Glasgow memories: the day the city’s chimney sweep got it wrong

Former Regular Times reader Dan Harris contacted us after we published a story about the lost but not forgotten jobs that were once a feature of our streets, such as chapper-uppers, ragpickers and lamplighters.

“The picture of the chimney sweep reminded me of a calamitous incident in the building where I lived when I was younger, we were on the top floor,” smiles Dan.

“In his left arm, the sweeper in the photo holds a soot-collecting sheet, which served a dual purpose.

“First, it was draped with the mantel over the fireplace, to prevent the loosened soot from spilling onto the floor of the room.

Glasgow chimney sweep. Photo: Glasgow City Archives

“Then, once the soot had been removed from the chimney, the chimney sweep would skilfully collect it from the sheet metal.

“However, I remember one day the chimney sweep came to our apartment to clean our chimney.”

Dan adds: “Everything was fine and he did everything he was supposed to do – until we heard the residents in the rooms below us screaming in horror, and we realized he had swept the bad chimney…

“These poor people, and their kitchen, were covered in soot…”

READ MORE: Chapper-uppers and leeries – memories of Glasgow’s long-lost jobs

Dan says the subject of fireplaces brings back another memory, when he and his band of buddies who, as boys, supported Patrick Thistle.

“We blame the infamous Firhill Lum for our lack of size,” he jokes.

“We started going to Firhill when we were in primary school.

“We were so young and small, we were carried over the bends for free and sat on our dad’s shoulders to watch the game.

“Unfortunately we were at the end which faced the climb to the buildings where this infamous Firhill Lum was located.

“On too many occasions when Thistle lost a game someone would turn on their lum and the smoke would descend towards us, first covering the faces of those of us high on the shoulders.”

He laughs: “The gas central heating saved future generations from the fate suffered by mine…”.

This fantastic photograph from the Glasgow City Archives captures a city chimney sweep ready for action, and the photo from our own archives reminds us of just how difficult the life of a chimney sweep can be.

Alexander Matheson, 65, was photographed saving Tiger the kitten from the fireplace in September 1955.

On the subject of long-lost jobs, Mike Lewis got in touch a few weeks ago in an attempt to track down a Glasgow brush maker company in Dennistoun as part of his family tree research.

One reader, who gave only her name of Sheila, says she remembers a brush-making business at 221 Caledonia Road around the 1940s and 1950s.

It’s a bit far from Dennistoun, but we passed the details on to Mike.

“It was up close, we called it High Backs ground,” she said. “Three men seated at a table, with buckets of tar, made the brushes.

“The windows opened inwards, but we stood in front of the iron bars outside until a neighbor on the first floor chased us. I’m over 80 now, but I remember it so well.

Can other readers help Mike find his brush ancestors?

Does anyone else remember the Firhill Lum, or did your father or grandfather work as a chimney sweep?

What long-lost occupations do you remember of yesteryear? We would love to hear from them.

Share your memories and photos with Times Past by contacting us.

You can email [email protected] or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow East Investment Park, Glasgow G32 8FG.

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