Female plumbers have more plans in the pipeline


BLOCKED toilets and busted flushes are not the only things that Laura Swanston and Kate Milton are fixing.

The pair, who quit well-paid desk jobs to start their own plumbing firm, are taking on the outdated stereotype that it is only men who wield the wrenches.

The-all female theme is something they want to keep, with their long-term aim to take on a third woman to train up.

Ms Swanston, 30, said feedback from clients had been positive, adding: “Quite a few women have said they felt more comfortable with having us in their home and some ethnic minorities can’t have a man who is not their husband alone in the house with them.”

But she added: “Sometimes it’s a bit comical, because the males in the house want to help and come up with their toolbox. A few people have been a bit surprised when they open the door and ask: ‘You’re the plumber?’.”

She and Ms Milton, 34, who run Milton & Swan from home in Islip, specialise in designing and plumbing-in bathrooms and central heating.

They juggled distance learning and practical training for City and Guilds qualifications – Ms Milton in plumbing and Ms Swanston in wall and floor tiling – with their old jobs. Ms Swanston was previously a project manager for Network Rail, while Ms Milton was a school sports co-ordinator. Both said they had been able to use skills from their old jobs, including project management.

Ms Swanston said: “Our stress levels are lower now we’re both self employed and we are able to be more flexible. “It’s really motivating because we’re fixing things and the more hours we put in, the more we earn.” They got the bug three years ago when they bought an old property in Leighton Buzzard and spent a year renovating it. Ms Swanston said: “It was an old stable block which was in a really bad state. We’ve always been keen on DIY and took that on as our first project.”