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Death of a Chimney Sweep | John F. Wake

Surely one of the most graphic examples of the harshness of back street life emanates from the year of 1909.

A chimney sweep should have had a prosperous lifestyle in Edwardian Cardiff, a busy bustling city gobbling up coal in every building, be it business or residential.

Edward Lewis had been scrambling up chimneys, using brush and hand, clearing out soot for almost fifty years. He became ill – no doubt due to the lack of care, the inhaling of soot and so on over several decades.

Breathing in so much soot was not good for the health. Photo credit: koushik das

He couldn’t go to work therefore he had no money. Alone he slowly seemed to wither away. He had no friends, no-one called to see him, he was slowly starving to death.  

He was discovered in his one small room in Tyndall Street, Newtown, Cardiff, destitute, malnourished and seriously ill. He was taken to the workhouse, admitted to the infirmary, but died a few hours later.

A forgotten man in a forgotten time.

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Death of a Chimney Sweep | John F. Wake

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