Town festival for chimney sweeps

On the evening of October 23,1970 two tankers collided six miles south of the Isle of Wight. 13 crewmen died.

Flames from the oil tanker Pacific Glory could be seen from Portsdown Hill

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Well, we have all heard of pop festivals. But did you know that in days gone by, when the city had many chimney sweeps, they had their own festival?

It was held on May Day in Commercial Road at the junction with Surrey Street. At one time there was a stonemason’s on the corner.

One of the sweeps dressed up in a green canopy with spring flowers.

One or several of his companions would then play the music for dancing.

I don’t know when these type of things died out, I suspect it was during the Great War, or soon after.

Of course, chimney sweeping is not such a big trade these days with the advent of modern central heating systems.

When I was a boy, I knew a man who used to sweep the chimneys in Eastney Barracks, when all the messes had coal fires. Just look today and see how many pots there are on the roof tops of the building still remaining.

He told me it was like painting the Forth Bridge. When he finished he started all over again.

Sounded like a job for life, eh?