May 1st – or May Day as it is better known – has a long and proud history. And chimney sweeps played a major part in its creation.
Before Parliament passed the Chimney Sweepers and Chimneys Regulation Act in 1840, it was perfectly legal for sweeps to employ young children (usually boys) to clean chimneys. They were bought by sweeps from poor families, and some of the boys were as young as six years old.
This was because they were small enough to climb up flues and give them a good scrubbing. Unlike today, where a modern sweep like Mr Soot wears protective clothing and a mask, these boys breathed in large amounts of muck. They only bathed once a week and slept on sacks of soot. It’s little wonder they would become ill and were prone to the most awful of diseases.
As if life wasn’t hard enough, they only had one day off a year – May 1st.
On May Day each year, sweeps would join in celebrations in local towns and villages where dancing and other entertainment took place.
It’s because of this that, even to this day, May 1st is still known as the chimney sweeps’ holiday. There’s even a Chimney Sweeps Festival, which takes place in Medway, Kent, to mark the occasion.
So if you’re trying to book Mr Soot on May 1st, don’t be surprised if you have to wait a while. He may be out dancing around a local maypole!
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep offers a professional and friendly chimney sweep service in Wigan, Stockport, Southport, Ormskirk, Chorley, Warrington, South Preston and surrounding areas. Book Mr Soot online or call 0800 0541154.