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Little Bardfield – Coalbrookdale Darby Multi-Fuel Stove

Posted By paddy

 Here is something of a survivor from days gone by, Coalbrookdale stoves and worthy of my weekly blog. I see plenty of retro Coalbrookdale stoves around the area, but the vast majority of them are the Little Wenlock model or less so the Severn model. So, it was nice to see this Coalbrookdale Darby Multi-Fuel Stove at an address in Little Bardfield the other day. The house also boasted a more modern stove, but only slightly, a Vermont Defiant Wood-Burning stove. Both of these stoves would quite happily fit into my category of monster stoves. Both have huge capacious fire-boxes and throw out a great deal of heat when the are in operation. Fortunately for the customer, both these stoves are situated in extremely large rooms, so are well placed to heat the rooms efficiently, but not to overheat them.

Coalbrookdale stoves are now made by the Aga Rangemaster company, in the form of an updated range of stoves, one of which is still called the ‘little Wenlock’. The Aga group is a midlands company based in Leamington Spa and has been manufacturing its stoves in a factory in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, since 1930. The first Aga oven was designed by Swedish Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gustaf Dalen in 1922 and production started in the West Midlands seven years later.

Coalbrookdale is a famous Foundry in England that has been credited with some major “firsts” in the field of Iron Casting. The foundry was the site of the first coke-fired iron smelting furnace in the world, built by Abraham Darby in 1708 out of an existing charcoal furnace. The first blast day for the new furnace was 10 January 1709, and from the start, Darby produced cheap iron pots using a new, dry-sand mold technique, with complete success. They casted iron rails for the first trains as well as the parts for the world’s first cast iron bridge, which can still be seen today spanning the River Severn at Iron Bridge.

What I did find of interest whilst conducting my internet searches looking at Coalbrookdale stoves, 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.

Sweeping in Elsworth, Cambridgeshire

Posted By paddy

Here is a bit of a novelty to us, as a result of a request for a favour from one of our regular customers, we went to sweep a stove chimney at their close friends in the village of Elsworth, Cambridgeshire. Beautiful though it is, Elsworth has a signal claim to fame. In the 1940’s and 1950’s the villages rector, the Rev Wilbert Vere Awdry wrote the Thomas the Tank Engine stories from the vicarage. As can be seen in the photo there is a blue plaque to him on the wall of the vicarage. The reverend Awdry was an all-round railway enthusiast and had a large model railway set up in the basement of the vicarage. Some of the locals we spoke with told us that the tables that the model railway sat on were still in the basement. The reverend Awdry grew up in a house called Journeys End in Box in Wiltshire. “Journey’s End” was only 200 yards (180 m) from the western end of Box Tunnel, where the Great Western Railway main line climbs at a gradient of 1 in 100 for 2 miles (3.2 km). A banking engine was kept there to assist freight trains up the hill.[6] These trains usually ran at night, and the young Awdry could hear them from his bed, listening to the coded whistle signals between the train engine and the banker as well as the sharp bark from the locomotive exhausts as they fought their way up the incline.[6] Awdry said, “There was no doubt in my mind that steam engines all had definite personalities. I would hear them snorting up the grade and little imagination was needed to hear in the puffings and pantings of the two engines the conversation they were having with one another.” Here was the inspiration for the story of Edward helping Gordon‘s train up the hill, a story that Wilbert first told his son Christopher some 25 years later, and which appeared in the first of the Railway Series books.

The rectory and the church are in the lane directly opposite the thatched cottage where we were sweeping. As can be seen from the photos the appliance being swept is a Vermont Intrepid wood-burning stove.

Little Walden – Godin Fonteval 10Kw Multi-Fuel Stove

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this very unusual, business like Godin Stove at an address in Little Walden. This example is a Godin Fonteval 10Kw Multi-Fuel Stove. This stove was an admirable finishing touch to a large room in a large farmhouse. I’m sure its presence means that the room can be enjoyed by the family all year round! In this instance the chimney was not lined it being an old-fashioned stove pipe installation. This said the customer reports that the stove operates more than satisfactorily without having a liner attached to it. Unfortunately, for the poor old chimney sweep it is much more difficult to clean than a lined appliance. Looking on the internet these old Godin’s 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 Godin 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.

The Chimneys at Weobley Castle on the Gower Peninsula

Posted By paddy

During our recent road trip around the UK, we visited a number of tourist attractions in between visiting family. In nine days, we stayed at Crosby in Liverpool, Chester, Ludlow, New Quay in Ceredigion, Tenby, Wenvoe near Cardiff and Stanton St John near Oxford. During this time, we spent a day on the Gower peninsula and came across Weobley castle with its magnificent chimneys. I couldn’t resist inserting these into a blog as they were so interesting. They were obviously inserted into the castle sometime in the late Middle Ages. One of them was so by my daughter Emma and her boyfriend Rhys could comfortably fit inside it!

The existing buildings were largely created between 1304 and 1327 by the de la Bere family. They consist of a gateway, a hall and kitchen, a chapel block and an east range, enclosing a courtyard, all now in a semi-ruinous state. The buildings are largely constructed of rubble masonry with window and door features of sandstone.

The gateway, at the west of the castle, is framed to its north by the solar block, which contained the lord’s private chamber, a latrine and a cellar space. To the south of the gateway is the so-called Cistern Turret, which is believed to have contained a cistern for rainwater storage; behind this is the South-West Tower, which was originally a separate building and may be the oldest part of the present structure. The gateway itself also included an additional living chamber in its upper storey. The northern range of the castle, including the hall, kitchen and porch leading from the inner courtyard, is the most substantial of the surviving sections. Features of the hall include a recess for the display of tapestry or panelling. This supports interpretations of the castle as primarily a wealthy residence rather than a military outpost. During excavations at the Chapel Block, fragments of a piscina were discovered. The eastern range is more fragmentary that other parts, and much of it may never have been developed beyond the foundation stage during the ownership of the de la Beres. Although most of the outer fortifications no longer exist, the remaining portions demonstrate that Weobley was well provided with guestrooms and facilities (including garderobes). The building was extended later in the 14th century, including construction of the south porch.

Until the 15th century the castle was the home of the de la Beres, originally stewards to William De Braose, Lord of Gower. In 1318 the castle is recorded by a deed signed there by Adam de la Bere.

The castle was attacked and damaged by the forces of Owain Glyndŵr in the early 15th century, but most of the building was left standing. It is possible that John de la Bere (d. 1403) was a casualty of Glyndŵr’s incursion. Sir Rhys ap Thomas became the owner towards the end of the 15th century; following the execution for treason of Rhys’s grandson Rhys ap Gruffydd in 1531, Weobley eventually reverted to the Crown in the person of King Henry VIII. It was then sold and subsequently leased to tenants until the 20th century, when the last owner, Emily Talbot, gave it to the state in 1911.

Great Bardfield – Blue Enamel Franco-Belge Viceroy Multi-Fuel Stove  

Posted By paddy

Now here is a very attractive little enamel Franco-Belge stove that carries on the French tradition for colored enamel stoves which goes back to the last century. This example is a Blue Enamel Franco-Belge Viceroy Multi-Fuel Stove that I have been sweeping for some time now at an address in Great Bardfield. Fortunately for me the Franco-Belge Viceroy is one of the easier of the Franco-Belge stoves to work on. It is one of those stoves that is quite simple to dismantle and put back together, unlike some of the other stoves in the Franco-Belge stove range. I think that you will all agree that the blue enamel and period design of this stove is rather attractive and quite becoming.

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

Haverhill – Parkray Aspect 5 Multi-Fuel Stove

Posted By paddy

I really like this little stove with its large glass window, in fact the stove is mostly window, so you get a really good view of the fire – Always a most attractive feature in any stove. This is the Parkray Aspect 5 which comes in Multi-Fuel Stove and wood-burning varieties. I sweep an awful lot of these Parkray Aspect 5 stoves, the vast majority of which have been installed by Cut Maple Stoves from New England Sturma. I recently swept this multi-fuel example of the Parkray Aspect 5 stove at an address in Haverhill.

Parkray Stoves are now part of the Hunter Stove Group. Hunter Stoves was founded in the West Country in 1970 and now manufacture their stoves at a site near Exeter. Hunter bought the Parkray company in 2003 and absorbed the brand into its product range. In 2008 Hunter Stoves bought a site a Camelford in Cornwall as a research and development department, but they now produce some stoves there as well. In 2015 the company rebranded as the Hunter Stoves Group and now produce such brands as; HeraldHS GasDi Lusso, AvalonCleanburnEco-ideal and Parkray.

Rais Viva L120 Wood-Burning Stove Swept in Wimbish

Posted By paddy

Up until relatively recently I had not come across any examples of these Rais stoves, but I am now beginning to see more and more of them. This attractive contemporary cylindrical model is the Rais Viva L120 Wood-Burning Stove. They are as you can see very stylish and well put together. They are also relatively easy to work on which is good for the chimney sweep. I think that they are very stylish and contemporary in their looks. Rais stoves can only be bought from authorized UK dealerships.

Rais are a Danish company who export 90% of their stoves to other countries in Western Europe and the United States. The Rias factory is located at Frederikshavn in Danemark and employs over 80 people in the production of stoves and each with their own personal responsibility. Their marketing stresses that if you buy a Rais stove “you get Danish design that never compromises on quality, we call it the art of the fire”. They have a large range of different stove models, including: the Caro 90, 110 and Caro SST, the Viva L 100, 120, 140 and 160, the Nexo 100, 120, 140 and 160, & 185, Max 600, the Pilar, the Juno L 120 & 160, the Q-Tee, Q-Tee 2 & Q-Tee C, The Bionic and the Q-Be & Q-Be XL.


Sitting Hare on the Thatch in Therfield

Posted By paddy

I recently saw this sitting hare on the thatched roof at an address in Therfield near Royston, where I was sweeping a couple of chimneys. Hares seem to be the most common of animals that are represented on thatched roofs. I suppose this is because they are representative and emblematic of the English countryside and country pastimes. Close to the heart of country people as it were.

I found this lovely poem about Hares on the internet:

Runner in the Snow By Jeremy Wyatt

The Queen of Winter looked about,
tinged with sorrow, touched by doubt.
The time of change was in the air,
a keen smell dancing through her hair.
Springtimes breath should fill her dreams,
casting spells of summers peace,
as with her court she, serene sleeps,
awaiting on autumns counsel fair.

But troubled now, her gaze is sharp,
what things are come forth from the dark.
Drawn uncalled by winters cold,
things unholy, things too old.
Prowling in the biting frost,
preying on unwary lost.

“there is a way,” she says to all,
“to reawaken springs fair call.
I need a braveheart, strong and true,
to carry springtimes promise through!”
None spoke, none moved, all-fearing stood,
then from beneath Her throne of wood,
“I’ll go.”

And there was an unlooked for guest,
a small young Hare to take the quest,
And she remembered then his face,
beneath last years fall of  leaves.
A little leverett, bereft, born too late,
so sadly left, but seen by chance.
Compassion in the great ones glance.

Set free to tumble in the spring,
to run and dance, and dream and sing.
But wise to evils coming threat,
returned to pay his debt.

“I’ll carry springtimes welcome song,
my eyes are bright, my legs are strong,
and though I know you dread I’ll fail,
a faithful heart can but prevail!”

A speech of such unwitting grace,
that tears did stain the lady’s face.

“So little one, you made a choice,
how gentle is your sweet young voice,
and I instill my strength and love,
to bear your burden far.
And if you fall, the world will know,
my tears of ice will stain the snow.”

A little bag of felt was made,
new boots of doeskin,
laced and tied,
a cap to cover well his head,
and then the time,
to face the dread.

“Into this bag I place the spring,
no feather weight, no little thing,
though sadness wishes you could tarry,
this burden forth we ask you carry.”
And so with spells of love and care,
out into winter sped our hare.

Through the secret postern gate,
into unremitting hate,
dreading not the rising fear,
but only that the spring was late.

Trotting lightly over snow,
the little lad did boldly go,
leaving lightest prints  behind,
nothing for the Beasts to find.
But, stirring in the darker woods,
creatures of despair still stood.

Crawling, stooping, no poise or grace,
evil made a start to chase,
our little hare, who, so well aware,
kept a steady pace.

Beasts of the pit, deep in the earth,
smother life with their dark curse,
drawn to light to look askance,
hating their own long lost chance.

Breaking through and into sight,
using all the darkest might,
straining fibre, blood and bone
to **** our little hare.

Dancing, swerving, to and fro,
Is he caught? Ah through, now go!
How can one so slim and small,
battle evil spirits tall?
But, from towers far above,
flows an ancient, caring love.

Sending creatures of the woods,
fight the evil with their good,
crows and eagles, claws and beaks,
wolves and foxes, strength and teeth.
Fighting now for what they chased,
and grateful for his speed unceased.

” Pass beyond us, little hare,
and we will turn and, face the stare!
Whatever evil comes to pass,
we dream of springtimes fragrant grass”

So captains of the wood as one,
stand together as they come,
though many fall not to arise,
they battled evils changing guise.
None pass unmissed, she sees them fall,
The Ice Queen marks their everyfall.

The breathless runner toils anew,
oh can he take this burden through?
the night is falling dark and fast,
and still dark forces  are amassed.

New foes astir, claw at his feet,
sharp teeth snap, and call deceit,
arms of knotted sinew strain,
to clutch, to grasp, but still in vain!
Our little hero runs so swift,
at each new threat his own pace lifts.

Cut and wounded by the beasts,
ragged ears, and bleeding feet,
nothing slows the running hare,
“come, you catch me if you dare!”
he gasps beneath a fell  beasts stare…

Then, coming slowly into view,
a wondrous sight, and hope anew,
a woodland tinged with shades of green,
could this be spring, will he get through?

And now the Green Man of the spring,
sees the chase and starts to sing,
“Come all my peoples of warm earth,
we’ll war these beasts of death and dearth!”
Flashing eyes, and racing foes,
to battle now for good they  go.

Now at the Green Mans feet hare lies,
the light now fading from his eyes,
his burden passed to hands of care,
all gaze with wonder, little hare!
His duty done, his race is run,
it’s now his time to die.

But from afar, a Snow Maids call,
“this once, Man listen to my call,
I’ll ask of you no other thing,
than heal this creature, let us sing!”

Together, distant words that heal,
renew the turning of lifes wheel,
The young hare races, where he will,
Watch, and you’ll see him, running still

Braintree – Heta Scan-Line 7D Multi-Fuel Stove

Posted By paddy

I sweep an awful lot of Heta stoves, the vast majority of which have been installed by Cut Maple Stoves from New England Sturma. Most of these tend to be the Heta Inspire 40, 45 and 55, the 45 in particular. However, the other day I came across this rather attractive, modern cylindrical Heta Scan-Line 7D Multi-Fuel Stove, a model of Heta that I had not worked on before. Like all Heta stoves, it was a dream to dismantle and put back together following cleaning. It is rather an attractive looking contemporary stove I’m sure you will agree. The customer is certainly pleased with its appearance and performance, telling me that it is very efficient at heating the room as well as being pleasing to the eye.

HETA is a family-owned business, located in Lemvig near the west coast of Jutland in Denmark. This is where HETAs stoves are developed and manufactured from idea to finished product. Today, HETA is selling stoves to customers in 22 countries. HETA was founded in 1972 with Erik Bach at the steering wheel for the first many years. Today, Erik’s two sons, Carsten and Martin Bach, are heading the company.

For the first couple of years, the company produced hot water containers, refrigeration plants, tanks for fishing vessels and feeders for agriculture. In 1984, HETA started a collaboration with L. Lange & Co, a Danish iron foundry in Svendborg, founded by Lars Lange, a manufacturer of old cast iron stoves since 1850. After a few years later, HETA acquired L. Lange & Co’s activities.

In 1989, HETA developed the first of a long series of modern stoves, which laid the foundation for all the stoves in HETAs current range. Today, HETA also manufactures stove inserts, pellet stoves, aqua stoves, thermal mass stoves and outdoor stoves to quality-conscious consumers, not only in Denmark but worldwide.

Heta Stoves

Jupiterej 22

DK-7620 Lemvig



Stambourne – Bernard Davis & Co Regal Wood-Burning Stove

Posted By paddy

Another large stove – Here is a Bernard Davis & Co Regal Wood-Burning Stove that I swept at an address in Stambourne. It is quite a large stove with a 10Kw output, enough to keep the largest of rooms warm I should think. Being positioned in a large sitting room of a large old farmhouse, I should thing that it is the ideal type of stove to do the job. It is a very traditional and ornate stove as are the other stoves in the Bernard Davis & Co stove range. They manufacture other models all of which are traditional in appearance and very ornate, they include the Rosalyn with a 12.5Kw output, the Majestic with a 6.5Kw output, the Handsome with a 7.5Kw output, the Fairview with a 4.5Kw output, the New Forestman with a 4.5Kw output, the Baby Balmoral with a 6Kw output, the Brightview with a 4.5Kw output, the Supreme with a 10.5 Kw output, the Little Wonder with a 3 Kw output and the Magnus with a 9.5 Kw output. All their stove come in multi-fuel or purely wood-burning models. Bernard Davis & Co stoves are based in East Sussex.

Bernard Davis & Co


T: 01323 484132

M: 07770 355807