In the 17th century chimneys were cleaned by boys as young as 7 years old. The master sweep would employ small boys to climb into the chimney and scrub the flue with small hand held brushes.

On occasions their bodies were rubbed in salt to allegedly toughen there skin against scrapes and bumps. It is rumoured that when the boys got stuck in narrow chimneys a fire would be lit in the fireplace to accelerate their struggling to therefore free them. It was a dangerous and dirty job for the boys to undertake and most would die from either soot suffocation or cancer.

Finally in 1864, after many years of campaigns led by Lord Shaftesbury, an act of parliament was approved which outlawed the use of chimney boys.