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Chimney sweeps - Solid fuel fires - Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire

Chimney Sweep in Harpenden, Hertfordshire

Chimney sweeping in Harpenden

The history of Harpenden

There is evidence of pre roman Belgic farmers in the Harpenden area. In 1867 several items were found including a bronze escutcheon, rams head shaped mounts, and a bronze bowl.

There are Roman remains in land around Harpenden too. For example, the site of a mausoleum in the park at Rothamsted. A tumulus near the river Lea was opened in the 1820s and it contained a stone sarcophagus of Romano-Celtic origin. Five objects dating from around 150 AD, were inside including a glass jug with a Mediterranean stamp and samian ware dishes used for libations.

Up to the 13th century the area of the parish consisted of woodland with small hamlets and single farmsteads around cleared areas called "End" or "Green" and there are 19 Ends and 18 Greens in the area of Harpenden and Wheathampstead parishes. Many of these are still evident today.

Harpenden village grew out of Westminster Abbeys gradual clearing of woodland for farming and settlement within its Wheathampstead manor, granted by Edward the Confessor in 1060. A first reference to a parish church is in 1221 and is referred to as Harpendene, so it is inferred that the village grew up around then. The church of St Nicholas is the oldest church in the town, originally built as a Chapel of ease in 1217.

Just beyond the southern edge of the town lies Nomansland Common, which is normally called "No Mans Land", upon which part of the Second Battle of St Albans was fought during the Wars of the Roses. Nomansland Common also saw the first annually contested steeplechase in England, in 1830 when it was organised by Thomas Coleman, and the last fight of nineteenth century bare knuckle fighter, Simon Byrne. It was also the haunt of the highwaywoman known as Lady Katherine Ferrers, better known as the "Wicked Lady".

A widespread industry of Harpenden was straw weaving, a trade mainly carried out by women in the nineteenth century. A good straw weaver could make as much as a field labourer. The straw plaits were taken to the specialist markets in St Albans or Luton and bought by dealers to be converted into straw items such as boaters and other hats or bonnets.

Between 1848 and 1914 the common was a regular venue for horse racing. Golf has been played on the Common since 1894 and it was at that time Harpenden Golf Club was set up by a group of Harpenden people with the help and a financial contribution of 5 pounds from Sir John Bennet Lawes of Rothamsted Manor. The club moved to a new course at Hammonds End in 1931, at which time Harpenden Common Golf Club was formed by those who wanted to remain at the Common. In 1932 Bamville Cricket club was formed and shares part of the Common with the Golfers.

Harpendens most prestigious contribution to history is Rothamsted Manor and Rothamsted Research, a leading centre for agricultural research. In front of its main building, which faces the common, is a stone, erected in 1893, commemorating 50 years of experiments by Sir John Bennet Lawes and Joseph Henry Gilbert.

In 1913 the National Childrens Home moved to Harpenden with a large site Highfield Oval which was home to over 200 children. The site featured a print works, a carpenters and joiners shop, a bootmakers shop and a farm where boys undertook apprenticeships. Girls were mainly trained in domestic service with some being trained in sewing and office work. The children lived in a "family" of 8-10 children each run by a sister or house mother. The chapel was a gift from Joseph Rank and was built in 1928. The home was run on site until 1985. The site is now the head office of Youth With A Mission an international Christian missionary organization.

During the Second World War, Harpenden was used to evacuate children from a heavily bombed London. However, Harpenden was not totally confident in its safety, as evidenced by the now decaying Bowers Parade air raid shelters, soon to be secured for the future. It has been suggested both that it be used for educational and emergency training purposes.

The Harpenden and District Local History Society has a collection of local material and archives which can be consulted, and holds regular meetings on topics of historical interest.

What Ansell Chimneys do when they visit your Harpenden home?

  • We usually require about half an hour per chimney to do a proper sweep.
  • It is important that the area in front of the fire is cleared so we have no furniture in the way to hinder access to the fireplace and it protects your valuables too. An area of about 6 square feet should be adequate.
  • On certain properties, the chimney may be swept through an external hatch in the chimney breast. Although these are great from our point of view for access, we will still need to come into your home to ensure that no debris from the sweeping process has fallen into the fireplace or any soot has fallen into the room, causing a mess.
  • With the use of dust sheets over the fireplace, we effectively seal off the area as an extra barrier against chimney debris getting into the room. However, if soft furnishings or delicate objects are close to the fireplace, we ask that you cover these or remove them just to make sure they are safe.
  • You will not be required to cover all the furniture and surfaces in the room where the fireplace is, unless you really want to.
  • All we really need is somewhere close by to plug in our powerful vacuum cleaner. We can then commence the sweeping process with our brushes, rods and the vacuum to remove the soot and any other debris that is dislodged.
  • Ansell Chimneys will leave your room, fireplace and chimney clean and safe to use once again.

Call Ansell Chimneys out to Harpenden when it's convenient for you

To be certain of a safely operating chimney, you should have them swept about once a year. The most sensible time to have your chimney swept is during the warmer months, as you are unlikely to be using the fire. Like so many things that happen annually, it's all too easy to forget to book them in time, so to get around this problem Ansell Chimneys offer a useful reminder service and will give you a call annually or bi-annually, the choice is yours.

Ansell Chimneys keep your Harpenden home clean and dust free

Most people think that chimney sweeping is one of the dirtiest procedures around, but the method Ansell Chimneys use means that very little soot, dust or debris will find its way into your living space. We offer a very clean service so you can keep your Harpenden home clean.

Why not ask Ansell Chimneys for advice on sweeping your chimney in Harpenden

Ansell Chimneys really are the experts, If you are experiencing a lack of draw on a chimney, or smoke finding its way back into your room, give us a call; we are always very happy to provide advice on what could potentially be a life threatening situation.

Ansell Chimneys advice is free of charge. If you can't use your fire because it's dangerous, you will be missing out on the homely glow a real fire brings during the winter months. So why not give us a call and get that open fire up and running again.

Cost of chimney sweeping services

Our prices are based on the property location and number of chimneys that need sweeping. Please contact us for a no obligation quote. As Harpenden is not far from our head office, jobs here will not attract a higher quote.

Birds nests and blockage removal in Harpenden

One of the first signs that an animal is making a home, or has previously made one in your chimney is that there will be twigs, leaves or other debris in the fireplace that has fallen from above. The most frequent culprits that like to set up residence in your chimneys tend to be some of the carrion birds, such as crows and magpies and occasionaly squirrels. There are plenty of these creatures around Harpenden and as the town expands, their natural habitat is decreased. This simply means they will look for an alternative place to roost or nest, as the number of trees diminishes.

Any obstruction in a chimney can be potentially lethal! It's not just the solid fuel fires that are a problem either, even a gas fire will release carbon monoxide back into the living space if it can't escape safely up the chimney. When it comes to a fire that burns solid fuels, the chimney can become blocked resulting in smoke coming back into the room or a chimney fire could start, causing a huge amount of expensive damage to the rest of your home.

If you think there is a blockage in your chimney, don't wait for something bad to happen, give us a call immediately. We will remove the blockage and in doing so, be in a better position to tell you why it happened in the first place. For example, there may be a loose or dislodged brick or piece of mortar. It may even be a nest from a bird or squirrel and a bird cap or cowl may well be the answer to prevent it happening again in the future.

Because birds eggs and nests are protected by law in England and Wales and that there may be hatched baby birds in a nest, we will not remove nests during the breeding season, which is May & June, this ensures that the young have had a good chance to leave the nest. After all, there are fewer birds around Harpenden already because of loss of habitat, light pollution and the increase in the number of cats that are kept as pets. Ansell Chimneys like to ensure that we don't contribute to the decline of our little feathered friends.

Bird cages, caps and cowls fitted in Harpenden

Should your chimney require a cap or cowl, Ansell Chimneys will have the one to suit your property to protect against the following:

  • Birds or squirrels getting into and possibly nesting in the chimney
  • Our caps and cowls prevent rain from getting into the chimney
  • A good quality cowl or cap stops down drafts
  • To prevent bird and rain entry to a disused chimney, leaving the homeowner with an option to start using a fire in the future without having to clear many years build up of debris.

It is vital to fit the correct type of bird cage, cowl or cap, or problems may occur. With Ansell Chimneys valuable experience, we can identify your particular needs and advise you on the correct type for your situation. We will also look at the other houses nearby to ensure we fit one that is in keeping with the Harpenden area.

Ansell Chimneys fit all the major types of cages, caps and cowls, so let us know what you want to keep out of your chimney and we can tell you what would be the best option for you.

Ansell Chimneys have a selection of cowls in our vans to demonstrate what they look like and what they are most effective at keeping out of the chimney. We will then arrange to come back to Harpenden to install the correct cap or cowl to your chimney.

Fitting the caps and cowls is a relatively straightforward job and we do everything we can to avoid the need for scaffolding or other specialised access equipment, a ladder will usually be sufficient.

Fortunately, Harpenden is well within our 'areas covered' range so this will not push the price up at all for either chimney sweeping or bird caps and cowl fitting.

Smoke tests

After Ansell Chimneys have swept your chimney, we carry out a quick, simple but effective test to ensure there is the correct draw and no smoke or other pollutants can flow back into your living space. This is quite simply a match-like device that smokes profusely when burnt and is placed just above the site of the fire. If the smoke is neatly drawn up the chimney, the fire will be safe to use.

So if you live in Harpenden and need your chimney swept, why not call or email Ansell Chimneys and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Ansell Chimneys

t: 01923 661 614

m: 07941 282 325

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