IN the latest instalment of The Northern Echo’s trader of the week, a man who swapped out an engineer suit for soot introduces his chimney sweep business.

John Hennessy, who was made redundant in 2016 before setting up Start Sweep Enterprise, stresses the importance chimney sweeps and having the chimney swept, which “could help save lives”.

“Last year in the UK there were 5,500 chimney fires and most of them were preventable,” he said.

Prior to becoming a chimney sweep, Mr Hennessy was a mechanical engineer.

“I have designed insulation for nuclear submarines, developed fridges and been responsible for looking after the mechanical aspects of engine test cells for engines,” he said.

“Redundancy four years ago gave me an opportunity to go self employed and I chose to become a professional chimney sweep.The days of sending children up chimneys to clean them are thankfully long gone and a good sweep can clean a chimney without causing a mess using the latest tools. I often hear I left the house cleaner than when I arrived.

“For some chimneys, a closer inspection is required. Here, I use my CCTV camera to look for issues such as birds nests or blockages.

"My customers are often fascinated to think that the last person to see inside the chimney on their house could have been a small child.

"As a modern chimney sweep, we also advise customers on the most efficient way to heat their home, what fuel to use and how to burn it."

Mr Hennessy has a range of clients, including stately homes, abbeys and a hedgehog sanctuary.

Regarding memorable moments, he said: "I get a lot of satisfaction releasing birds trapped in chimney. I've enjoyed cleaning chimneys that were so badly contaminated the customers were on the point of having a severe chimney fire and losing their home or not waking up due to carbon monoxide poisoning. I drive away from those ones thinking I could have just saved someone’s life."

Find Start Sweep Enterprise at Thornfield Lodge, Carmel Road North, DL39TF or on 07715 270091, from 8am to 5pm.

Do you have a North-East business and want to be featured? Tell us about it for our Trader of the Week segment. Email