Feature - courtesy of the
Hull Daily Mail
FACES blackened by soot, they
were once a common sight on East Yorkshire's streets.
But the chimney sweep fell out of
favour as British homes embraced the concept of central heating.
Today, with soaring energy costs
and the threat of climate change, chimney sweeps are making a
comeback as people return to more traditional ways of heating
British Gas, supplying energy to
almost half the households in the country, has already hiked up
its prices by 35 per cent, meaning families are now paying £400
a year more to heat their homes, and other companies are
For sweeps like Master Chimney
Sweep Jethro Vivian, self-proclaimed Keeper Of The Chimneys For
The Town Of Beverley, business is booming.
"In the past, people wanted
instant heat," he says. "People didn't want to come
home and start lighting fires, so they had central heating
installed to make it easier.
"That meant all these
beautiful fireplaces and Yorkist ranges were ripped out in the
1960s and 1970s and the openings were boarded up.
"But I've noticed in the
past two years, beginning around the time when people started
worrying gas was becoming scarce, more people are opening up
"More recently, with the
prices of gas and electricity going up, combined with the
exorbitant price of oil, more and more people are switching to
stoves and open fires."
Friends Of The Earth says more
and more people are turning to renewable sources of fuel to heat
their homes as the climate change message hits home.
Nick Rau, of Friends Of The
Earth, says: "It is not only that people are becoming more
aware of climate change, they are becoming aware switching to
renewable forms of energy can make a difference in terms of
their own fuel bills.
"Wood-burning stoves are one
of the most cost-effective ways to cut heating bills. "We
have a lot of woodland that isn't being managed and there is
also a lot of waste wood from the construction industry "At
the moment, that goes into the waste stream, so diverting it
away from landfill is a great idea as it can be used as wood
fuel once it's cleaned and dried."
Based in Beverley, Jethro Vivian
is now receiving calls from four new customers every week as
boarded-up fireplaces throughout Hull and the East Riding are
opened up and chimneys need sweeping.
Open fires, mainly coal, became
popular throughout Britain during the Industrial Revolution and
chimney sweeps became a familiar sight in our towns and cities.
Coal fires continued into the
20th century, although the problem of air pollution -including
the Great Smog of 1952, which claimed at least 4,000 lives -
raised environmental and health concerns.
In 1956, the Clean Air Act was
passed, restricting areas where coal could be burned and
relocating power stations to rural areas.
With the restrictions still in
place today, it means people living in smokeless zones throughout
Britain, including parts of Hull and the East Riding, must burn
smokeless fuel, such as anthracite or coke, which does not
produce visible smoke while burning.
restrictions, combined with the growing popularity of central
heating in the 1960s and 1970s, saw the number of homes with
open fires reduced even further.
open fires and stoves burning wood and solid fuel such as coal
are growing in popularity as the environmental message, combined
with the effects of the credit crunch, hit home.
from his base in Beverley for lunch last week, his answer-hone
dealt with seven new inquiries in just one hour.
of people have always had an open fire," says Mr Vivian.
in villages around Beverley without a gas supply have always had
them and some pensioners would never consider having anything
other than a coal fire.
we're getting lots of inquiries from new customers now, keen to
open up fireplaces and convert to stoves, particularly
not a difficult process, providing your chimney will support an
carry out checks to ensure your chimney doesn't need to be
relined and conduct smoke evacuation tests before we issue
certificates. Provided that goes well, people can reinstate a
Class 1 chimney and most people are choosing to install a
multi-fuel stove, allowing them to have the best of both worlds
by using coal, logs or smokeless fuels."
Brown, of the Fireplace Superstore in Mount Pleasant, Hull, said
more and more people are switching over to wood-burning or
is growing in popularity and a lot of people tell us it's
because gas and oil prices are going up," he said.
fuel stoves cost from £500, with fitting about £100, while
stoves that can heat water and power an existing gas central
heating system are more expensive, starting at £1,000.
Brown said: "They are more economical to run and a lot of
people are going for solid fuel stoves combined with a back
boiler to heat water and their central heating.
get someone coming in at least every couple of weeks who wants
to change over."
Jethro's Master Sweep Cart - for Wedding and other occasions
and also featured on Radio Humberside's Carl Wheatley's Saturday morning
of the Trade - The truth about open fires, multi-fuel stoves and log burners'
- now available from Amazon - only £2.99.
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