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Birds Nest Removed from M Design Stove Flue in Radwinter

Posted By paddy

A tale from close to home this week when I removed a bird’s nest from a flue I was seeping for an M Design stove in a house in Radwinter. It’s always the way, last job of the day on a Saturday, after a busy day sweeping and you encounter a birds nest up a flue! Fortunately this one was only made of moss dry grass and small twigs and I was able to break it up easily using 10mm power sweeping rods and a bullet strimmer sweeping head. The only problem was that all the broken up nest material caught in the flue mouth were the primary control vent was situated (you can just see it at the top of the photograph of the interior of the stove. This meant that I had to reach up into the bottom of the flue and drag out the nest material past the flue vent. Rather a dirty job, but someone has to do it! Where’s my apprentice Claire when I need her!

I don’t see many of these M Design Wood-Burning stoves, looking at their website they seem to be bespoke and rather expensive. Their website provides a short history of the company:

“In 1993 Bart Goovaerts opened a smart showroom, 1000 m² in size, for ornamental fireplaces and inset stoves where customers looking for high quality products could find all the main brands.

In addition to being a managing director who always looks to the future and thanks to the fact he studied automation and then architecture, Bart Goovaerts is someone who aims for perfection in the area of design and technology and, above all, in the combustion processes in inset and designer stoves.

In 2001 he started developing his own stoves. After a year of looking for the best way to do things and trying things out, his passion finally led to the development of a stove with a revolutionary combustion system, which had never been seen before, combined with an optimized air cleaning system.

In the same year, 2002, he also founded M-Design BVBA in order to market and sell the stoves he invented. His years of experience in installing and selling inset stoves and open fireplaces had provided him with the skills and experience necessary to design a perfect stove himself, the two most important criteria for which are the design itself and ease of use. And so the first LUNA models were created, shortly followed by the VENUS inset stoves.

In 2005 an improved version of the Luna was produced: the LUNA GOLD Collection.

At Batibouw 2007 the new Luna gas-fired models were M-Design’s biggest hit of the fair, attracting all the attention and, hardly surprisingly, outselling all the other stoves.

Since then M-Design has continued to grow, thanks to serious investment in marketing, among other things. In 2013 the company’s success increased further when it introduced the brand new DIAMOND collection: ecological, gas- and wood-fired stoves that have a bright future when it comes to sustainability, that are energy efficient and easy to use and that go hand in hand with nature”.

Green Enamel Godin Stove in Thaxted

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this very unusual and attractive Green Enamel Godin Stove at an address in Thaxted. I think these antique stoves are rather beautiful and in the right setting they can really add to the ambiance of a room and add value to a property. This stove was an admirable finishing touch to a large garden room. I’m sure its presence means that the garden room can be enjoyed by the family all year round! Looking on the internet they really hold their value and are now quite sought after.

The Godin stove is the foundational of the history of French stove making, and indeed to the history of domestic stove manufacturing as a whole. Before the era of cast iron, domestic fuel took on many forms from the open hearth fire to the clay or stone kiln, but then the 23 year Andrea Godin (pictured Below), started his business in 1840 making fireplaces in a shed in the centre of Thierache with a loan of about 4,000 francs from his parent, this quickly became too small.

The works soon moved to Guise where he started employing 30 people and in spite of fierce competition his business grew rapidly. The most important reason for this was his innovation. Godin applied for many patents for his products and concentrated on continually improving them both aesthetically and technically, making antique stoves from his era especially valuable.
Godin became a figure to know in French industrial relations. Godin offered his employees living wages or higher at a time of economic downturn, hired from a small pool of people in one geographical area reducing turn over and improving employee reliability.

By the end of the 1900’s, with a further 2000 employees, Godin was dominating the European stove market. Stove designs became ornate and stylised with the advent of the 20th century and the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. Godin’s stove design in this period did not become as elaborate and decorative as some other companies, such as Deville and Rosières, etc. But the stoves they produced in the early 20th century were, as always with Godin, extremely efficient and featured superb quality enamelling. Some of these original designs are still in production in the Godin factory today, laying testament to their design and efficiency.

Cash up the Chimney???

Posted By paddy

A bit of a funny story this week. I recently swept a chimney to an open fire for Intercounty Lettings in Shepreth near Royston. Apparently, the property had been empty for quite sometime before being let out; consequently the day I attended the house was full of other trades people doing various jobs to get the house ready for occupancy. Some of these were intrigued to see what I was doing as they had never observed a chimney being swept before. They all came running into the lounge when I shouted that I had found money up the chimney, but were immediately disappointed when they found that it was chocolate money, that was a bit old and mankey at that! I’m guessing that at some time a young child had spent a happy moment posting his chocolate coins up the chimney. Perhaps they were meant ad a gift for Father Christmas? Who Knows?

A Scottish House Name About Chimneys – Lum Reek

Posted By paddy

Something just a little bit different this week, a customer’s house name, but a name with a difference. This unusual name was on a customer’s house where I swept recently in Halstead. I was baffled by the house name as it did not appear to be in English, but the clue to its meaning is in the picture of a chimney on the house sign. Perplexed I asked the customer what it was all about. The lady who originates from Scotland informed me that it was a Scottish good luck saying, and not as I had thought, about smelly chimney! The Scottish saying goes “lang may your lum reek”; which means long may your chimney smoke or may you have a long and contented life. Lum being Scottish for chimney. It was originally a traditional Hogmanay toast, but has passed into English usage in Scotland. It is used primarily as a toast when drinking or as a farewell. So in many ways this saying is much more than just about a smokey chimney!

Finding Strange Things up the Chimney – A Bird of Pray

Posted By paddy

I very recently found this bird of prey up a large inglenook chimney in a thatched property at Tindon End. Looking at the colouring and plumage of the bird, I think it was a Kestral, but I could be wrong, I’m no ornithologist! As can be seen in the photo the bird was brown and mottled black on its top surface and had black wing tips. What I couldn’t understand was why having got into the chimney the bird didn’t just simply fly out again. The chimney was very large all the way up, about 6’ x 4’ and wasn’t particularly tall at about seven and a half metres. I found the poor thing just lying on top of the register plate close to one of the inspection hatches. I imagine that it must have been ill or injured and had flown into the chimney for safety and simply died there; but this is merely speculation on my behalf.

A search of the internet reveals a number of strange things found up chimneys, some of which are humorous, interesting and even lucrative!


In the UK, police found £871,495 up the chimney stack in the Bradford home of Baber Bashir, a conman who had acquired his ill-gotten gains largely through an unspecified fraud. Found tucked in his chimney, the cash amounted to just around $1.5 million USD by today’s standards, making it easily the most valuable chimney in Bradford. That is, before all the money was confiscated by the police and Mr. Bashir and company were locked up for their crimes.


Researchers at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario made a strange discovery in a decommissioned Chimney in a campus building – over fifty years’ worth of bird droppings. Researchers dug in (literally) and found that the bird droppings showed sharp decreases in beetles in the diet of insect-eating birds that frequented the chimney. The dramatic decline of the beetle population was due to the use of the infamous chemical DDT, which the beetles were especially susceptible to.  This, in turn, lead to a decrease of the population of the swifts that used the chimney, further damaging the already notorious reputation of the DDT compound.

Cats & Shoes

On the other side of the world in Australia, you might not be too surprised to find a dead cat or a shoe inside your chimney. Reason being, early Australian settlers were very superstitious, and often would hide either a shoe or, in some more morbid cases, a dead cat inside their chimneys. The practice is believed to have come to Australia by way Britain from an ancient Roman practice to ward off evil spirits. Homeowners put these totems in parts of their homes where evil spirits might lurk.

A Burglar

Believe it or not, Santa can serve as an inspiration for more than just altruism. In Georgia, an Atlanta area teen took a page out of the red-suited man’s book when he tried to burglarize a home by slipping through the chimney. After spending ten hours overnight trapped in the flue, he finally cried for help and caught the attention of a neighbor who called the police. After getting pulled from the flue, he went from out of the fire and into the frying pan as he was immediately arrested. To add fuel to the flames, the would-be-burglar made another poor choice by providing police with a false name when they arrested him, really putting him in ‘hot water’.

A Letter to Santa Written in 1912

On a lighter note on the Santa side of things, a Dublin, Ireland man found a note to Santa when cleaning his fireplace; but not just any note. This note, believed to be penned by Hannah and Alfred Howard, somehow survived 100 years on a shelf on the inside of the fireplace. Despite constant use of the fireplace throughout that entire time, the letter has only a small amount of burn damage and is in remarkably good condition. Featuring a detailed, if terse, list of toys and treats the two children desired, it ends with a friendly ‘Good Luck’, and has a few illustrations to go along with it.

A Dead Body

There’s no shortage of bodies found in chimneys, as they seem to make a good hiding place for less-savory characters, but this particular body has a pretty interesting history behind it. Joseph Schexnider, a former National Guard serviceman, was due to appear in court in 1984, an appearance that he never made. Known in his family for frequently skipping town, they thought little of it. For twenty-seven years, they presumed that he was on the lamb from charges of possession of a stolen vehicle. Then, in May of 2011, the local bank began renovating it’s second floor, previously used only as storage space. Inside the chimney they discovered Joseph’s remains. He hadn’t suffered any broken bones or apparent trauma, so investigators ruled the death accidental.

An Unusual French Mirus Wood-Burning Stove

Posted By paddy

I swept this unusual but rather attractive French Mirus Wood-Burning Stove very recently in a property in Mill Lane Saffron Walden. The stove is unusual in that the fuel is not loaded from the front, but from a side door. Looking on the web it is easy to see that these antique Mirus stoves are very sought after and achieve very high prices when sold on. It would appear that Mirus were making stoves in the early part of the 20th Century, a number I looked at were made in the 1920’s.

Unfortunately for the customer I had to condemn the installation as being unsafe to use, as can be observed from the photos, the stove pipe was not securely fixed to the bottom of the liner. As can be seen the stove pipe had been secured using a jubilee clip, when this had failed a piece of chicken wire had been used. This is always a difficult moment for the sweep, who must tactfully point out the defects and negotiate a solution. In this instance the customer was very reasonable and could immediately see the fault and recognize that it required remedying. The customer added that it wasn’t the first problem he had encountered since buying the property, adding that the previous occupier from whom he had bought the property was a ‘bit of a bodger’!

I suggested when the customer has the repair undertaken, he have the elbow removed and replaced with a T-Piece which will collect any soot coming down the flue and to have a sweeping hatch fitted to the stove pipe.

Running Hares – Finchingfield/Stambourne

Posted By paddy

Time for another thatched animals’ picture, I’ve not had one on the blog for sometime now! This time it’s running hares as opposed to the boxing hares I’ve posted previously. This picture was taken on a thatched cottage’s roof between Finchingfield and Stambourne; so very much a local thatchamals picture.

I have also found an appropriate seasonal poem about hares:

A Calendar of Hares by Anna Crowe

At the raw end of winter
the mountain is half snow, half
dun grass. Only when snow
moves does it become a hare.

If you can catch a hare
and look into its eye
you will see the whole world.

That day in March
watching two hares boxing
at the field’s edge, she felt
the child quicken.

It is certain Midas never saw a hare
or he would not have lusted after gold.

When the buzzard wheels
like a slow kite overhead
the hare pays out the string.

The man who tells you
he has thought of everything
has forgotten the hare.

The hare’s form, warm yet empty.
Stumbling upon it he felt his heart
lurch and race beneath his ribs.

Beset by fears, she became
the hare who hears
the mowers’ voices grow louder.

Light as the moon’s path over the sea
the run of the hare over the land.

The birchwood a dapple
of fallen gold: a carved hare
lies in a Pictish hoard.

Waking to the cry of a hare
she ran and found the child sleeping.

November stiffens
into December: hare and grass
have grown a thick coat of frost.

Something Unusual Found Up a Radwinter Flue & the Value of Power Sweeping

Posted By paddy

An unusual item literally for this weeks blog, something found up a flue which really shouldn’t have been there! The customer had asked me in to sweep the lined flue to her old Rayburn Range at a property in Radwinter. The customer reported that despite having had the appliance swept religiously for many years it had not been working as efficiently as it had done for a number of years. There was nothing too unusual about the installation, a couple of 45 degree turns in the flue, sweeping access from the appliance and a standard cowl on the top of the flue.

I swept the flue using 8mm power sweeping click rods and small scrubber head and retrieved from the flue the small brush pictured, along with a quantity of sooty debris. A simple type 2 smoke test demonstrated that the flue was now drawing strongly. I suppose to add insult to injury the removed brush was only half the diameter of the flue pipe and therefore would never have been suitable for cleaning the flue effectively. I’m guessing that it had become stuck in one of the turns or the cowl and that the power sweeping head was powerful enough to dislodge it. The dishonest tradesman, I won’t grace him with the title sweep, clearly didn’t tell the customer that he had lost a brush up the flue and made no significant attempt to retrieve it!

The customer told me that one of her previous sweeps had been an old man who always struggled to sweep the Rayburn and never issued her with a Sweeping Certificate! She said that she stopped using him after she came into the kitchen one hot summers day when he was sweeping the Rayburn and found him sweating, stripped to the waist and blaspheming.

I suppose the moral of the story is to always use a Certified Sweep to do any sweeping work!

Large Yeoman County Multi-Fuel Stove Swept

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this Yeoman County Multi-Fuel Stove with its rear flue and T-Piece. This and the smaller Exmoor Multi-Fuel Stove are unusual in the Yeoman Range in that they have a contemporary appearance with their large window to the firebox. This monster has a 13Kw rating and the owner tells me that it throws out a terrific amount of heat once it is in full operation. This stove and the smaller Exmoor do have one traditional feature that all Yeoman stoves have, the Tudor Rose emblem. However, on this stove as with the Exmoor, the Tudor are actually the primary air intake controls.

Yeoman Stoves are now owned by stovax, but you can find them at:

Yeoman Stoves,

Falcon Road,

Sowton Industrial Estate

Exeter, EX2 7LF

Technical Enquiries: 01392261950
Customer Services: 01392474500


A Thatched Owl from Ashdon

Posted By paddy

I haven’t included a thatched animal in the blog for some time now, so I thought I would present this example from a roof in Ashdon. Clearly, this is an owl, but what type? Is it a Barn owl, Tawney owl or Little owl? Yes, there are six species of owl in the UK; Barn, Tawney, Little, Long Eared, Short Eared and European Eagle Owl.

Owls are birds from the order Strigiformes, which includes about 200 species of mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, binocular visionbinaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers adapted for silent flight. Exceptions include the diurnal northern hawk-owl and the gregarious burrowing owl.

Owls hunt mostly small mammalsinsects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish. They are found in all regions of the Earth except polar ice caps and some remote islands. Owls are divided into two families: the true (or typical) owl family, Strigidae, and the barn-owl family, Tytonidae.

Man has long had a soft spot for owls. We’ve been around these creatures an awfully long time and are held in thrall by a mysterious bird that’s seldom seen in daylight, yet is master of the night: often heard, but hardly ever seen. Most woodland owls are nocturnal or crepuscular – active at dawn and dusk – and like to tuck themselves away in a daytime roost.

Whether you’ve observed five long-eared owls roosting in thick blackthorn, a barn owl hunting a road at dusk or a little brown owl peeping out from a hole in a tree, the one feature they all have in common is the stare, which, along with a parliament, is a collective noun for wise old owls.

What ever their collective noun is, I think this specimen from Ashdon is a particularly attractive bird! How about some Owl poetry?

The Wise Old Owl

A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

By Billy Mills

Late Night Ramblings

As the moon shines
And the stars decorate the sky,
A lonely owl hymns
While the bats fly.
Lightning bugs scatter around
Like will-o’-the-wisps at night,
Without any sound
Oh, what a delight!
The neighbour’s hound is on guard
She will not allow anyone to pass,
No one is allowed in her yard
At this hour, only a fool will walk on her grass.
Her howl pierces the air
Bringing an end to the silence,
She announces she won’t share
She will not tolerate any form of violence.
Across the street, few floors above
Two players are taking their turns,
In the famous game of push and shove
While a tiny candle burns.

By Tanay Sengupta


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