Oldham Historical Research Group

'Oldham Stories'

     'Oldham Stories'
by Mary Dickinson


Many years ago when my mother's chimney started smoking she used to say, "I'll sweel tonight." First I was sent to the Yeast Merchant's to get one or two skips. These were made from cane and would bum very well. I would tell all my friends what my mother was going to do. When she was ready she would put all the canes up the chimney and put a light to them. You could hear the roar of the fire and all the neighbourhood children would gather on the kerb to see the flames coming out of the chimney pot. There was not much soot left in the chimney after that but it was an offence and if the police saw it you could be summoned for having a chimney fire and fined, but it was done very quickly and most people got away with it.


I often wondered how the chimneys stood up to it, but the fire bumed very brightly afterwards. The last one up at night would rake the fire, put on a few pieces of coal and the ashes from under the grate and some tea leaves, this would keep the room warm all night and we always came down to a good fire at 5am when we got ready for work and school.

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