The harden their elbows and knees their owners

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Last updated: September 11, 2019

The time period of the chimney sweeps was the victorian era.This era was very different from other eras the chimney sweeps were these boys that grown men would get from orphanages.Usually they would put these boys to work at young ages.The ages would range from as young as 4 years of age to around eight the reason for this was because these men needed small boys so they could fit into these tight chimneys to sweep them.

The reason this was so needed was because the only way of heating your home in the early 1900’s was to use coal burning fireplaces.With burning coal the drawback was if you didn’t keep up with your chimney,and clean the soot off  once or twice a year black smoke would go into the room.Usually the people would request a sweep to come early in the morning because of how it very messy after it was done and they would have time to clean.These boys were usually mistreated.

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These boys would always have cuts scrapes and bruises on their elbows .One of the things they would do to harden their elbows and knees their owners would put them next to a hot fire and rub in strong brine using a brush which would be painful.The masters of them didn’t feed them very much because they wanted them to maintain their narrow frame so the could fit in the chimneys.From being in tight confined spaces these boys would exhibit stunted growth and deformity of the spine arms and legs usually in the joints.This was because of the position they would be in it was very taxing on the joints as they were in this position for a very long period of time.For some boys there would be times that they would get stuck in these chimneys.

In this one case in 1875 at Fulbourn Hospital a twelve year old boy by the name of George Brewster had became stuck in the chimney they tore down walls to get him out but soon after rescue the boy died.The master of the boy William Wyer was charged with manslaughter.Later that year a bill was put out which outlawed the use of children as chimney sweeps George Brewster was the last child to die due to chimney sweeping.They had passed bills to prevent this before but they were ignored until this one was passed.It was called the Chimney Sweepers Act this act stated that all chimney sweepers had to be authorized by the police to carry on their business in the district.There were many other acts passed but not followed either because of the fine being low or it not being in forced.


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