Being a female chimney sweep is still pretty unusual. Firstly, because there isn’t that many chimney sweeps to start with. It is not as common job as it was in the 1800’s. It is estimated there are just over 5000 chimney sweeps currently in the UK, and in a recent interview of chimney sweep guru Mark Stoner on the Youtube channel “The Sweep show” he stated there are around 8000 chimney sweeps for the whole of the USA.
Considering the USA is around 340 million people, 8000 sweeps is pretty much an obscure trade. Or at least very niche and specialised.
There are no obvious statistics on how many chimney sweeps are female, as many chimney sweeps are independent and not affiliated to a particular trade body. So, evaluating their exact number and other specificities is not possible.
However, advances in technology has meant that chimney sweeping is not quite as physical as it once was. You see, the old cliché of the chimney and his brush is not completely gone, but as in most industries, there are now easier ways of doing hard tasks, powered by new technology and tools.
One such tool is “power sweeping”, whereby the sweep in effect attaches his brush to what looks like a drill gun. Has you press the trigger, the brush rotates at high speed and basically does the work for you. I simplify of course, there are complexities involved and power sweeping is not suited to every single job. Manual sweeping is still very much required in many cases. However, there are ways now to make your daily grind a lot less physical and tiring.
Female chimney sweeps have largely embraced the power sweeping technology. While it requires less physical strength, it provides a great level of service to the clients.
We recently read about Katy Kiteley, a female chimney sweep in Hastings, on the Southeast cost of England. Katy regularly works in Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne, Brighton, Lewis, Rye, Tunbridge Wells, Seven Oaks, Tenterden, Battle, Robertsbridge, Uckfield, Ashford, Crowborough, Newhaven.
While it looks like a wide area to cover, it is actually not too bad if you organise your chimney sweeping jobs strategically and plan your day efficiently. As Katy mentions in the article, people are often surprised when she arrives on a job and gets all kind of reactions. I’m sure a lot of people thought she was the admin lady booking the job for a male sweep, and were not expecting her to actually turn up on the job and do the work.
Well, it is a reality now. Being a chimney sweep in Hastings or anywhere else is a realistic option for women who are looking for an interesting, if unusual new career.