Daughter sweeps in to take over business

A mother of two is keeping the traditional chimney sweep trade alive after taking over the family business her father started more than ten years ago.

Ginny Harrison has been working alongside her dad Robert Harrison for 12 months learning the trade and developing the skills to manage the business for the next generation of Harrisons.

With Father and daughter set to share the workload for the foreseeable future, the trade has seen a welcome boost in recent years with the increase in popularity of stoves and wood burners meaning there are more chimneys to be swept now than five years ago.

Miss Harrison said: “When my dad started talking about reducing his work load I thought it would be a shame to let the hard work he’d put into building a locally well known and trusted business be wasted so I began to think about whether it was a job I could do.

“Not a trade usually associated with women, and being a mother of two small children aged 4 and 1, I saw that I could work around child care and I liked the idea of continuing my Dads work and of working alongside him.”

The 1864 ‘Act for the regulation of chimney sweepers’ saw the end to children being used as sweeps, however little in principle has changed since then meaning a chimney sweeps main tools remain a brush on the end of rods screwed together for the height of the chimney. What has changed however is how clean the procedure is today with the use of industrial vacuum cleaners to ensure cleanliness.

Miss Harrison went on to say: “I’ve enjoyed learning about the different types of chimneys, fireplaces and stoves. There is a lot more to the job than I first thought, every job is individual and those that appear straightforward do not always turn out that way.

“There is not just the physical aspect to the sweeping, although that can be a challenge, but most importantly I need to choose the right equipment, use the correct techniques and respect my environment.”