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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


Repairing a Multi-Fuel Stove in Debden Green

Posted By paddy

Well back to Chimney Sweeping this week instead of talking about the puppies; all of whom are doing well by the way. So, one of the things I have been up to this week has been to repair a Multi-fuel stove in Debden Green. This was a repair for one of my nicest regular customers and was important because the stove was responsible for heating the homes hot water. It was great however to help sorting something out for a loyal customer.






All this said, it was far from a straight forward repair as one of the things that required replacing was the grate bars. Unfortunately, although it was clearly a Yeoman stove, the customer did not know the model and no longer had the stoves purchase documentation. To get around this problem I took a number of photographs of the stove and measured the dimensions of the stove, including the required damaged components.

I then contacted a fantastic company called ‘Fire Spares’, Unit 4 Park Springs, Springvale Road, Grimethorpe, Barnsley S72 7BQ – Phone:  01226 715 100 Fax:  01226 715 800 Email:  info@firespares.co.uk Website:  www.firespares.co.uk – and then forwarded all the information to them. Within a short time they had identified the stove as a Yeoman Devon 50HB Multi-Fuel Stove and had ordered the requested parts. The best news was that they gave me a 15% trade discount because of my membership of the Guild of Master Sweeps. Within a week they had received and dispatched to me the parts; all I had to do was to attend the customers address and fit them. As I have said the customer was one of my best and most loyal clients, so in view of this I only charged her the cost of the parts to me plus £10 for supplying and fitting them, which seemed to be most satisfied with, which was nice!


Yet Another Pupdate – Rosie’s Departure

Posted By paddy

As we have been away for a couple of weeks and I have consequently not posted a blog, and because the puppy blogs are very popular, I thought I would start again with another installment. It is also a good time to do this as they are now over eight weeks old and they have grown considerably, but also because Rosie went to her new home yesterday. Tears were shed all around when she left as she was a real sweetie and seemed to be a miniature version of her mum Millie! Rosie is in the photo where she is being held up for the camera. It won’t be long now before Edgar and Arnie go to their new home too! Leaving naughty little Rodger with his mum.

Since we have been away the pups have had their first vaccinations and have settled into a daily routine. This involves waking up at about 5 am each day and a repeated cycle of eating, playing very boisterously for a while and then sleeping again; this goes on all day. Over the past weeks we have been trying to socialize them by taking them outside (carrying) and playing them unusual sounds (thunder, fireworks, gunfire and loud decent music, i.e. Hawkwind, King Crimson, Pink Floyd etc). On their trips outside the pups saw, horses, sheep and chickens on the farm where we were staying. All of which they found very fascinating and coped with exceedingly well. All this bodes well for the future, particularly as Rosie, Edgar and Arnie will all be working gun dogs.

Hopefully I will periodically keep you pudated with their progress.

A Further Pupdate by Popular Demand

Posted By paddy

These updates seem to be some of the most popular blogs that I have posted, much more popular it seems that Chimney sweeping anecdotes it would seem!

Everyone I’m sure will be pleased to learn that all four pups are doing well and thriving! They are now just over five weeks old; they have now all been registered with the Kennel Club and Micro-chipped. The weening process has started; they were introduced to solid puppy food over a week ago now and they have taken to it very well, regularly eating all their solid food in typical puppy fashion! Not like a spaniel to eat everything in sight whether they are hungry or not! The positive weening progress is good from the point of view of the mum Millie as she is having to feed the pups a lot less. Poor Millie was getting a bit tiered and sore from all the feeding she was having to do. It’s not surprising that she was getting a bit fed up of the pups feeding on her all the time, as they all now have very sharp little claws and teeth!

The new prospective owners of three of the pups came to see them and select which pups they were going to have. We had already selected Roger as the dog we were going to keep. The new owners were all very pleased with the progress the pups are making, and how rapidly they were growing and putting on size. They also each decided to give them their new names that they will be having. Pip will be Rosie, Widdle will be Arnie and Stanley will be Edgar, apparently after Edgar J. Hoover. They are the owners of Frank the sire dog, and of course Franks full name is Franklin D. Roosevelt! In just a few more weeks they will be leaving us and going on to their new homes (just eight weeks from birth).

Well I hope everyone has enjoyed the photos of the pups and this update on their progress? Hopefully I will post another update before they start leaving home.

Stove Problems in Weston Colville

Posted By paddy

Only yesterday a customer in Weston Colville called me to say that she had a live bird stuck in her chimney that she wanted removing; if possible alive. I was in the fortunate position yesterday that I was able to attend her address immediately and removed the said bird without it being caused to much harm; well other than the stress of being stuck down a chimney for a couple of hours!

The bird, most probably a pigeon, seemed to be located about half the way down the flue liner; the chimney being quite short only about seven and a half meters tall. I therefore decided to gently push the bird up the chimney and out the chimney pot using my large viper and a liner brush (150mm).  This was a most effective way of removing the bird from the flue without harming it. Bit by bit, I gently edged it up the liner until it was able to fly clear of the chimney pot. A job well done if I say so myself.

Prior to undertaking this removal, I had taken the precautions of spreading dust sheeting around the room, closing all the doors and opening all the windows. The customer had told me that the chimney had not been swept for at least three years, and potentially longer. So, I was cognizant of the fact that the chimney would be very dirty and consequently the bird would be very dirty and could create quite a bit of mess should it get out of the stove into the room. So, every precaution was taken to prevent this happening and to minimize any mess should it happen.

Whilst working to remove the bird from the chimney my attention had been drawn to the condition of the customers stove and installation. The customer had told me that the stove had been in place for at least 27 years and that the anti-bird cowl that had once sat on top of the chimney pot had been missing for quite some time. I could not identify the make or model of the stove, but it had the appearance of an inexpensive Chinese make. I noticed that the top of the stove, in particular the joint between stove and stove pipe was badly corroded; to the point that there was a significant hole at this junction. Presumably rain water had for some time been coming down the chimney because of the missing anti-bird cowl. To compound these problems the register plate had completely failed around the area of the stove pipe. Here, the register plate had been fabricated using flame-board, whereas at the sides it was steel. At some stage the flame-board had become cracked and pieces had simply dropped out (See Photographs). Further to all this, many of the internal components of the stove had failed and were broken, making its efficient operation impossible.

It was clear to me that the stove was no longer in a safe condition to use and presented a significant danger to the customer, particularly in terms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Although the customer did have a working Carbon Monoxide alarm, it was positioned quite some distance from the appliance and behind a bookcase. Building Regulations (Document J) states that the Carbon Monoxide alarm should be located between 1 to 3 meters from the appliance whereas the customers was about 6 meters from the appliance. Clearly, I had no option but to officially condemn the stove as it was not safe to use.

This is all very well, but it then creates the problem of breaking bad news to the customer; and how best to go about ameliorating their disappointment. Interestingly, it was only in the last few weeks that the Guild of Master Sweeps issued guidance to sweeps on how best to go about diplomatically imparting such information to customers. I went about it in the most sympathetic and empathetic way possible, pointing out the dangers the appliance presented whilst emphasizing the years of trouble-free use and pleasure the customer had had from the stove. I additionally supported her in suggesting local companies who could present her with the options for a replacement stove installation. I then fully documented the work I had done, the safety issues and photographed the appliance (copies were then supplied to the customer, who seemed to be more than satisfied with the service I had given her on the day.

Tune in next weekend for a further update on the progress of the puppies!

Coalbrookdale Severn Multi-Fuel Stove swept in Wendons Ambo

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this Coalbrookdale Severn Multi-Fuel Stove at an address in Wendons Ambo. As can be seen the flue was rather dirty; the material removed from the flue consisted largely of tarry deposits. These type of tarry deposits in a chimney potentially present something of a fire risk, so it was as well that the customer always has an annual sweep of their appliance. Such tarry deposits are usually caused by the customer turning down the stove too much. This deprives the fire of oxygen leading to incomplete combustion of the material in the firebox; which in turn leads to tarry deposits forming in the chimney and polluting emissions emanating out into the atmosphere. This is something that the government have been very concerned about in recent times, and which the customer can easily avoid by taking simple steps to burn their appliance in the correct manner. The answer is to NOT turn the appliance down too much! If there is always sufficient oxygen going into the appliance, then the fire will burn efficiently and there will be full combustion. This will avoid pollution going into the atmosphere and the chimney being coated with unwanted tarry deposits. I always advise my customers to keep an eye on the glass windows in their appliance if they have turned it down. I tell them that if they see tar forming on the glass (usually at the bottom first), then they need to turn the stove up slightly. This is because what the will observe happening on their stove glass presents a microcosm of what is occurring up their chimney, i.e. if the glass is starting to tar up then this will be happening much worse up their chimney. If in doubt customers should take a look at the Guild of Master Sweeps advice to customers and the ‘Burn Right’ campaign:



I do like these old Coalbrookdale Severn stoves, particularly the decorative swans on the air intake controls and the name Severn on the top of the stove. The Coalbrookdale Company also manufactures another similar stove called the Darby which has similar ornate decorative features.

I believe that these Severn stoves are no longer made any more, indeed any of the Coalbrookdale range of stoves. I understand that the Coalbrookdale was at some stage taken over by Aga, who make their own range of wood-burning stoves. As I have said previously, I see a lot of Severn Stoves in and around the Walden area; in particular in Radwinter, Wimbish, Ashdon, Wendons Ambo and Arkesden to name a few. However, in all these instances the stoves have been in place for a long time, 30 years plus in some instances. This leads me to believe that the stove was very popular in the past, and that someone locally was inclined to fit them by preference. One customer recently told me that it was Ridgeons who sold the entire range of Coalbrookdale stoves and that may people locally bought them and either fitted them themselves or had local builders do the work. Clearly this was in the days prior to specialist stove installers and would account for the fact that many of the installations Coalbrookdale stoves I have seen locally are not the best.

What I did find of interest whilst conducting my internet searches, was that the Coalbrookdale Company has an extremely long and interesting history that goes right back to the birth of the Industrial Revolution and far beyond. In the 12th Century the area of Coalbrookdale which is in Shropshire fell within the manor of Madeley, which belonged to Much Wenlock Priory. The monks here operated a bloomery (iron foundary) called “Caldebroke Smithy”. In 1536 bloomery recorded as still being in operation, however in 1540 during the dissolution of the Monistaries Much Wenlock Priory was closed by King Henry VIII, but the bloomery continued working. Then in 1544 the “Smethe Place” and “Calbroke Smethe” were leased to a Hugh Morrall. This is believed to refer to the Lower Forge (SJ667038) and Upper Forge (SJ669042). Before in 1545 the abbey’s lands being eventually bought by the king’s Italian physician, Agostino Agostini but he sold them in the same year (presumably at a profit) to a local man called Thomas Lawley. Then in 1572 the manor was acquired by John Brooke, who constructed a number of coal mines on his land and continued the operation of the bloomery.

In 1615 Brooke’s son, Sir Basil Brooke, bought the patent for making steel by the cementation process and built a blast furnace at Coalbrookdale. Interestingly, Brooke was arrested in 1644  by Parliament after being involved in a plot to prevent the Scottish army taking part in the English Civil War. The following year Brooke’s estate was sequestrated by Parliament but the works continued in use. Then in 1651 the manor was leased to Francis Wolfe, the clerk of the ironworks, by Brooke’s heirs.  Brooke had died in 1646 so presumably Parliament had returned the manor to his family. In 1658 – a new blast furnace and forges were built. In 1688 the ironworks were leased by a Shadrach Fox, who in 1696 was supplying round cannon shot and grenado shells to the Board of Ordnance during the Nine Years War. Unfortunately in 1703 the furnace blew up but the forges remained in use.

In 1709 Abraham Darby I acquired the lease and created the Coalbrookdale Company, an iron foundry which used coke as fuel to make pots and pans. The company had a very long history and is famous for making the first iron bridge which still stands to this day. In 1945 the company started manufacturing wood-burning stoves and the Rayburn cooker. In 1969 the company was absorbed into Allied Ironfounders Ltd.

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