Rosanna Forster, Chimney Sweep

Pictured here is a photograph of Rosanna Forster, a chimney sweep in Gillingham in 1917. Rosanna is Grandmother to the neighbour of Victor Chidgey who can be seen talking about Rosanna in the video below.

The following is a transcript of the video:

A neighbour of mine, her grandmother – her name Rosanna Forster, she used to help her husband in her chimney sweeping business. He worked as a boiler-maker at Chatham dockyards, but she used to assist him on a part time basis.

Every year without fail she was pregnant. And then her luck changed for both of them; he got sent to Bermuda as a boiler maker oh dear what a shame what a terrible place to be sent in the middle of a war and she was left here on her own but she thought well she has no income she would carry on with the business so she carried on cleaning the chimneys and having her babies and she said to me that was the best time of her life when he went to Bermuda because she wasn’t pregnant that year. She had a break. And then after the war in 1919 he came home again and their life resumed”

Image, film and text courtesy of Victor Chidgey.

New Information courtesy of Rosanna Forster’s Granddaughter Susan Borer:

‘Rosanna was pregnant in the picture above and gave birth the day after. When her Husband came home from the war he was unwell and so Rosanna carried on sweeping. The couple stayed together and went on to have 6 more children after the war and Rosanna carried on sweeping into the Second World War. Rosanna was known to everyone as ‘Sootie forster’ and she was also the local midwife. Everyone went to her with their problems. Rosanna died in 1960 at the age of 72.’


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