, 1964

Annual Register – January 16th, 1811:

A poor chimney sweeper’s boy lost his life in a most shocking manner in a chimney at a house in Orchard St, Westminster.  He went up a chimney to clean it, and got out at the top. On his return he got into a chimney belonging to the same house by mistake which had a fire at the bottom in which he got stuck fast, and was suffocated before relief could be rendered  him.

[ Chimney sweeps’ apprentices were known as “climbing boys” and were typically around the age of eight but it was not uncommon for poor parents to sell their off spring to the sweep at a much younger age for as little as a pound. It was important that they were of small stature in order that they could negotiate the narrow twisted chimneys of London at the time. Any nervousness or hesitation, on behalf of the child, to climb up into the soot filled crevice was often overcome by the sweep lighting a fire in the hearth beneath him. R.D.]

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