Woman Chimney Sweepers

March 23rd, 2012 by affordablesweep Leave a reply »

Growing up, Gina Somerton, 42, of Wells-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk, had dreamed of becoming a hairdresser and went on to work as a shop assistant and in restaurants.

But a conversation about possible alternative careers with her partner’s mother got the mum-of-three thinking that chimneys might be an ideal source of income; six years on, her business, Lady Sweep, is thriving.

“I wanted to be my own boss, I wanted to be able to spend time with my children during the summer,” she says. “It might sound strange to some people, but to me it’s perfect.

“It’s true that I get dirty. But I can come home and have a shower afterwards, can’t I?”

Photograph by Horace Nicholls of a woman chimney sweep in wartime Kent, undated.

Horace Nicholls was one of two professional photographers who were commissioned in 1917 by the Women’s Work Committee of the newly founded Imperial War Museum to take photographs of women at work during the First World War. This photograph shows a woman chimney sweep in Kent, ‘carrying on the business of her husband who was a sweep before the war’ – one of the many examples of women stepping into previously male-dominated professions during the period between 1914 and 1918.

FORMER call center worker Dawn Peters gave her old job the brush off — to become one of only three women chimney sweeps in Britain.


She started last October and now cleans up to four chimneys a day.

The ex-BT worker said: “I had to change careers because I can’t use a computer after I developed medical problems.

“My partner said I could do a better job than our sweep so I gave it a go. It’s a fantastic business if you don’t mind getting a bit dirty.”

Dawn, 36, of Exeter, Devon, added: “There are only three women registered with the Institute of Chimney Sweeps.

“You have to be fit — but there’s no reason why a woman can’t do it.”

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