Home: 01799 599981 Mobile: 0795 6099788 paddy@waldensweeps.myzen.co.uk


Large Firebelly Stove Swept in Tindon End

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this large Firebelly Stove in Tindon End. The stove was in a recently refurbished 15th Century farmhouse. A really beautiful property in a fantastic secluded location. But guess what? The lounge were the stove is situates is completely carpeted in white carpet; brand new white carpet that is pristine! So undaunted, I put down plenty of sheeting just to be on the safe side. I certainly didn’t want any soot to go anywhere near that carpet! Needless to say that the carpet was as pristine when I left as when I had arrived.

I believe that the model of Firebelly is an FB2, this stove is specially designed for large rooms and has a 12 Kw output. Toasty warm in the winter and this one was indeed located in a very large room. It should be attached to a 6” flue as indeed this one was. Firebelly are a British company located in Elland, Halifax, West Yourkshire.

Firebelly Stoves

Firebelly Stoves Ltd,
Unit B Marshall hall mills,
Telephone: +44 (0)1422 375582


An Unusual Blockage Found in a Chimney in Ashdon

Posted By paddy

I swept the pictured chimney at an address in Ashdon recently, using manual rods and brush; when I came across an obstruction two thirds of the way up the chimney. As I withdrew the rods a number of twigs and bits of nest material came down the chimney causing me to believe that it was a nest blocking the chimney. I changed rods and put the pig’s tail on the end and endeavored to remove the nest by pulling it down the chimney using the pigs tail. After a while struggling and having observed only a small number of twigs come down the chimney, I decided to take a different approach, as I just couldn’t shift the obstruction by pulling it down. I then deployed my large (14mm) power sweeping click rods and a metal flail to whip the nest out. However, again this made very little impression and when I came to pull the rods back down the chimney they appeared to be stuck fast. Now very perplexed by all this I gave the rods one mighty yank and the started to come down the chimney. But their progress down the chimney was not smooth and easy as they seemed to be being impeded by something. This tuned out to be the mesh of chicken wire that had become lodged around the metal flail. With a lot of effort this was eventually removed from the chimney. I’m guessing that at some stage in the past someone had put this wire as a bundle in or on the chimney pot to prevent Jackdaws from building nests. However, at some stage it had fall down the chimney and become lodged about a third of the way down. Well at least it was removed which was a relief to both me and the customer!

Dead people found inside chimneys?

Posted By paddy

I found this interesting if somewhat morbid article in the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps Monthly newsletter and I thought I would share it with my customers. I hope everyone finds it interesting??? The most I have ever found up chimney besides soot are dead birds and certainly no dead people! Although I heard of people finding jewelry, cash and mummified cats. Apparently, cats were put up chimneys to ward off witches and the evil eye.

IT’S not a cheerful subject – terribly morbid in fact but nonetheless fascinating.
People have been discovered dead after getting stuck in chimneys and it’s nothing new. Boy and girl chimney sweeps of yesteryear faced this issue daily as a very real danger. Master sweeps would make them climb up the insides of chimneys to rake out the soot and other debris. It was incredibly hazardous work for the youngsters, aged 3-plus, who had to navigate the twists and turns, and tiny spaces inside the chimneys of the Georgian and Victorian eras.
History recounts an inevitable record of children panicking inside the flues, getting stuck and dying. Benita Cullingford recalls just such an instance. In her ‘British Chimney Sweeps: Five Centuries of Chimney Sweeping’ she writes:-

“On July 7th 1877, The Leeds Mercury reported the death of a sweep in a chimney at Thornton. At about 10am on Tuesday morning the young boy had been cheerfully employed sweeping a chimney, when his brush became lodged in the flue. Fearful of his masters anger he remained in the chimney. His master, J. Holgate, sent another apprentice up to get him but the boy climbed out of reach. The enraged Holgate swearing he would cut him to pieces lit a fire in the grate – to no effect. The apprentice was sent up again with a rope, which he tied to the boy’s leg. Holgate tugged the rope down a few feet and secured it to the grate. He then climbed up to the boy himself and stayed with him about five minutes. On returning he declared the boy’s feet and thought he was dying. The chimney was dismantled at around 3pm but it was too late. The boy had stuck fast in a narrow section of the flue and died. Holgate was tried, found guilty of manslaughter and confined to York Castle. At the next Assizes, Holgate was acquitted. Medical opinion had decided that his apprentice had died of suffocation and not through any wounds or bruising found on his body.”

Fortunately the cruel days of child sweeps are over but adults too have got stuck in chimneys for all sorts of reasons – burglars, lovers, missing people.

There have been a number of examples in the USA in the past 50 years. Here’s a poignant example: Joshua Vernon Maddux, aged 18, went missing in Colorado Springs on May 8 2008. His body was found seven years later inside a chimney in an abandoned cabin a mile from his parents’ home. Building contractors made the discovery when they began to pull apart the building.

Another tragedy was Californian doctor Jacquelyn Kotarac, aged 49, whose body was found two feet above the top of a fireplace opening. She had been trying to ‘force her way’ into her boyfriend’s home, according to police. The boyfriend had left the home to avoid an argument. Her remains were later discovered by a house sitter.

More recently here in the UK, Kevin Gough, alleged to be a serial burglar, attempted entry into a solicitors’ premises in Derby in early 2013, Staff at the firm reported a horrible odour and infestation of flies. A pest control company discovered the remains, which were believed to have been in the chimney for a number of weeks.


We’d advise that you never ever try enter a chimney space unless you have specific training.

If you feel the need for more grizzly “stuck in the chimney” stories, you can find some here: https://www.ranker.com/list/people-who-got-stuck-and-died-in-chimneys/laura-allan


A Very Dirty Chimney Swept

Posted By paddy

I swept this chimney last week and was horrified to see the quantity of material that was extracted; I won’t mention were this was for obvious reasons. But as can be seen from the photograph, it was extremely dirty. The chimney was constructed of clay liners and was just under 8 meters tall, making the amount of the quantity of material removed all the more surprising. The customer told me that as far as they could remember it was around 10 years since it had been swept. To be honest I could not understand how they had not had a chimney fire. Still it comes as no surprise how some customers are prepared to take the risk of burning their house down for the want and small expense of sweeping their chimney once a year! Incredible! Some customers seem to be totally resistant to being educated upon this point through persuasion. I suppose with some people it will take a chimney fire before they are brought to their senses, and that I’m afraid might be just too late! Enough said, here endeth the sermon for today!

Oh no I just don’t believe it!

Boxing Hares with a Fox Watching on in Walberswick

Posted By paddy

Its about time I posted another thatched animal, this time three for the price of one, which I saw on a roof in Walberswick. It looks to me like Mr Fox is creeping up on those two hares, who are so intent on their boxing they don’t even know that he is there. I do hope it doesn’t end badly!!!! looks like a great punch up though, definitely a woman involved somewhere?

How about a fox poem to go with this image?

The illusive Fox by Michael Cera

an illusive fox,
that knows no bounds.
its presence keeps me around.
upon a hill, he watched me drown,
and taught a meaning,
i have not yet caught.
but also made me laugh alot.
no better a friend,
i could have asked,
the words could bring shyness,
he’s surely abashed.
maybe meaning exists,
beneath both of our masks.

Birds Nest Removed from an Inglenook Chimney in Castle Camps

Posted By paddy

Last week I removed a rook’s nest from an inglenook chimney at this house outside of castle camps and on the way to Helions Bumpstead. I’m wishing now that I had taken a photo from the top of the scaffolding as the views of the surrounding countryside were quite spectacular. This was made all the better as the house is sited right on top of a hill. Unfortunately, I was too intent on getting the job done and forgot to take a photo whilst I was on top of the scaffolding and didn’t want to have to climb back up once the job was done!

It was very handy that the builders had been re-pointing the chimney; it made my job all the easier as I was able to attack the nest from both ends! For once the fireplace was fitted with a register plate that had a large inspection hatch, running most of the length of the opening making it much easier to get at the nest and remove the debris. Even though the nest was compacted throughout the length of the chimney (15 meters) I had it all out within two and a half hours. Something I was quite pleased with.

Dovre Combination Stove Recently Condemned in Felsted

Posted By paddy

I recently had to condemn this Dovre Combination Stove at a house just outside Felsted, Essex. The home-owner had no idea how long the stove had been in situe as it had been in place when he had bought the property some time ago. The stove flue had clearly not been swept for a long time, if ever and I was able to remove a significant quantity of soot and tar when I swept it. However, CCTV inspection revealed that the integrity of the liner was very poor and that it had completely failed in a number of places.

Over and above this, that stove itself had been fitted without a register plate, cosqently the top of the stove was covered in a thick layer of soot and other debris, which had become wet through rain water coming down the chimney (There was no cowl fitted?). To compound matters, there was no Carbon Monoxide alarm fitted in the room. Furthermore, this rather large appliance was fitted into what was a somewhat small room. The occupants must have been melting when it was in use if not poisoning themselves unwittingly??? A prime example of what happens when the layman turns his hand to DIY in the misplaced belief that he knows what he is doing!

Fox and Cub Chasing a Hare – More Thatched Animals

Posted By paddy

A bit of a lighter note this week; yes, it’s time for some more thatched animals. This offering

appears to be a female fox and her cub chasing a hare along the ridge of this cottage.

Trouble is, it is quite some time since I took this photo so I can’t now remember which

Village it was in?







As we all know female foxes are known as Vixens, whilst Male foxes are known as dogs, Tods or Reynards. Fox young are known as cubs or Kits. There are also a number of collective nouns for foxes, these are either a Skulk, Leash or Earth.

My Favourite fox poem which I remember from school, is the Thought Fox by Ted Hughes:

The Thought-Fox

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox,
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

Unusual Woodwarm Stove Swept in Ashdon

Posted By paddy

I came across this rather unusual Woodwarm Stove in a house in Ashdon and thought that it would be interesting to use in the blog; particularly because of its unusual shape. To be honest I have not come across many stoves that are designed and shaped in the manner of this stove. I thought it would be of interest for the readers of my blog to see this stove and whether they like it or not. I think it certainly has a novelty value if not an aesthetic one? For as I say there are certainly not many stoves like this one about. Being positioned in a rather large inglenook fireplace is probably the best setting for it, as it occupies the space well, matches the character and period charm of the room, and I understand from the customer that it throws out a considerable amount of heat when it is in operation. I’m told that even on the coldest winter day it warms the room (which is a large one), very nicely indeed.

Not knowing much about Woodwarm Stoves I have done a little internet research and found that like many stove manufactures they are based in the West Country:

The Workshop,
Wheatcroft Farm,
Devon EX15 1RA



The manufactures are actually called; Metal Developments Ltd and it is their range of stoves that are termed Woodwarm. The company make a range of stoves, notably the: Phenix, Fireview, Wildwood, Foxfire, and the Kalido Gas.

The companies blurb on their website stresses a concern for environmental issues: Here at Woodwarm we have dedicated over 30 years of production to our customers and very experienced dealers and fitters to tell us what you want from your home fire. We pride ourselves on the ability to respond to both customer needs and government legislations while using cutting edge technology to ensure reliability and workmanship throughout. We strongly believe that it is thanks to our immensely hard working sales outlets that we have become a market leader in Clean Burning Wood and Multi Fuel heating.

We are very lucky to be located in the beautiful Devon country side. Environmental issues are always foremost in our minds; we cannot afford to ignore the evidence of global warming. Wood is a sustainable fuel boasting the fact that it also carbon neutral, for this reason we have developed the Wildwood range, a dedicated wood burner range that does not drain the planet of its rich resources. “Please see our environmental policy for our commitments to the future”

Why Woodwarm? We are not the cheapest fire on the market this we are the first to admit, we cannot compete with the mass-produced meaningless market, and so because of this we wont. Some of our fires are still in use some 30 years on, what else do you have that’s still working at 30 years old? We know how to keep the glass clean, even overnight, we know how to get the maximum use from your fuel, we are unrivalled in our boiler, canopy, fuel, colour, leg, handles, plinth, pedestal, options because we are hand-made here in the UK. You will buy a house for comfort and as an investment, your choice in a stove should be the same.

Birds Nest and Very Dirty Chimney – Radwinter

Posted By paddy

A local job this week in one of the Alms Houses in Radwinter. The customer is having a Wood-Burning Stove fitted in June and required a pre-installation sweep. However, she had never used the chimney as she knew there was a very old, redundant rook’s nest in the chimney. She told me that as far as she was aware the nest had been there for years. I examined the chimney and found that the nest was blocking the chimney from 3 meters upwards throughout the length of the stack, which I estimated to be about 10 meters tall.  By observing the chimney stack for a time, I was able to satisfy myself that no birds were currently nesting in the chimney and that it was therefore safe to remove the nest.

The customer told me that when the builder had knocked out the fireplace as significant quantity of nest material and dirt had fallen down into the room. On that point, the work to knock out the fireplace was done by Mark Hall from the village and the customer was very satisfied with his work which can be seen in the photograph.

I removed the nest from the chimney using a combination pig’s tail tool and rods and a power sweeping metal flail to pulldown and thrash out the nest. This worked most effectively and had the nest out in no time. I then power-swept the chimney clean using a large scrubber head.

The customer went on to tell me that she is having a small Woolly Mammoth Multi-Fuel stove fitted by Will Parker at Thaxted Stoves.

Thaxted Stoves:

Phone: 01371700305 or 07990511589
Email: info@ThaxtedStoves.com


Right Menu Icon