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Franco-Belge Monte Carlo Wood-Burning Stove – Great Sampford

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this impressive Franco-Belge Monte Carlo Wood-Burning Stove at an address in Great Sampford. The Monte Carlo is a very large stove with a massive heat out-put of 11.5 Kw. This is because the stove has a very large fire box that can take logs that are up to 55cm long. The stove also has a large baffle that runs along the entire length of the roof of the stove and is an extremely heavy piece of cast iron. I have found the best way to remove it and refit it is to lye on your back and in the fashion of bench pressing, take it out or place it back into the stove. One negative feature is that this baffle is bolted in place. To my mind, having bolt on components in a stove is a mistake as the bolts can very easily become seized in place due to the heat generated by the stove. This said, it is a fantastic large stove, and the customer is very pleased with its performance and efficiency.

The Franco-Belge company have been making cast iron stoves for over 90 years, the are based in Mariembourg in Belgium: Franco Belge Europe S.A. 127ieme RIF, 15 Zoning industriel 5660, Mariembourg http://www.fbeurope.be/en/5-contact

A Fine Collection of Nails

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this contemporary cylindrical wood-burning stove at an address in Debden Green. I thought the picture was of interest because of the amount of ironmongery that I found in the bottom of the stove. These consisted mostly of assorted nails of differing shapes and sizes, staples, clips and nuts and bolts. I understand from the customer that he had been breaking up old pallets and exclusively burning them. I gently suggested that this was not the best of ideas because of the type of deposits that burning such wood would leave in his chimney, i.e. poor-quality resinous wood leading to fire risk deposits. I suggested that if he wished to continue burning old pallets he might use it more sparingly and mix it with hard wood logs. Of course, the best course of action would be not to burn old pallets in the first place! I removed the nails from the stove using one of my industrial magnets; a quick and easy way to get them out of the stove. There was so many of them, they eventually filled half a large trugg.

Invicta Ove Wood-Burning Stove in Wicken Bonhunt

Posted By paddy

I recently swept the flue to this rather space-age Invicta Ove Wood-Burning Stove in an address in Wicken Bonhunt. I think it is a fabulously shaped stove; it has a massive 10 Kw firebox. The stove was positioned in a very large room with a very high ceiling, yet the customer told me that within a very short time of lighting the stove the room gets rather warm and cozy.

Invicta are a French Company and as their Website states: Invicta specializes in individual wood-burning heaters, developing innovative wood and pellet stoves at affordable prices. Established in France’s Champagne-Ardenne region since 1924, the Invicta foundry and enameling company is renowned for its craftsmanship. Its cast-iron (laminar) wood-burning heating units are made in France (certified Origine France Garantie), and nearly all of them bear the Flamme Verte environmental label. When you choose Invicta, you are choosing an economical, high-performing stove or fireplace insert with a one-of-a-kind design! Enjoy the charm and comfort of wood heat, the #1 renewable energy source in France, and transform your interior decor by introducing a modern heating unit with a contemporary, designer look that you’ll be proud to display.

Thatched Pet Dogs Ashdon

Posted By paddy

Here is a really nice photo of a family’s pet dogs enshrined in the thatch on the roof of their house. What a really nice idea I thought and a lovely tribute to their pets. I don’t know if you can recognize the breed of dogs from the photo, but they are a Boarder Terrier, Jack Russell and a West Highland Terrier. The house its self is tucked away and not that easy to find, so if you are casually driving through Ashdon and don’t know where it is, you will probably miss it all together. A shame, but I hope the photo will suffice? The customer has two wood-burning stoves in the property that require sweeping twice a year, a large Villager Stove and a large ‘Witches Hat’ style Woodwarm wood-burning stove.

An unusual Clearview Multi-Fuel Stove in Newport

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this unusual Clearview Pioneer Multi-Fuel Stove at an address in Newport. It is unusual because as you can see in the photograph it has a cooking compartment above the fire box. Quite appropriately this stove was in the kitchen of the house and the customer said that she had used it successfully to make bread and to roast joints of meat. She said that it was also very good for making homemade pizzas. I have come across stoves with cooking compartments before whilst sweeping, but the have usually been Dean Forge or Chilli Penguin stoves, I have not seen a Clearview with a cooking compartment. This is surprising as locally there are a large number of Clearview stoves.

I do like the Clearview range of stoves; they are simple to work on and the majority of customers who have them say they are very efficient at burning and easy to operate and maintain. Clearview have been making stoves since 1987 and are based in Bishops castle in Shropshire. They have a spectacular show room in an old stately home Dinham House (See Photo) in Ludlow, where there is the full range of Clearview Stoves displayed in rooms, with many of the stoves in operation.

Clearview Stoves

More Works,

Bishops Castle,

Shropshire SY9 5GB

01588 650401

Dinham House,


Shropshire SY8 1EJ

01584 878100


A Lucky Brush for the New Year and a New Decade 2020

Posted By paddy

A Happy New Year and New Decade to everyone, to make the point here is a picture of one of my brushes emerging from a chimney at a house in Widdington just before Christmas! It is supposed to be lucky to see the brush out of the chimney and many people like to make a wish on the brush. Apparently, you have to keep the nature of the wish to yourself or it won’t come true!

British folk law has it that it is lucky to see a chimney sweeps brush out of the top of a chimney. The mythology goes that the customer or any passer-by can make a wish on the brush when they see it emerge from the chimney; however they mustn’t tell anyone their whish as it will then never come true! Chimney sweeps themselves are also thought to be luck; folk law states that it luck to shake the hand of a chimney sweep, or to see a chimney sweep on your wedding day or even be kissed by the sweep!

So how did the chimney sweep become a good luck charm? Folklore experts report several theories. These may or may not be true, but they’re the common legends passed down through time.
All the way back in 1066, King William of Great Britain found himself in the way of an out-of-control carriage. A chimney sweep pushed him to safety and the King, believing the sweep brought him good fortune, declared chimney sweeps lucky.

Another theory involves King George III in the 1700s. The King was traveling in his carriage when a growling dog spooked his horses. A chimney sweep came to his rescue and prevented the carriage from turning over. King George also declared chimney sweeps to be lucky.
The most romantic, undated, theory talks about a chimney sweep who lost his footing and ended up hanging precariously from a gutter. A woman in the house spotted him and pulled him inside to safety. The two instantly fell in love and were married. This is why having a chimney sweep at your wedding (and having him give a little smooch to the bride) is considered a good sign of things to come. Prince Philip reportedly dashed out of Kensington Palace on the day of his wedding to Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth to shake a chimney sweep’s hand.
Chimney sweeps are also thought to bring luck in other countries aside from in Britain. In Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Estonia chimney sweeps still wear the traditional all-black uniform with a black or white hat. It is considered good luck to rub or grasp one of your buttons if you pass one in the street. As a Lucky symbol, depictions of chimney sweeps are a popular New Year’s gift in Germany; either as small ornaments attached to flower bouquets or candy, e.g. marzipan chimney sweeps. Their traditional uniform is an all-black suit with golden jacket buttons and a black top-hat.

A Happy Christmas to all my Customers – Snowy Thatched Animals

Posted By paddy

Wishing all my Customers a very Happy Christmas – and I hope you have lots of warming fires over the Christmas break with friends and family gathered around the winter fireside. For todays Christmas blog I have a photo of a snowy fox and a pig (unusual Combination) on a thatched roof Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire – No I was not sweeping there, it’s a photo off the internet! But hopefully it will bring a Christmas smile to peoples faces! A very Happy Christmas to every one from Paddy and Claire at Walden Sweeps and wishing you a very happy and prosperous New Year!

Not a Thatch Animal but a Short Stirling Bomber – Little Thurlow

Posted By paddy

Yes, thatch but not a thatched animal this time – ‘It’s thatch Jim but not as we know it”!

It’s a World War 2 thatched Short Stirling four engine heavy bomber. The first of the four engine heavies prior to the Lancaster and Halifax and the scourge of Nazi Germany. Its appearance on a barn roof in Little Thurlow is undoubtedly because of the nearby airfield at Wratting Common which flew the Stirling, along with its parent station at Stradishall (now HMP Highpoint). Many of the old war time building still remain at the site of the airfield including two large hangers and the local roads follow the course of the old runsways.

RAF Wratting Common was a Bomber Command airfield built comparatively late in the war (1942), and was operational from 1943 to 1945. It is situated between the villages of West Wickham, West Wratting, Carlton/Weston Colville and Withersfield, close to the Cambridgeshire border with Suffolk. For much of this period, approximately 1,500 personnel were stationed here.

In the early stages of its life the airfield was called RAF West Wickham. However it was renamed in August 1943 as RAF Wratting Common to avoid confusion with another similarly named RAF station, possibly High Wycombe (Bomber Command HQ).

The station hosted one squadron at a time, but during the war three different squadrons used the base. Between May and October 1943 it was the home to 90 (XC) Squadron, who flew Stirling bombers. XC Squadron then moved elsewhere and RAF Wratting Common became the home for 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit, a training Squadron for bomber crews. Then in November 1944 1651 RAF Wratting Common became the home to 195 Squadron, equipped with AVRO Lancaster bombers for an aggressive operational role. Many bombing missions over Germany were mounted from the base in the last months of the war.

In the closing days of the war, Lancasters from RAF Wratting Common took part in non-combat missions, notably operation MANNA in April/May 1945 in which the bombers were used to airdrop food to the starving Dutch. Later the unit took part in operation EXODUS, in which allied prisoners of war were returned home from previously occupied Europe.

In August 1945 195 Squadron was disbanded. The station was used for various air training tasks by Transport Command for another year or so. The last aircraft left the base in June 1946 and the land has since returned to its original, rural, use. Most of the site is part of Thurlow Estates, owned by the Vestey family.

During the war bomber losses in operations flown from Wratting Common totalled 43 of which 34 were Stirlings.


The Short Stirling was a British four-engined heavy bomber of the Second World War. It has the distinction of being the first four-engined bomber to be introduced into service with the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The Stirling was designed during the late 1930s by Short Brothers to conform with the requirements laid out in Air Ministry Specification B.12/36. Prior to this, the RAF had been primarily interested in developing increasingly capable twin-engined bombers but had been persuaded to investigate a prospective four-engined bomber as a result of promising foreign developments in the field. Out of the submissions made to the specification, Supermarine proposed the Type 317 which was viewed as the favourite, while Short’s submission, named the S.29, was selected as an alternative. When the preferred Type 317 had to be abandoned, the S.29, which later received the name Stirling, proceeded to production.

During early 1941, the Stirling entered squadron service. During its use as a bomber, pilots praised the type for its ability to out-turn enemy night fighters and its favourable handling characteristics, while the altitude ceiling was often a subject of criticism. The Stirling had a relatively brief operational career as a bomber before being relegated to second line duties from late 1943. This was due to the increasing availability of the more capable Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster, which took over the strategic bombing of Germany. Decisions by the Air Ministry on certain performance requirements, such as to restrict the wingspan of the aircraft to 100 feet, had played a role in limiting the Stirling’s performance; these restrictive demands had not been placed upon the Halifax and Lancaster bombers.

During its later service, the Stirling was used for mining German ports; new and converted aircraft also flew as glider tugs and supply aircraft during the Allied invasion of Europe during 1944–1945. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the type was rapidly withdrawn from RAF service, having been replaced in the transport role by the Avro York, a derivative of the Lancaster that had previously displaced it from the bomber role. A handful of ex-military Stirlings were rebuilt for the civil market.

A New Apprentice? Katie Does Work Experience

Posted By paddy

I had an extra pair of hands for a day this week, when my youngest daughter Katie had to do work experience. Apparently, it is now part of the national curriculum that in year 10 all school children have to do a day’s work experience. Katie naturally wanted to spend a day with her dad getting a bit sooty! And who can blame her! All joking aside Katie did very well, she worked hard all day and I never heard one moan or word of complaint. Katie worked hard all day, helping to fetch and carry the equipment, and she was excellent when talking with the customers who all seemed to take to her. At the end of the day Katie said she had enjoyed her time chimney sweeping, but that she thought it was not a career option she wished to pursue!

A Rika Amato Stove Swept in Sturma

Posted By paddy

I have chosen to do this week’s blog on this very unusual stove that I swept at an address in Sturma this week. As you can see from the photo that it is a most striking and unusual stove. It has a cooking compartment at the top of the stove which the customer told me that they regularly use to roast joints of meat and to bake fresh bread. The stove itself purely a wood burning stove.

Research on the internet shows that Rika are an Austrian company:

RIKA Innovative Ofentechnik GmbH is one of the leading suppliers of high-quality wood-burning stoves and is market leader for pellet stoves in the German-speaking countries.

RIKA was founded 1951 in Micheldorf in Upper Austria and is run by Karl Riener as a family business in the second generation. The passion for stoves is really about creating quality of life. The claim to continuously set new benchmarks in terms of quality, innovation and design, leads to the continuous further development of stoves in terms of their form and function, resulting in a wide product portfolio of wood-burning, pellet and combi stoves, heating inserts and design fireplaces. With many years of experience in stove manufacturing and product innovations, such as the first pellet stove in Europe, RIKA is regarded as pioneer of the industry. With the “Green Innovation” seal, RIKA has made an undertaking in the interests of sustainability to voluntarily comply with all requirements and be certified under the strictest international regulations. RIKA has received many awards such as the most significant environment award on the global stage: the Energy Globe Award. The number of employees has risen to 300 over the years and the network of dealers spans across many countries.


The stove was installed by Nick Buckenham at Cut Maple Stoves, Sturmer Road, New England CO9 4BB



Email: cutmaple@fireplacesetc.co.uk


I must say casting an eye over the installation, Cut Maple had made a fantastic job of it. The customer told me that it was some of the best money he had ever spent and very reasonable at that considering the work done.

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