London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2

Mayhew, Henry


Chimney-sweepers are a consequence of things—chimneys and the use of coals as fuel; and these are both commodities of comparatively recent introduction.

It is generally admitted that the earliest mention of is in an Italian MS., preserved in Venice, in which it is recorded that chimneys were thrown down in that city from the shock of an earthquake in . In England, down even to the commencement of the reign of Elizabeth, the greater part of the houses in our towns had no chimneys; the fire was kindled on a hearthstone on the floor, or on a raised grate against the wall or in the centre of the apartment, and the smoke found its way out of the doors, windows, or casements.

During the long, and—as regards civil strife— generally peaceful, reign of Elizabeth, the use of chimneys increased. In a Discourse prefixed to an edition of Holinshed's "Chronicles," in , Harrison, the writer, complains, among other things, "marvellously altered for the worse in England," of the multitude of chimneys erected of late. "Now we have many chimneys," he says, "and our tenderlings complain of rheums, catarrhs, and poses. Then we had none but , and our heads did never ache." He demurs, too, to the change in the material of which the houses were constructed: "Houses were once builded of willow, then we had oaken men; but now houses are made of oak, and our men not only become willow, but a great many altogether of straw, which is a sore alteration."



In Shakespeare's time, the chimney-sweepers seem to have become a recognised class of public cleansers, for in "Cymbeline" the poet says—

Fear no more the heat o' the sun,

Nor the furious winter's rages;

Thou thy worldly task hast done,

Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:

Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers come to dust.

In this beautiful passage there is an intimation, by the "chimney-sweepers" being contrasted with the "golden lads and girls," that their employment was regarded as of the meanest, a repute it bears to the present day.

But chimneys seem, like the "sweeps" or "sweepers," to have been a necessity of a change of fuel. In the days of "rere-dosses," our ancestors burnt only wood, so that they were not subjected to so great an inconvenience as we should be were our fires kindled without the vent of the chimney. Our fuel is coal, which produces a greater quantity of soot, and of black smoke, which is the result of imperfect combustion, than any other fuel, the smoke from wood being thin and pure in comparison.

The mention of the use of coal as fuel occurs in a charter of Henry III., granting licence to the burgesses of Newcastle to dig for coal. In Newcastle is said to have had some slight trade in this article. Shortly afterwards coal began to be imported into London for the use of smiths, brewers, dyers, soap-boilers, &c. In , during the reign of Edward I., its use in London was prohibited because of the supposed injurious influence of the smoke. In the use of coal in the metropolis became universal; about vessels were employed in the London trade, and about chaldrons annually imported.

In , however, there were, besides the railway-borne coals, cargoes imported, or tons. The London coal trade now employs vessels and seamen, and constitutes - of the whole general trade of the Thames.

To understand the for chimney-sweepers, and the extent of the work for them to do, that is to say, the quantity of soot deposited in our chimneys during the combustion of the and a half millions of tons of coals that are now annually consumed in London, we must comprehend the conditions upon which the evolution of soot depends, soot being simply the fine carbonaceous particles condensed from the smoke of coal fuel, and deposited against the sides of the chimneys during its ascent between the walls to the tops of our houses. These conditions appear to have been determined somewhat accurately during the investigations of the Smoke Prevention Committee.

There are kinds of smoke from the ordinary materials of combustion—(A) , or black smoke; (B) , or invisible smoke.

A. The smoke, though the most offensive and annoying from its dirtying properties, is, like the muddiest water, the least injurious to animal or vegetable health. It consists of the particles of unconsumed carbon which have not been deposited in the form of soot in the flue or chimney. This is the black smoke which will be further described.

B. smoke is composed of gases which are for the most part invisible, such as carbonic acid and carbonic oxide; also of sulphurous acid, but smokes with that component are both visible and invisible. The sulphurous acid is said by Professor Brande to destroy vegetation, for it has long been a cause of wonder why vegetation in towns did not flourish, since carbonic acid (which is so largely produced from the action of our fires) is the vital air of trees, shrubs, and plants.



I may here observe, that several of the scientific men who gave the results of years of observation and study in their evidence to the Committee of the , remarked on the popular misunderstanding of what smoke was, it being generally regarded as something But in the composition of smoke, it appears, product may be visible, and another invisible, and both offensive; while "occasionally you may have from the same materials varieties of products, all invisible, according to the manner to which they are supplied with air."

The Committee requested Dr. Reid to prepare a definition of "smoke," and more especially of "black smoke." The following is the substance of the doctor's definition, or rather description:—

. consists essentially of carbon separated by heat from coal or other combustible bodies. If this smoke be produced at a very high temperature, the carbon forms a loose and powdery soot, comparatively free from other substances; while the lower the temperature at which black soot is formed, the larger is the amount of other substances with which it is mingled, among which are the following:—carbon, water, resin, oily and other inflammable products of various volatilities, ammonia, and carbonate of ammonia.

When the carbon, oils, resin, and water are associated together in certain proportions, they constitute is produced if the tar be so far heated that the water is expelled; and (resin blackened by carbon) when the oils are volatilized.

In all cases of ordinary combustion, carbonic acid is formed by the red-hot cinders, or by gases or other compounds containing carbon, acting on the oxygen of the air. This carbonic acid is discharged in general as an gas. If the carbonic acid pass through red-hot cinders, or any carbonaceous smoke at a high temperature, it loses particle of oxygen, and becomes carbonic oxide gas. The lost oxygen, uniting with carbon, forms an additional amount of carbonic oxide gas, which passes to the external atmosphere as an invisible gas, unless kindled in its progress, or at the top of the chimney, when its temperature is sufficiently elevated by the action of air. Carbonic oxide gas burns with a blue flame, and produces carbonic acid gas.

Black smoke is always associated with carburetted hydrogen gases. These may be mechanically blended with the oils and resins, but must be carefully distinguished from them. They form more essentially, when in a state of combustion, the inflammable matters that constitute flame.

. , is always invisible if the material be dry. A flame may appear, however, if carbonic oxide be formed.

. is rarely black. Water and carbonic acid are the products of the full combustion of wood, omitting the consideration of the ash that remains.

. Tons of sulphur are annually evolved in various conditions from copperworks. Offensive sulphurous smokes are often evolved from various chemical works, as gas-works, acid-works, &c.

. is evolved in general in large quantities from alkali works.

. —when ores of lead, copper, arsenic, &c., are used—often contain offensive matter in a minute state of division, and suspended in the smoke evolved from the furnaces.

. , loaded with the products of decayed animal and vegetable matter, are evolved at times from drains in visible vapours, more especially in damp weather. The fœtid particles, when associated with moisture in this smoke, are entirely decomposed when subjected to heat.

Dr. Ure says, speaking of the cause of the ordinary black smoke above described, "The inevitable conversion of atmospheric air into carbonic acid has been hitherto the radical defect of almost all furnaces. The consequence is, that this gaseous matter is mixed with an atmosphere containing far too little oxygen, and instead of burning the carbon and hydrogen, which constitute the coal gases, the carbon is deposited partly in a pulverized form, constituting smoke or soot, and a great deal of the carbon gets half-burnt, and forms what is well known under the name of carbonic oxide, which is half-burnt charcoal."

"The ordinary smoke," Professor Faraday said, in his examination before the Committee, "is the visible black part of the products, the unburnt portions of the carbon. If you prevent the production of carbonic oxide or carbonic acid, you increase the production of smoke. You must with coal fuel either have carbonic acid or oxide, or else black smoke.

Which is the least noxious?" he was asked, and answered, "As far as regards health, carbonic acid and carbonic oxide are most noxious to health; but it is not so much a question of health as of cleanliness and comfort, because I believe that this town is as healthy as other places where there are not these fires.

It is partly the impure coal gas evolved after the fresh charge of coal which originates the smokes, when not properly supplied with air; but it is a very mixed question. When a fresh charge of coal is put upon the fire, a great quantity of evaporable matter, which would be called impure coal gas according to the language of the question, is produced; and as that matter travels on in the heated place, if there be a sufficient supply of air, both the hydrogen and the carbon are entirely burnt. But if there be an insufficient supply of air, the hydrogen is taken possession of first, and the carbon is set free in its black and solid form; and if that goes into the cool part of the chimney before fresh air gets to it, that carbon is so carried out into the atmosphere and is the smoke in question. Generally speaking, the great rush of smoke is when coal is first put on the fire; and that from the want of a sufficient supply of oxygen at the right time, because the carbon is cooled so low as not to take fire.

This eminent chemist stated also that there was no difference in the ultimate chemical effect upon the air between a wood fire and a coal fire, but with wood there was not so much smoke set free in the heated place, which caused a difference in the gaseous products of wood combustion and of coal combustion. He thought that perhaps wood was the fuel which would be most favourable to health as affecting the atmosphere, inasmuch as it produced more water, and less carbonic acid, as the product of combustion.

What may be called the of a smoky and sooty atmosphere are of course more strongly developed in London than elsewhere, as the following curious statements show:—

Dr. Reid, in describing metropolitan smoke, spoke of "those black portions of soot that every is familiar with, which annoy us, for instance, at the Houses of Parliament to such an extent that I have been under the necessity of putting up a veil, about feet long and feet deep, on which, on a single evening, taking the worst kind of weather for the production of soot, we can count occasionally visible portions of soot excluded at a single sitting. We count with the naked eye the number of pieces entangled upon a square inch. I have examined the amount deposited on different occasions in different parts of London at the tops of some houses; and on occasion at the the amount of soot deposited was so great, that it formed a complete and continuous film, so that when I walked upon it I saw the impression of my foot left as distinctly on that occasion as when snow lies upon the ground. The film was exceedingly thin, but I could discover no want of continuity. On other occasions I have noticed in London that the quantity that escapes into individual houses is so great that in a single night I have observed a mixture of soot and of hoar frost collecting at the edge of the door, and forming a stripe threequarters of an inch in breadth, and bearing an exact resemblance to a pepper and salt grey cloth. Those that I refer to are extreme occasions."

Mr. Booth mentioned, that of the gardeners of the Botanic Garden in the Regent'spark, could tell the number of days sheep had been in the park from the blackness of their wool, its oleaginous power retaining the black.

Dr. Ure informed the Committee that a column of smoke might be seen extending in different directions round London, according to the way of the wind, for a distance of from to miles; and that Sir William Herschel had told him that when the wind blew from London he could not use his great telescope at Slough.

It was stated, moreover, that when a respirator is washed, the water is rendered dirty by the particles of soot adhering to the wire gauze, and which, but for this, would have entered the mouth.

Professor Brande said, on the subject of the public health being affected by smoke, "I cannot say that my opinion is that smoke produces any unhealthiness in London; it is a great nuisance certainly; but I do not think we have any good evidence that it produces disease of any kind."

"This Committee," said Mr. Beckett, "have been told that, by the mechanical effects of smoke upon the chest and lungs, disease takes place; that is, by swallowing a certain quantity of smoke the respiratory organs are injured; can you give any opinion upon that?"—" would conceive," replied the Professor, "that that is the case; but when we compare the health of London with that of any other town or place where they are comparatively free or quite free from smoke, we do not find that difference which we should expect in regard to health."

Mr. E. Solly, lecturer on chemistry at the Royal Institution, expressed his opinion of the effect of smoke upon the health of towns:—

My impression is," he said, "that it produces decided evil in two or three ways: first, mechanically; the solid black carbonaceous matter produces a great deal of disease; it occasions dirt amongst the lower orders, and, if they will not take pains to remove it, it engenders disease. If we could do away the smoke nuisance, I believe a great deal of that disease would be put an end to. But there is another point, and that is, the bad effects produced by the gases, sulphurous acid and other compounds of that nature, which are given out. If we do away with smoke, we shall still have those gases; and I have no doubt that those gases produce a great part of the disease that is produced by smoke.

On the other hand Dr. Reid thought that smoke was more injurious from the dirt it created than from causing impurity in the atmosphere, although "it was obvious enough that the inspiration of a sooty atmosphere must be injurious to persons of a delicate constitution." Dr. Ure pronounced smoke, in the common sense of visible black smoke, unwholesome, but "not so eminently as the French imagine."

Many witnesses stated their conviction that where poor people resided amongst smoke, they


felt it impossible to preserve cleanliness in their persons or their dwellings, and that made them careless of their homes and indifferent to a decency of appearance, so that the public-house, and places where cleanliness and propriety were in no great estimation, became places of frequent resort, on the plain principle that if a man's home were uncomfortable, he was not likely to stay in it.

I think," said Mr. Booth, "one great effect of the evil of smoke is upon the dwellings of the poor; it renders them less attentive to their personal appearance, and, in consequence, to their social condition.

It was also stated that there were "certain districts inhabited by the poor, where they will not hang out their clothes to be cleansed; they say it is of no use to do it, they will become dirty as before, and consequently they do not have their clothes washed." The districts specified as presenting this characteristic are St. George's-in--the East and the neighbourhood of , St. Luke's.

It must not be lost sight of, that whatever evils, moral or physical, without regarding merely pecuniary losses, are inflicted by the excess of smoke, they fall upon the poor, and almost solely on the poor. It is the poor who must reside, as was said, and with a literality not often applicable to popular phrases, "in the thick of it," and consequently there must either be increased washing or increased dirt.

To effect the mitigation of the nuisance of smoke, points were considered:—

A. The substitution of some other material, containing less bituminous matter, for the "Newcastle coal."

B. The combustion of the smoke, before its emission into the atmospheric air, by means of mechanical contrivances founded on scientific principles.

As regards the consideration (A) it was recommended that anthracite, or stone Welsh coal, which is a smokeless fuel, should be used instead of the Newcastle coal. This coal is almost the sole fuel in Philadelphia, a city of Quaker neatness beyond any in the United States of North America, and sometimes represented as the cleanest in the world. The anthracite coal is somewhat dearer than Newcastle coal in London, but only in a small degree.

was also recommended as a substitute for coal in private dwellings.

Are you of opinion," Dr. Reid was asked, "that smoke may be in a great measure prevented by extending the use of gas and coke?" He answered, "In numerous cities, where large quantities of gas are produced, coke is very frequently the principal fuel of the poor, and the difficulty of lighting that coke, and the difficulty of having heat developed by it in sufficient quantity, necessarily led me to look at the construction of the fire-places adapted for it. And on a general review of the question, I do entertain the opinion, that if education were more extended amongst the humblest classes with respect to the economy of their own fireside (I mean, literally, the fire-place, at present), and if gas were greatly extended, so that they did not drain the coal of the gas-works of the last dregs of gaseous matter, which are of very little use as gas, and more to be considered as adding to the bulk for sale than as valuable gas, that a coke might be left which would be easily accendible, which would be economical, and which, if introduced into fire-places where an open fire is desired, would entirely remove the necessity of sweeping chimneys even with machines, and would at the same time give as economical a fire as any ordinary fire-place can produce, for an ordinary coal fire rarely is powerful in its calorific emanations till the mass of gas has been expelled, and we see the cherry-red fire. The amount of gas that has escaped previously to the production or coking of the fire, is the gas that is valuable in a manufactory, and if therefore the individual consumer could have, not the hard-burnt stony coke, but the soft coke, in the condition that would give at once a cherry-red fire, we should attain the two great objects—of economising gas, and at the same time of having a lively cheerful fire. Then this led me to look particularly at the price of a gas lamp for a poor man. In a poor man's family, where the breakfast, the tea and dinner, require the principal attention, and he has some plain cooking utensils, in the heat of summer I believe that he will produce as much heat as he wants for those purposes from a single burner, which can be turned on and left all day, which shall not risk any boiling over, and by having this pure heat directed to the object to be warmed, instead of having a heavy iron grate, this plan would, if gas were generally introduced even into the humblest apartments, prove a great source of economy in summer.

Dr. Reid also told the Committee that there was a great prejudice against the use of coke, many persons considering that it produced a sulphurous smell; but as all ordinary coal coked itself, or became coke in an open fire, and was never powerfully calorific till it became coke, the prejudice would die away.

Very little is said in the Report about the smoke of private houses; an allusion, however, is made to that portion of the investigation:—"Your Committee have received the most gratifying assurances of the confident hope entertained by several of the highest scientific authorities examined by them, that the black smoke proceeding from fires in private dwellings, and all other places, may eventually be entirely prevented, either by the adoption of stoves and grates formed for a perfect combustion of the common bituminous coal, or by the use of coke, or of anthracite; but they are of opinion that the present knowledge on that subject is not such as to justify any legislative interference with these smaller fires."

"I should, in prospect," Professor Faraday said to the Committee, "look forward to the possibility of a great reduction of the smoke from coal fires in houses; but my impression is, that, in the present state of things, it would be tyrannical to determine that that must be done which at present we do not know can be done. Still, I think there


is reason to believe that it can be effected in a very high degree."

Dr. Ure also thought that to extend any smoke enactment to private dwellings might be tyrannical in the present state of the chimneys, but he had no doubt that smoke might be consumed in fires in private dwellings.

Such, then, are the causes and remedies for smoke, and consequently of soot, for smoke, or rather opaque smoke, consists, as we have seen, of merely the gases of combustion with minute particles of carbon diffused throughout them; and as smoke is the result of the imperfect burning of our coals, it follows that chimneysweepers are but a consequence of our ignorance, and that, as we grow wiser in the art of economising our fuel, we shall be gradually displacing this branch of labourers—the means of preventing smoke being simply the mode of displacing the chimney-sweepers—and this is another of the many facts to teach us that not only are we doubling our population in years, but we are likewise learning every year how to do our work with a less number of workers, either by inventing some piece of mechanism that will enable "hand" to do as much as , or else doing away with some branch of labour altogether. Here lies the great difficulty of the time. A new element—science, with its offspring, steam—has been introduced into our society within the last century, decreasing labour at a time when the number of our labourers has been increasing at a rate unexampled in history; and the problem is, how to reconcile the new social element with the old social institutions, doing as little injury as possible to the community.

Suppose, for instance, the "smoke nuisance" entirely prevented, and that Professor Faraday's prophecy as to the great reduction of the smoke from coal fires in houses were fulfilled, and that the expectations of the sanguine and intense Committee, who tell us that they have "received assurances of the hope entertained by several of authorities, that the black smoke proceeding from fires in private dwellings and all other places may be eventually prevented,"—suppose that these expectations, I say, be realized (and there appears to be little doubt of the matter), what is to become of the to "sweeps" who live, as it were, upon this very smoke? Surely the whole community should not suffer for them, it will be said. True; but unfortunately the same argument is being applied to each particular section of the labouring class,—and the labourers make up by far the greater part of the community. If we are daily displacing a labourers by the annihilation of this process, and another by the improvement of that, what is to be the fate of those we put on side? and where shall we find employment for the new "hands" that are daily coming into existence among us? This is the great problem for earnest thoughtful men to work out!

But we have to deal here with the chimney- sweepers as they are, and not as they may be in a more scientific age. And, , as to annually deposited at present in the London chimneys.

The quantity of soot produced in the metropolis every year may be ascertained in the following manner:—

The larger houses are swept in some instances once a month, but generally once in months, and yield on an average bushels of soot per year. A moderate-sized house, belonging to the "middle class," is usually swept times a year, and gives about bushels of soot per annum; while houses occupied by the working and poorer classes are seldom swept more than twice, and sometimes only once, in the twelvemonth, and yield about bushels of soot annually.

The larger houses — the residences of noblemen and the more wealthy gentry—may, then, be said to produce an average of bushels of soot annually; the houses of the more prosperous tradesmen, about bushels; while those of the humbler classes appear to yield only bushels of soot per annum. There are, according to the last returns, in round numbers, inhabited houses at present in the metropolis, and these, from the "reports" of the income and property tax, may be said to consist, as regards the average rentals, of the proportions given in the next page.

Here we see that the number of houses whose average rental is above is ; while those whose average rental is above , and below , are in number; and those whose rental is below are as many as ; the average rental for all London, Now, adopting the estimate before given as to the proportionate yield of soot from each of these classes of houses, we have the following items:—

   Bushels of Soot per Annum. 
 53,840 houses at a yearly rental above 50l., producing 6 bushels of soot each per annum . . . 323,040 
 90,002 houses at a yearly rental above 30l. and below 50l., producing 5 bushels of soot each per annum . 450,010 
 163,880 houses at a yearly rental below 30l., producing 2 bushels of soot each per annum . . . 327,760 
 Total number of bushels of soot annually produced throughout London . 1,100,810 

This calculation will be found to be nearly correct if tried by another mode. The quantity of soot depends greatly upon the amount of volatile or bituminous matter in the coals used. By a table given at p. of the volume of this work it will be seen that the proportion of volatile matter contained in the several kinds of coal are as follows:—

Cannel or gas coals contain to per cent. of volatile matter.


   Average Rental. Number of Houses.   Average Rental. Number of Houses.   Average Rental. Number of Houses. 
   £     £     £   
 Hanover--square,     Poplar . . . . 44 6,882 Chelsea . . . 29 7,629 
 May Fair . 150 8,795 Pancras . . . 41 18,731 Wandsworth . . 29 8,290 
 St. James's . . 128 3,460 Hampstead . . 40 1,719 St. Luke's . . 28 6,421 
 St. Martin's . . 119 2,323 Kensington . . 40 17,292 Lambeth . . . 28 20,520 
 London City . . 117 7,329 Clerkenwell . . 38 7,259 Lewisham . . . 27 5,936 
 Marylebone . . 71 15,955 East London . . 38 4,785 Whitechapel . . 26 8,832 
 Strand . . . . 66 3,938 St. Saviour's . . 36 4,613 Hackney . . . 25 9,861 
 West London . 65 2,745 Westminster . . 36 6,647 Camberwell . . 25 9,417 
 St. Giles's . . . 60 4,778 St. Olave's . . 35 2,365 Rotherhithe . . 23 2,834 
 Holborn . . . 52 4,517 Islington . . . 35 13,558 St. George's, Southwark . . . 22 7,005 
     ------ St. George'sin-- the-East . . 32 6,151 Newington . . . 22 10,468 
           ------ Greenwich . . . 22 14,423 
           90,002 Shoreditch . . . 20 15,433 
             Stepney . . . 20 16,346 
             Bermondsey . . 18 7,095 
             Bethnal Green . . 9 13,370 

Newcastle or "house" coals, about per cent.

Lancashire and Yorkshire coals, to per cent.

South Welsh or "steam" coals, to per cent.

Anthracite or "stone" coals, none.

The house coals are those chiefly used throughout London, so that every ton of such coals contains about lbs. of volatile matter, a considerable proportion of which appears in the form of smoke; but what proportion and what is the weight of the carbonaceous particles or soot evolved in a given quantity of smoke, I know of no means of judging. I am informed, however, by those practically acquainted with the subject, that a ton of ordinary house coals will produce between a and a half of a bushel of soot. Now there are, say, tons of coal consumed annually in London; but a large proportion of this quantity is used for the purposes of gas, for factories, breweries, chemical works, and steam-boats. The consumption of coal for the making of gas in London, in , was tons; so that, including the quantity used in factories, breweries, &c., we may, perhaps, estimate the domestic consumption of the me- tropolis at tons yearly, which, for houses, would give tons per house. And when we remember the amount used in large houses and in hotels, as well as by the smaller houses, where each room often contains a different family, this does not appear to be too high an average. Mr. M'Culloch estimates the domestic consumption at ton per head, men, women, and children; and since the number of persons to each house in London is ., this would give nearly the same result. Estimating the yield of soot to be -eighths of a bushel per ton, we have, in round numbers, bushels of soot as the gross quantity deposited in the metropolitan chimneys every year.

Or, to check the estimate another way, there are master sweepers throughout London. A master sweeper in a "large way of business" collects, I am informed, day with another, from to bushels of soot; on the other hand, small master, or "single-handed" chimney-sweeper is able to gather only about bushels, and scarcely that. master sweeper said that about bushels a day would, he thought, be a fair average quantity for all the masters, reckoning day with another; so that at this rate we should have bushels for the gross quantity of soot annually collected throughout the metropolis.

We may therefore assume the aggregate yield of soot throughout London to be bushels per annum. Now what is done with this immense mass of refuse matter? Of what use is it?


It is used by them principally for meadow land, and frequently for land where wheat is grown; not so much, I understand, as a manure, as for some quality in it which destroys slugs and other insects injurious to the crops. Lincolnshire is of the great marts for the London soot, whither it is transported by railway. In Hertfordshire, Cambridge, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and Kent, however, and many other parts, London soot is used in large quantities; there are persons who have large stores for its reception, who purchase it from the master sweepers, and afterwards sell it to the farmers and send it as per order, to its destination. These are generally the manure-merchants, of whom the Post-Office Directory gives names, being marked as dealers in guano. I was told by a sweeper in a large way of business that he thought these men bought from a half to threequarters of the soot; the remainder being bought by the land-cultivators in the neighbourhood of London. Soot is often used by gardeners to keep down the insects which infest their gardens.

collected throughout London is the next subject to engage our attention. Many sweepers have represented it as a very curious fact, and for which they could advance no sufficient reason, that the price of a bushel of soot was regulated by the price of the quartern loaf, so that you had only to know that the quartern loaf was to know that such was the price of a bushel of soot. This, however, is hardly the case at present; the price of the quartern loaf (not regarding the "seconds," or inferior bread), is now, at the end of , to according to quality. The price of soot per bushel is but , and sometimes but , but may be taken as an average.

Now bushels of soot, at , will be found to yield per annum. But the whole of this quantity is not collected by the chimney-sweepers, for many of the poorer persons seldom have their chimneys swept; and by the table given in another place, it will be seen that not more than bushels are obtained in the course of the year by the London "sweeps." Hence we may say, that there are bushels of soot annually collected from the London chimneys, and that this is worth not less than per annum.

, and how do they collect it, and what do they get, individually and collectively, for so doing?

To begin with the number of master and journeymen sweepers employed in removing these bushels of soot from our chimneys: according to the Census returns, the number of "sweeps" in the metropolis in the years and were as follows:—

       Increase in ten 
 Chimney-sweepers. 1841. 1831. years. 
 Males, 20 years and upwards 619 421 198 
 " under 20 years 370 no returns.   
 Females, 20 years & upwards 44 "   

But these returns, such as they are, include both employers and employed, in confused mass. To disentangle the economical knot, we must endeavour to separate the number of master sweepers from the journeymen. According to the Post-Office Directory the master sweepers amount to no more than , and thus there would be more than for the number of the metropolitan journeymen sweepers; these statements, however, appear to be very wide of the truth.

In it was represented to the , that there were within the bills of mortality, masters, all—except the "great gentlemen," as witness described them, who were about in number—themselves working at the business, and that they had journeymen and upwards of apprentices, so that there must then have been working sweepers altogether, young and old.

These numbers, it must be borne in mind, were comprised in the limits of the bills of mortality years ago. The parishes in the old bills of mortality were ; there are now in the metropolis proper , and, as a whole, the area is much more densely covered with dwelling-houses. Taking but the last years, to , the inhabited houses have increased from to , or, in round numbers, .

Now in the number of inhabited houses in the metropolis was , and in it was ; hence in we may assume the inhabited houses to have been about ; and since this number required working sweepers to cleanse the London chimneys, it is but a rule of sum to find how many would have been required for the same purpose in , when the inhabited houses had increased to ; this, according to Cocker, is about ; so that we must come to the conclusion either that the number of working sweepers had not kept pace with the increase of houses, or that the returns of the census were as defective in this respect as we have found them to be concerning the street-sellers, dustmen, and scavagers. Were we to pursue the same mode of calculation, we should find that if sweepers were required to cleanse the chimneys of houses, there should be such labourers in London now that the houses are in number.

But it will be seen that in more than onehalf (or out of ) of the working chimneysweepers were apprentices, and in the chimney-sweepers under years of age, if we are to believe the census, constituted more than - of the whole body (or out of ). Now as the use of climbing boys was prohibited in , of course this large proportion of the


trade has been rendered useless; so that, estimating the master and journeymen sweepers at in , it would appear that about would be required to sweep the chimneys of the metropolis at present. To these, of course, must be added the extra number of journeymen necessary for managing the machines. And considering the journeymen to have increased threefold since the abolition of the climbing boys, we must add to the above number, which will make the sum total of the individuals employed in this trade to amount to very nearly .

By inquiries throughout the several districts of the metropolis, I find that there are altogether master sweepers at present in London; of these are large masters, who seldom go out on a round, but work to order, having a regular custom among the more wealthy classes; while the other consist of small masters and "singlehanded" masters, who travel on various rounds, both in London and the suburbs, seeking custom. Of the whole number, reside within the City boundaries; from to live on the Surrey side, and on the Middlesex side of the Thames (without the City boundaries). A large master employs from to men, and boys; and a small only men or sometimes man and a boy, while a single-handed master employs no men nor boys at all, but does all the work himself.

The masters employ among them foremen, journeymen, and boys, or hands, and adding to them the single-handed master-men who work at the business themselves, we have working men in all; so that, on the whole, there are not less than between and persons employed in cleansing the London chimneys of their soot.

The next point that presents itself in due order to the mind is, as to the that is to say, how are the bushels of soot collected from the houses by these working sweepers? But this involves a short history of the trade.


[] Reredos, dossel (retable, Fr.; postergule, Ital.)," according to Parker's Glossary of Architecture, was "the wall or screen at the back of an altar, seat, &c.; it was usually ornamented with panelling, &c., especially behind an altar, and sometimes was enriched with a profusion of niches, buttresses, pinnacles, statues, and other decorations, which were often painted with brilliant colours. The open fire-hearth, frequently used in ancient domestic halls, was likewise called a reredos. In the description of Britain prefixed to Holinshed's 'Chronicles,' we are told that formerly, before chimneys were common in mean houses, 'each man made his fire against a reredosse in the hall, where he dined and dressed his meat.' The original word would appear to be dosel or reredosel; for Kelham, in his "Norman Dictionary," explains the word doser or dosel to signify a hanging or canopy of silk, silver, or gold work, under which kings or great personages sit; also the back of a chair of state (the word being probably a derivative of the Latin dorsum, the back. Dos, in slang, means a bed, a "dossing crib" being a sleeping-place, and has clearly the same origin). A rere-dos or rere-dosel would thus appear to have been a screen placed behind anything. I am told, that in the old houses in the north of England, erections at the back of the fire may, to this day, occasionally be seen, with an aperture behind for the insertion of plates, and such other things as may require warming. A correspondent says there is "a 'reredos,' or open fire-hearth, now to be seen in the extensive and beautiful ruins of the Abbey of St. Agatha, in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The ivy now hangs over and partially conceals this reredos; but its form is tolerably perfect, and the stones are still coloured by the action of the fire, which was extinguished, I need hardly say, by the cold water thrown on such places' by Henry VIII."

[] It has been notorious for many years, that flowers will not bloom in any natural luxuriance, and that fruit will not properly ripen, in the heart of the city. Whilst this is an unquestionable fact, it is also a fact, that greatly as suburban dwellings have increased, and truly as London may be said to have "gone into the country," the greater quantity of the large, excellent, unfailing, and cheap supply of the fruits and vegetables in the London "green" markets are grown within a circle of from ten to twelve miles from St. Paul's. In the course of my inquiries (in the series of letters on Labour and the Poor in the Morning Chronicle) into the supply, &c., to the "green markets" of the metropolis, I was told by an experienced market-gardener, who had friends and connections in several of the suburbs, that he fancied, and others in the trade were of the same opinion, that no gardening could be anything but a failure if attempted within "where the fogs went." My informant explained to me that the fogs, so peculiar to London, did not usually extend beyond three or four miles from the heart of the city. He was satisfied, he said, that within half a mile or so of this reach of fog the gardener's labours might be crowned with success. He knew nothing of any scientific reason for his opinion, but as far as a purely London fog extended (without regard to any mist pervading the whole country as well as the neighbourhood of the capital), he thought it was the boundary within which there could be no proper growth of fruit or flowers. That the London fog has its limits as regards the manifestation of its greatest density, there can be no doubt. My informant was frequently asked, when on his way home, by omnibus drivers and others whom he knew, and met on their way to town a few miles from it: "How's the fog, sir? How far?" The extent of the London fog, then, if the information I have cited be correct, may be considered as indicating that portion of the metropolis where the population, and consequently the smoke, is the thickest, and within which agricultural and horticultural labours cannot meet with success. "The nuisance of a November fog in London," Mr. Booth stated to the Smoke Committee, "is most assuredly increased by the smoke of the town, arising from furnaces and private fires. It is vapour saturated with particles of carbon which causes all that uneasiness and pain in the lungs, and the uneasy sensations which we experience in our heads. I have no doubt of the density of these fogs arising from this carbonaceous matter." The loss from the impossibility of promoting vegetation in the district most subjected to the fog is nothing, as the whole ground is already occupied for the thousand purposes of a great commercial city. The matter is, however, highly curious, as a result of the London smoke. Concerning the frequency of fogs in the district of the immediate neighbourhood of the metropolis, it is stated in Weale's "London," that fogs "appear to be owing, 1st, to the presence of the river; and, 2ndly, to the fact that the superior temperature of the town produces results precisely similar to those we find to occur upon rivers and lakes. The cold damp currents of the atmosphere, which cannot act upon the air of the country districts, owing to the equality of their specific gravity, when they encounter the warmer and lighter strata over the town, displace the latter, intermixing with it and condensing the moisture. Fogs thus are often to be observed in London, whilst the surrounding country is entirely free from them. The peculiar colour of the London fogs appears to be owing to the fact that, during their prevalence, the ascent of the coal smoke is impeded, and that it is thus mixed with the condensed moisture of the atmosphere. As is well known, they are often so dense as to require the gas to be lighted in midday, and they cover the town with a most dingy and depressing pall. They also frequently exhibit the peculiarity of increasing density after their first formation, which appears to be owing to the descent of fresh currents of cold air towards the lighter regions of the atmosphere. "They do not occur when the wind is in a dry quarter, as for instance when it is in the east; notwithstanding that there may be very considerable difference in the temperature of the air and of the water or the ground. The peculiar odour which attends the London fogs has not yet been satisfactorily explained; although the uniformity of its recurrence, and its very marked character, would appear to challenge elaborate examination."

[] The quantity of soot deposited depends greatly on the length, draught, and irregular surface of the chimney. The kitchen flue yields by far the most soot for an equal quantity of coals burnt, because it is of greater length. The quantity above cited is the average yield from the several chimneys of a house. It will be seen hereafter that the quantity collected is only 800,000 bushels; a great proportion of the chimneys of the poor being seldom swept, and some cleansed by themselves.

[] Soot of coal is said, by Dr. Ure, in his admirable Dictionary of Arts and Manufactures, to contain "sulphate and carbonate of ammonia along with bituminous matter."

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 Title Page
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals
Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and Natural Curiosities
Of the Street-Buyers
Of the Street-Jews
Of the Street-Finders or Collectors
Of the Streets of London
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Sweepers of Old, and the Climbing Boys
Of the Chimney-Sweepers of the Present Day
Of the General Characteristics of the Working Chimney-Sweepers
Sweeping of the Chimneys of Steam-Vessels
Of the 'Ramoneur' Company
Of the Brisk and Slack Seasons, and the Casual Trade among the Chimney- Sweepers
Of the 'Leeks' Among the Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Inferior Chimney-Sweepers -- the 'Knullers' and 'Queriers'
Of the Fires of London
Of the Sewermen and Nightmen of London
Of the Wet House-Refuse of London
Of the Means of Removing the Wet House-Refuse
Of the Quantity of Metropolitan Sewage
Of Ancient Sewers
Of the Kinds and Characteristics of Sewers
Of the Subterranean Character of the Sewers
Of the House-Drainage of the Metropolis as Connected With the Sewers
Of the London Street-Drains
Of the Length of the London Sewers and Drains
Of the Cost of Constructing the Sewers and Drains of the Metropolis
Of the Uses of Sewers as a Means of Subsoil Drainage
Of the City Sewerage
Of the Outlets, Ramifications, Etc., of the Sewers
Of the Qualities, Etc., of the Sewage
Of the New Plan of Sewerage
Of the Management of the Sewers and the Late Commissions
Of the Powers and Authority of the Present Commissions of Sewers
Of the Sewers Rate
Of the Cleansing of the Sewers -- Ventilation
Of 'Flushing' and 'Plonging,' and Other Modes of Washing the Sewers
Of the Working Flushermen
Of the Rats in the Sewers
Of the Cesspoolage and Nightmen of the Metropolis
Of the Cesspool System of London
Of the Cesspool and Sewer System of Paris
Of the Emptying of the London Cesspools by Pump and Hose
Statement of a Cesspool-Sewerman
Of the Present Disposal of the Night-Soil
Of the Working Nightmen and the Mode of Work