Guild Of Master Sweeps Certified
07587 134589
Guild Of Master Sweeps Certified

How much soot is in your chimney?

ANY glance at your chimney will tell you zero about how much soot is stuck inside the structure.

That’s the frustrating thing for householders. It’s not like breadcrumbs on the table left by the kids after a messy meal or dust hiding under the glass cabinet which you can hoover up in a moment.

All you can do is stare at your fireplace and then walk outside and stare at your chimney. And then make the typical comment, ‘Well, I’d better get that chimney swept’.

The truth is that it’s impossible to know how much soot has clogged up inside your chimney, after you last used your indoor fire, to keep everyone snug and well. It will depend on the amount of fuel you used, the moisture content of the wood, the burn rate and how often your flue has been swept before.

Residents in the Tunbridge Wells – Crowborough – Sevenoaks areas will be fully aware that James the Sweep uses latest technology including power sweeping gear, when sweeping chimneys. This means that James is able to literally access every nook and cranny to sweep out the soot in your chimney flue. Don’t forget that chimneys come in all types of shapes and sizes. The gap can be narrow in places and sometimes there can also be kinks and corners, which are difficult to access.

The challenge of tiny spaces were awful for child chimney sweeps in days of old, when they could get trapped inside the chimney. Fortunately we’ve put those days behind us (although we all know that other types of child labour are still an issue in some countries) and chimney sweeping equipment is able to do the job well. So nevermind how much soot is inside the chimney – the fact that there is ANY soot at all poses a hazard to your family, as it puts you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or uncontrolled chimney fires.

Give yourself some peace of mind. Let James sweep your chimney so that you can worry about other things in the house. James charges only £60 as a standard rate to sweep a chimney, which includes a smoke test and a certificate of sweeping, which can be of benefit for household insurance. If you live in Kent or East Sussex – call James the Sweep right now to make a booking. James is a member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps and he has swept chimneys in the region for more than 20 years. 07587 134589 – please call that number to book a sweep.



Discover the medieval chimney at Tonbridge Castle

KENT has many fascinating manor houses and castles to wet the appetite of residents and visitors alike to the garden of England.

Tunbridge Castle is such an impressive building, majestically dominating the friendly town of Tonbridge. And in the castle itself, with all its interesting history and artefacts, there is a structure which is surely the masterpiece for any visitor – the medieval chimney.

Surrounded by intricately decorated columns, uppermost on the wall, the chimney is a superb example of craftsmanship situated in the great hall, located on the second floor of the castle. The roof itself is also worth a climb, simply for the beautiful views of the castle area below such as the motte from the Norman era.

So, to ask an obvious question: what purpose did the splendid chimney serve in ye olden times at Tunbridge Castle?

Castles faced a challenge as to how to dispel smoke from fireplaces and it was an important point because the hearth was the centrepiece for any Lord, Lady and family. Smoke would escape visa gaps in the walls but this wasn’t ideal; and louvres were constructed in the roof, which could be controlled with a rope.

Smoke chambers were also created with partitions made by the hearth to trap the smoke. This took up space in the hall which, again, wasn’t ideal. Then – brilliant idea – the thought came to fashion a funnel from the wall to the exterior. In effect, a flue, a rudimentary chimney. Edward King in 1782 noted that the flue in Tunbridge Castle began in the upper state room before it went up and then sloped to the rear within the depths of the wall itself and then exited.

Tunbridge Castle has a long history stretching back to its origins just after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 when Richard Fitzgilbert, supporter of William the Conqueror, was given land in Kent and constructed the forerunner of the present castle: a Motte and Bailey castle.

Yet if you do visit the castle today, please do take time to marvel at the chimney, which was created in Medieval times. It serves as a beautiful reminder of the importance Kentish folk have attached to indoor fires for hundreds of years. A passion that still exists today for householders from Tonbridge right through to Maidstone, then Sevenoaks and further beyond; whether they live in manor or humble dwelling. James the Sweep can verify to the fact this passion exists. People in Kent love their fireplaces and love their chimneys.

Book a sweep in time for Christmas!

Is it too early to mention the word, ‘Christmas’? Whoooops… slip of the brush. Why would we be talking about Santa Claus when we’re still trying our best to lap up the last few weeks of summer; enjoying ice creams when we can, heading to the beach and trying to ignore the fact that the Autumn term starts very soon, the kids are back at school – and colder weather is on the horizon.

And we all know what that means. The sight of those brown and yellow leaves scattered across the beautiful lawns and parks of Kent – from Tunbridge Wells across to Maidstone – indicates the seasons are a’ changing. If there’s one thing that’s sure about Autumn too, it’s that Winter is not far behind!

So, if you are trying to make the most out of your last days in the summer and getting the uniforms ready for the term ahead, spare a thought. It’s just a single thought: about Mr Claus esq. mentioned above. How can the merry red gent manage to fit down your chimney when the famous December 25 date arrives, if it s clogged up with thick, mucky, dirty soot? And how – just HOW – can you enjoy a proper fire indoors, if your chimney has not been swept properly in time?

In the words of Delboy, ‘you know it makes sense’. There’s not a great deal of time left before Christmas arrives. So get your diary out now and book a chimney sweep with James the Sweep, the Master Sweep for Tunbridge Wells and nearby areas (tel: 07587 134589). Don’t forget too that it’s not just the festive season when you’ll need to use your indoor fire. Autumn will bring it a chilly air and it’s wise to prepare for that now. Get your chimney in fine working order for the fire burning season. Enjoy peace of mind so that you can focus on other things. Arrange a chimney sweeping appointment with James and get reassurance that you are protecting your household from the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from your indoor fire and the chance of uncontrolled chimney fires.

James the Sweep is THE chimney sweep for residents in Tunbridge Wells, Southborough, Tonbridge, Maidstone, Crowborough, Pembury, Paddock Wood, Sevenoaks and areas inbetween. He is a professional in the trade and a standard sweep costs just £60. Why not contact James today and ask his opinion about your indoor fire set-up?

Sweeping your own chimney is not recommended

THIS PHOTO gives an indication as to why sweeping your own chimney is probably not a good idea.

Isn’t that a contradiction? James the Sweep has published advice on how to sweep your own chimney – if you really want to do it.

Even so, things can go wrong! For a start, you need the right equipment. Not just a long-handled broom but a VERY long chimney brush with a brush that perfectly fits your chimney flue, to ensure every nook and cranny is cleared of soot. It’s hard work sweeping the chimney and a chimney camera will help you see if the job’s been a success. You may need get up on the roof to check things (is the cowl alright? What do you think?). Ah… birds’ nest. How will you deal with that? Or perhaps bats have taken up residence.

Don’t forget that the dust sheet needs to be perfectly positioned to catch all the soot. You won’t want any in the room. Is the job finished? How would you know? When is the right moment to definitely say ‘this chimney is clear of soot’. Remember that we want all the soot cleared or there’s a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or chimney fires.

And it’s not even just about the chimney. Do you have the expert’s eye to know if your stove, open fire, flue and flue liner are in good order, fluently working together and that everything’s a thumbs-up when it comes to efficient indoor burning?

Yes, you can sweep your own chimney but there’s a LOT more to it than just brushing. That’s why James the Sweep isn’t just a chimney sweep but a flue technician. He will be examining the room where the chimney and fire are located, perceiving air draughts and other factors. He will know at a glance if the wood burning stove is fit for purpose. He will see if the flue liner is unspoilt because, as we all know (or we should) any damage to the liner spells trouble for the chimney itself; to say nothing of the risks of CO poisoning and uncontrolled fires.

James the Sweep is the Master Chimney Sweep for Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Southborough, Sevenoaks, Maidstone, Pembury, Paddock Wood and wider parts of Kent right across to Crowborough. If you want your chimney to be professionally maintained – ask a professional: James. Why not call James the Sweep now and ask for a quotation for chimney sweeping? [Tel: 07587 134589]


Chimney sweeping that’s clean and tidy

‘No mess, no fuss’ – you’ve heard that saying before. But it’s true when it comes to chimney sweeping services provided by James the Sweep to customers in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Southborough and further parts of Kent.

The thought of a sooty chimney sweep knocking on the door can fill some tidy householders with dread. Perish the thought that the sweep’s hands may touch the pristine doors or smart furniture. Or a sooty shoe may trample across the white rug resulting in a massive clean-up op once the chimney flue is swept.

Fortunately James the Sweep is meticulously clean and tidy. Did you know that he used to be a hairdresser? [Many years ago, before James picked up a sweeping brush] How’s that relevant? Because as we all know, hairdressers pride themselves on hygiene, cleanliness and keeping tidy.

James has a professional background in cleanliness. He uses fresh dust sheets on EVERY occasion and new customers can be reassured that he will leave no trace of soot behind. That reassurance comes from existing customers who appreciate the respect that James has for home and hearth. When you employ James to sweep your chimney, you’ll find that he won’t be leaving soot and smudge marks around.

Regular customers testify to the high standards of James the Sweep. You can read the testimonials page to see for yourself. You will note that cleanliness is often mentioned: ‘no mess – no fuss and no dust’ (Maiwenn); ‘very clean’ (Sonya); ‘very clean’ (Pippa); ‘quick, efficient and very little mess’ (Fiona).
Did you know that a standard chimney sweep with James costs just £60? That’s not a lot of money to keep your household safe from the risk of chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. CO poisoning has recently hit the headlines after it was revealed that tragic football star Emiliano Sala was poisoned by carbon monoxide before the aeroplane he was travelling on crashed into the English Channel. We must take the dangers of CO seriously. Regular chimney sweeping is important to protect your family. Book a chimney sweep today with the Master Chimney Sweep for Tunbridge Wells – James the Sweep.

Never underestimate the dangers of carbon monoxide


CARBON monoxide is often mentioned by James the Sweep and that’s because too many people are not taking the dangers of CO seriously. 

It sounds abstract to say that there is a ‘danger in your home’ as thought CO was a bogeyman waiting to pounce. 

Yet the simple facts are that about 60 people in the UK die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

How? There are stories of people turning cars on in garages (effectively poisoning themselves) or lighting barbecues inside tents. Faulty boilers are another cause and every appliance in the home should be checked. 

The chimney is another potential source of carbon monoxide poisoning. If the chimney is unswept, tar deposits build-up on the inside of the flue. These prevent dangerous gas produced from an indoor fire – including carbon monoxide – from escaping safely to the outside atmosphere. 

That results in the carbon monoxide rolling back down the chimney and into the room. What’s more, you won’t even notice! There’s no strange smell and you can’t see the gas.

The first moment you might notice it is if you have a headache or feeling a bit woozy. Symptoms akin to the flu or a cold. These are just mild symptoms and if it progresses there can be vomiting, and all sorts of symptoms as the oxygen is blocked in the body as a result of CO preventing access to organs. 

Death can occur in literally minutes. So we can’t underestimate the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Fortunately you can deter the risks of CO poisoning from your chimney simply by booking a regular sweep with James the Sweep (if you live in Kent or East Sussex).

It only costs £60 for a standard sweep and James will get the job done quickly and effectively. 

Book a chimney sweep today with the Master Sweep for Tunbridge Wells – James the Sweep – and get peace of mind that your chimney poses no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning to you and your loved ones. 

Don’t forget to get your chimney swept before Autumn!

Summer is still here and everyone is trying their best to get a bit of a holiday before the seasons change. 

We all know what it means when the wind picks up and suddenly brown leaves are scuttling down our street. We look out the window and see that the nearby trees have lost their sunny summer aura. There’s something fresh but also vulnerable about the surroundings of nature at this time. 

Autumn is coming! The time of brown leaves and hibernating badgers and splashy puddles (popular with kids) as the skies open for rainfall. It’s a colder time too – and that’s the way it’s going to be apart from the odd sunny day here and there, for the next six months. 

Don’t be dismayed though – colder weather and that depressive hue of grey skies are beaten back by the fierce golden flames of your indoor fire! That’s right, we can still reminisce over the joys of summer by relaxing in front of the cheerful woodburner or open fire. Of course, don’t forget that your chimney needs a proper sweep to make it ready for the colder season ahead.

Please don’t fret if you live in Kent or East Sussex – it’s easy to arrange a chimney sweep with James the Sweep, the master sweep for Tunbridge Wells. 

Just call James and make an appointment at your convenience. Don’t risk chimney fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. Get your chimney swept so that you can enjoy safe fires indoors throughout the Autumn, and into the winter. In fact, regular sweeping ensures you can use your fire all-year round!

‘The fire is the main comfort of the camp, whether in summer or winter, and is about as ample at one season as at another. It is well for cheerfulness as for warmth and dryness.’ (Henry David Thoreau). 

Phone this number: 07587 134 589. You will be able to ask James any questions about your indoor fire and book a chimney sweeping appointment. 

James is a member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps and he has been sweeping chimneys in the wider Tunbridge Wells area for the past 20 years.

Why James loves sweeping in Southborough

SOUTHBOROUGH is a town where there’s always something happening and that’s why James loves his role as master chimney sweep in the local area.

Kentish towns in general have a relaxed atmosphere, no doubt due to the beautiful natural environment in which people live. Southborough has that aspect but an extra plus-point when it comes to dynamic interaction in the community itself. 

Here’s a latest example: a new FM community radio station. This fantastic idea, which will see radio programmes of local interest being broadcast to 100,000 listeners not only in Southborough, but also Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge, will become a reality within the next couple of years. Or so we hope. The transmitter site is likely to be in Southborough itself, between T Wells and Tonbridge. Discussions are still ongoing and it seems Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells could be given the responsibility of running the radio station. We shall see but what a fantastic idea. 

It’s typical too of the interest that Southborough residents have in their local community. It’s an interest that spans back centuries and you can read more about Southborough itself on this page found in the James the Sweep website. 

The town’s coat of arms (pictured) speaks of this self-confidence that residents have in the many positive aspects of living in Southborough. After all, the town is located in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Nothing quite beats spending time browsing shops in the town centre on a Saturday morning before heading out of the town for a picnic lunch at one of the many natural beauty spots which surround Southborough. That’s something James the Sweep has managed to do only a few times. Most of the time it is his customers who are enjoying the surroundings of the town where they love to live and work. James, meanwhile, is kept busy inspecting and sweeping customers’ chimney flues; making them safe to use when the colder weather bites and it’s time to enjoy indoor fires once again!

James the Sweep has been the Master Chimney Sweep for Southborough, and nearby Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge, for the past 20 years. His experience in chimney sweeping is considerable and his advice is often called upon by those with less experience in the trade. Chimney sweeping involves not just sweeping but detailed chimney flue inspections and often a review of the woodburner or open fire. Safety checking forms a big part of James’ role. That’s why Kent Fire & Rescue Service recommends chimney sweeps such as James. You’d much rather see a chimney sweep at your door than a firefighter! Call James now for a professional safety review of your chimney.  Tel: 07587 134589.



Chimney fire in Tunbridge Wells

CHIMNEY fires should never ever happen – but they do and that’s an ongoing tragedy.

Why? Because regular chimney inspections and sweeping prevents the fires happening in the first place. 

If you live in the counties of Kent and East Sussex (Tunbridge Wells to Crowborough) then James the Sweep is ready to both inspect and sweep your chimney for you. He is a highly trained and experienced chimney sweep and flue technician. It makes sense to call James (07587 134589). 

Unfortunately it looks as though property owners at a home in Lamberhurst didn’t call James the Sweep in time. Kent Fire and Rescue Service reports that a chimney fire erupted at a home in Hastings Road on June 8. Two fire engines had to attend and firemen were able to extinguish the blaze but they had to wear breathing apparatus. The fire crews were at the scene at 3.45pm and didn’t leave until 5.32pm once it was all safe.

A man who is presumed to live there was given treatment by paramedics and then taken to hospital. 

That injured man could be you if you don’t book a chimney sweep right now. Don’t delay, don’t take risks, protect your loved ones – call James the Sweep (again… 07587 134589).

And if you’re wondering why chimneys catch fire in the first place, here’s why. Fumes from your woodburner or open fire leave a soot and tar residue on the inside of your flue. If you don’t get your chimney swept with James, this tar substance builds up over time. That can have two devastating consequences: [1] it prevents carbon monoxide (CO) from safely escaping your home to the outside atmosphere (CO – an invisible and odourless gas – will seep back down into your property instead) and [2] this tar residue is flammable and a stray spark can catch it alight, causing your chimney to catch fire. 

There you go… PLEASE do keep safe and book a chimney sweep right now with James the Sweep, the Master Sweep for Tunbridge Wells! (In case you’ve forgotten… 07587 134589).

Brexit… Boris… is your head spinning?

BREXIT… Boris… your head is probably spinning right now with all the things happening in the political scene.

Nobody knows what will happen with the Brexit question: deal or no deal, referendum or no referendum – it’s pretty wild out there in the Westminster circus. We can sense the pandemonium of politics here in the hideaway paradise that is Kent.

And during times like this, it makes perfect sense to hold back the pennies in case prices go up. We just don’t know what will happen with the economy.

If you’re looking at your household budget, getting the chimney swept may seem like less of a priority compared to setting aside money for food, bills, kids’ clothes and the like. 

Yet think about it. Your indoor fire represents a real cost saving in terms of heat. Turning the central heating up and down, on the other hand, results in a hefty bill landing on the doormat from your energy company. 

The advantage of log burning is that you’re really in control. If you follow James the Sweep’s guidance on correct burning techniques (e.g. robust burning and using wood with a moisture content of 20 per cent or less) – then you’re achieving 4 things: [1] you can use as much or as little as you want; [2] you’re helping the environment IF you’re following James’ advice on wood burning; [3] wood burners are a reliable source of heating. No fear of boilers bursting, etc! And [4] the sight of a crackling beautiful fire builds a positive atmosphere in the home for the family to enjoy. Nobody enjoys sitting in front of a radiator…

When times are hard or look uncertain, it’s sensible to fall back on tried and tested – and reliable – sources for the home. Your woodburner is a workhorse which you can always trust. As long as you book regular chimney sweeping to keep it all safe. James charges customers in T Wells, Southborough and nearby areas, just £60 to keep your household safe by providing a professional chimney sweep. BOOK NOW


7 reasons to book a chimney sweep right now!


HERE are 7 reasons why you should book a chimney sweeping appointment with James the Sweep right now!


  • Your chimney needs sweeping: To state the obvious. Your chimney collects a lot of soot, tar and other residue when you use your woodburner or open fire. That ‘yucky stuff’ needs to be swept out of your flue so that you can enjoy your indoor fire
  • You could die if you don’t: Unswept chimneys pose a risk of uncontrolled fires in the chimney itself and also from carbon monoxide which is prevented from leaving to the outside atmosphere. These are killers. A true fact of life. Don’t be a sad statistic. Book a sweep!
  • Your family could die if you don’t: Perhaps you think, ‘I’ll take my chances’. Well, don’t take a chance with your children or better half. People in your household rely on the home to be kept in good order. Regular chimney sweeping protects your family. It’s not a choice, it’s a MUST if you enjoy indoor fires at home.
  • Your fire service wants you to do it: Every fire service across the UK – all of them – recommend regular chimney sweeping to protect your home. It makes sense in every single way when it comes to fire protection.
  • The Government supports indoor fires: Forget the dramatic headlines. Indoor fires are NOT being banned. Defra wants people to enjoy indoor fires at home in the form of modern woodburners, using clean fuel and correct lighting procedures. The Government has also said regular chimney sweeping is vital to deter air pollution.
  • It keeps your property in good order: Chimney sweeping is on the definite to-do list alongside other tasks around the home. Unlike cleaning the bathroom, the chore of sweeping your flue is challenging if you don’t have the right experience and tools for the job. James the Sweep is vastly experienced and he has an arsenal of sweeping weaponry to get rid of that soot. That’s why he’s widely known as the Master Sweep for Tunbridge Wells.
  • James is THE Master Sweep: No, not repetition from point 6. There are lots of cowboys out there pretending to know how to do a good job. James is an expert in all matters related to your chimney. His advice is often sought from others in the industry and he supports younger sweeps in the trade. If you live in Kent (T Wells, Tonbridge, Southborough, etc) or East Sussex (Crowborough) and need your chimney swept – James is the obvious sweep to contact. He’s always happy to help!



BBQ tips from your local sweep

HOT weather equals barbie time. And that doesn’t mean get your dollies out of the cupboard to play with them – we’re talking, of course, about hot, sizzling delicious barbecues.

Before you get the tongs out and pile-up the fridge with stacks of burgers, bangers, steaks and bananas (an acquired taste but nothing beats the sweetness of a chargrilled banana) – put in some time for prep work. 

Please take care to lessen the risks with your bbq. Don’t let there be any potential fire or carbon monoxide risk. How? Here are some pointers which James the Sweep provides to customers when he is sweeping chimneys in T Wells and throughout Kent (yes, that’s right, sweeping chimneys in the summer – chimneys should never be neglected and cleaned properly in time for the colder weather).

Firstly, check the barbecue is in a good condition ready for sizzling meat. Put it on a flatter site which isn’t near anything flammable. Don’t let youngsters or pets near and there should be no games played nearby when you’re cooking. Always stand by the barbecue and don’t get distracted. Have a bucket of water or sand near you in case of an emergency. After the bbq, don’t move it until everything has cooled down. That includes any hot ashes – only discard once the ash is cool. 

If you’re using charcoal as fuel, cover the base area to a two-inch depth and use firelighters, never petrol to encourage the flames. If your bbq is gas-based then only change the cylinder outside and ensure the tap is off before changing it. The gas cylinder must only be turned off at the controls so that any leftover gas is used. If you’re worried about whether there’s a leak, dab some soapy water on the joints and check for bubbles. 

If a fire is out-of-control, evacuate everyone from the site and call 999. Barbecues are wonderful but must be handled carefully so that everyone has a safe, fun time on sunny occasions with family and friends.

Brexit blues – what can you afford?

‘AFFORDABLE’ – we all love that word. Everyone likes a good bargain? Why pay more when you can pay less, etc?

It’s particularly important in the current financial climate where everyone’s a tad nervous about Brexit. We don’t know what will happen and so it makes sense to keep a tighter control of the purse strings.

Heating can be one of those frustrating costs, which are still a MUST in your household. Especially if you have a family – we simply need to keep the house warm so that everyone is happy and healthy.

And it’s a bit of a wrestling match trying to find a reliable but affordable supplier for heating. You’ll be only too aware of money comparison websites giving updates – almost weekly – on whom is now offering the best deal.

Why not turn to a traditional alternative? Wood burning fires have been the mainstay of warmth (and cooking food!) since time began. Indoor fires are reliable, long lasting and always affordable.

How are they affordable? Because if you learn proper lighting techniques (ask James) you can make the fuel last longer. It’s possible to source minimum-cost wood and don’t forget the woodburners can be hooked-up to central heating systems. Again, ask James about any of this.

The installation of a proper woodburner is indeed a cost (from 2022 it needs to meet the new EU Ecodesign regulations unless Brexit changes that). But then apart from the fuel, the only other cost is sweeping the chimney.

Remember that your chimney needs regular sweeping to deter risks of chimney fires and deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

GOOD NEWS – James the Sweep offers very affordable chimney sweeping to residents across the wider Kent & East Sussex areas – T Wells, Tonbridge, Southborough, Sevenoaks, Crowborough, Maidstone, Pembury, Paddock Wood and beyond.

Not only that – his services are reliable. There’s always someone ‘cheaper’. But James offers reasonable rates PLUS 100 per cent sheer professionalism. He has been sweeping chimneys for 20 years, passed all relevant qualifications and he’s known as the area’s top rated master chimney sweep.

Any questions? No problem – call James now on 07587 134589.

5 interesting facts about James – your chimney sweep!

James the Sweep – the Master Chimney Sweep for Tunbridge Wells and nearby areas such as Tonbridge and Southborough. You’ve heard about him often enough and he is a well-known friendly face for many people across towns and villages in the county of Kent (and nearby East Sussex, for that matter).

James has been sweeping chimneys for Kentish homes and local business premises for more than 20 years. He’s had a very colourful life too and below you will find 5 very interesting facts that you didn’t know about James Hughes aka James the Sweep.

Prison Officer: James previously worked – many, many years ago – as a prisoner officer. He spent time inside (as an officer, not a prisoner!) HMP Rochester as well as HMP Blantyre House near Goudhurst, which has closed for works. James especially enjoyed the football matches between officers and jailbirds, which were very noisy and fun affairs!

Scuba Diver: James is a qualified scuba diver and he has particularly spent a lot of time diving on the island of Malta. He was also once called upon by police to help search the River Thames for a missing person!

Hairdresser: If you are wondering why James is so skillful with a chimney brush it may be because he once worked as a hairdresser. He gained a City & Guilds qualification at the London College of Fashion in Oxford Street and then worked for various salons in the area of Tunbridge Wells.  

Mugged by police: An interesting but sad fact. James was once mugged by police at gunpoint in Ukraine. It happened in 2014 when James visited Chernobyl. He was pulled into an alleyway, had a gun held against him and the corrupt policemen stole a new iphone, £1,000 sterling and 200 Hryvnia (the Ukrainian currency).

Tsunami: James was once helping to protect a sheikh in Dubai as part of security work. The year was 2004 – when the famous Tsunami caused mayhem in Thailand. James was asked to search the island of Ko Phi Phi Le (where ‘The Beach’ with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed). His task was to find a secretary working for Pirelli Tyres, who had tragically gone missing. For three weeks, James and colleagues painstakingly looked and eventually found the luggage of the missing lady and her husband – but that was all.  James found the experience in Thailand extremely gruelling and poignant.


What to do if a bird’s nest is in your chimney

NO DOUBT you will be out-and-about enjoying the sunshine now that the summer months are here.

That’s also when you start notice things needing to be fixed in the garden or to the outside of your house: cutting the hedge, weeding out the flower beds, repointing the cement in the wall, putting tiles back in place….and what about that chimney?

If you notice any issues with your chimney such as damaged brickwork or the chimney pot or cowl looks odd – just ask James the Sweep for an opinion.

Yet there’s another issue which tends to come along this time of year and it does require an expert hand to deal with the problem: a bird’s nest in your chimney. At the top, to be precise.

Birds tend to like to feather their nest at the top of chimneys, especially jackdaws. But the problem is that this can damage your building structure. The last thing you want is bits of brickwork tumbling down the flue and into the fireplace.

And if you have a cowl or pot fitted, you won’t want a bird to damage it because that runs the risk of letting damp getting into your building.

What can you do then? Simply ask James the Sweep to deal with the problem.

There are special laws surrounding the removal of birds’ nests, which a qualified and experienced master sweep – such as James – is informed about. The removal of the nest itself also requires a head for heights and a delicate hand so that no damage will be caused. The chimney will also need to be reviewed and swept after the removal of any debris.

In summary, it’s a job for a true professional! Take the worry out of your day if you notice a bird’s nest at the top of your chimney. Phone 07587 134589 for a quotation. Standard charges for removing a bird’s nest cost only £100 for the first hour and then £60 per hour thereafter if the work is complex. Please also note that the bird’s nest is to be disposed by the customer.

Maidstone Zoo: a recap on history

MAIDSTONE and its surrounding area is rich in history and if there’s a place proving the fact – it has to be Cobtree Manor Park, which is the site of the former Maidstone Zoo, the largest private zoo of its time.

The land near Aylesford was used for farming in the 17th and 18th centuries and it was eventually bought by Hugh William Tyrwhitt-Drake who bought the main house (containing some wonderful chimneys!) and 300 acres of land. The site was considerable in size and included 15 cottages and a riverside wharf amongst other features. The house was given the name ‘Cobtree Manor House’ and it was from here that Sir Garrard, son of Hugh William (who died in 1908) began to formulate his dream of creating a zoo in the heart of Kent.

Sir Garrard [pictured above with a bear] was the mayor of Maidstone 12 times and the High Sheriff of Kent from 1956 to 1957. He was a well-known public figure not just in the town of Maidstone but across the county.

He opened the zoo to the public in 1934 and it soon became popular not only with the public but celebrities of the day: Gracie Fields, Jessie Matthews – even the Queen when she was a princess. Hundreds, if not thousands over the years, enjoyed the array of creatures that included lions, elephants, bears, wolves, zebra. In fact, there were 36 types of animal recorded at the site in 1939.

The zoo survived the war years and flourished with an impressive 120 paddocks and cages recorded in 1949. Facilities included a pets corner for kids, a miniature railway, and pony and elephant rides. The Elephant House is all that remains from the original zoo, which closed in 1959 due to costs and Sir Garrard’s health (he died in 1964). The animals were taken to other zoos.

However, Cobham Manor Park was rebranded as an exciting visitor attraction after the manor park was created in the period of the 1970s, thanks to the hard work of Cobtree Manor Trust and partners. An impressive 600 tree and shrub species were planted, creating a beautiful arboretum and the site today also boasts fantastic play areas for youngsters. Find out more here:  Cobham Manor Park.

If you live in the Maidstone area – book an appointment with the town’s Master Chimney Sweep: James the Sweep!

The dinosaur found near Southborough – some facts

Southborough is the sort of place where there’s always something interesting happening and that’s been a fact about the town for many years.

James the Sweep has been sweeping chimneys in Southborough for 20 years – and he’s firmly  established as the town’s master sweep. If residents need a chimney swept, it’s always James who is called because he is reliable, professional and affordable. He’s known as the ‘Southborough chimney sweep’ and it’s as simple as that.

And over the years James has picked up some interesting facts about the town, which are known by the locals but could raise an eyebrow or two, if you’ve a visitor.

For example – the dinosaur. Most people know about the iguanodon, which was splashing around in High Brooms some 135 million years ago (date depending on how accurate the carbon dating was/is). And splashing about is correct because High Brooms was a marshy area back then. The High Brooms Society has written an excellent account of the geology at the time when the dinosaur was alive.

Anyway… here’s the interesting fact known by residents and probably unknown by visitors to Southborough.

The dinosaur, whose bones are under the care of Tunbridge Wells museum, was discovered in the High Brooms brickworks pits in 1933. What some people don’t know is that the big beast’s footprints were also found in the Wadhurst clay, and moulds were created by brainy archeologists, which are also housed by the museum.

An article in the Kent & Sussex Courier [see image above], dated Friday 27 October 1933, gave the specific details of the discovery of the bones and also mentions the foot prints.

The Natural History Museum calls the Iguanodon ‘one of the most successful dinosaurs’ and species of the dinosaur have been ‘found in many parts of the world’.

The museum notes: “Iguanodon could probably walk on all fours or on two legs. It had a large thumb spike, probably to fend off predators. Muscle attachment areas inside its head suggest that it may have had a long tongue.”

Digging up our past is a fascinating subject and that includes not just dinosaurs but human society. Chimney sweeping has been a major part of that for hundreds of years and especially since Victorian times.

Chimney sweeps are needed so that households can use indoor fires safely without any risk of chimney fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.

How to use your wood burning stove

CUSTOMERS will often ask James the Sweep for sound advice about how to get the best use out of the wood burning stove.

It’s a typical question that James encounters whenever he is sweeping chimneys in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Southborough, Maidstone and the like.

If you would like some simple ABC pointers, do take time to read the info below. Remember too the basic rule that burning wood with a moisture content of 20 per cent or less (test it to see) and at a higher temperature will ensure you maximise the use of your fuel, save you money and also have a better effect on the environment.

Volatile fuel gases produced by fire need a safe passage out of the chimney, which is an issue if you don’t have the chimney swept because there will be a dangerous build-up of soot and other residue. These volatile vapours are more likely to form into sticky tar in the flue if the fire is not hot enough.

That’s a situation which can be avoided. Firstly though, make sure that your woodburner is a good condition (if you’re not sure, call back your installer and ask for a review) and that the chimney has been given a thumbs-up by James the Sweep – Master Sweep for towns and villages throughout Kent.

To light a fire, get some small burning material such as firelighters or kindling. Make sure the air controls are opened to get the heat level increased as quickly as possible. Gently put some larger logs on the flames as it burns and then shut the stove door when the fire is looking strong.

Don’t let the temperature of the stove go down! Keep laying big logs of wood and shut one of the air controls to encourage the air to the flames an open the stove door slightly if needed. A flue pipe thermometer is pretty handy to let you know if the appliance has hit the correct temperature.

The air flow can be decreased slowly using the secondary control but always ensure the flames are looking cheerful. You don’t want to waste fuel by turning down the controls before the fire is established. And never slumber a fire overnight – it’s a waste of time, a waste of heat, a waste of money (uses fuel and causes soot) and a waste of air.

If you notice smoke at the top of the chimney after a quarter of an hour, make sure the controls are at the correct setting. If so, open the controls again until there’s no smoke at the top.

If you’re not sure how to use your woodburner – just ask James the Sweep when he next visits to sweep your chimney.

You can contact James to book a chimney sweep on 07587 134 589.

For further tips on using your wood burning stove, have a look at the BurnRight website.

Tunbridge Wells is a properly ‘Royal’ place!

IT HAPPENS often that James the Sweep gets called ‘Sir’ when he pops into his favourite newsagent in Royal Tunbridge Wells to buy his favourite chocolate bar (milk choc with a caramel centre, in case you’re wondering).

Nothing unusual about that, on the face of it. But it makes James twirl his brush for two very good reasons: [1] Everyone is polite in T Wells and that’s wonderful and [2] T Wells is so closely associated with Royalty… Lords… Ladies… ‘Sirs’… that James is never sure if the newsagent believes the town’s master sweep is, in fact, one of the landed gentry.

James is used to sweeping chimneys in stately homes and castles all over the county of Kent, alongside terraced, bungalow, semi detached and detached homes. That’s a simple fact – Hever Castle, the Knole estate, for example. Yet the relationship between royalty and Tunbridge Wells continues to fascinate him. For a start, Royal T Wells has a unique standing with the Royal prefix. Not many towns in Britain can claim to be royal.

Yet the ‘royal’ part wasn’t added by the townsfolk – they’re much too humble for that. It was King Edward VII who decided that Tunbridge Wells deserved wider recognition. He also wanted to honour his late mother, Queen Victoria who loved the place and would often visit to enjoy the bathing waters and other leisurely pursuits. That’s why the king gave T Wells the new name of ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells’. More than a hundred years later, the title still stands and it is completely relevant for the settlement pioneering the highest living standards, which hits the right notes when it comes to balancing the positives in hearth and home, work and education, hospitality and service.

Of course, the prefix is not the only royal connection with T Wells. Apart from the fact that our present Queen’s favourite chocs were made in the town (probably not the same caramel type which James the Sweep likes to chomp) – the connections go much further back in history.

The popularity of the Chalybeate Spring in 1606 invited interest from the aristocracy and saw the town boom in popularity as the ‘Must Visit’ location for top-end holiday breaks.

Fashionable society brought with it the development in T Wells of facilities for balls and dances, games and coffee houses, theatre and the like. To say nothing of the accommodation such as lodging houses in the northern tip of the Pantiles, provided by Margaret, widow of the Viscount Purbeck in the 1680s.

Royal Tunbridge Wells is definitely ‘Royal’ – a special place. James the Sweep is privileged to be the town’s master chimney sweep, making sure residents are free to enjoy indoor fires without the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or chimney fires.

Is your woodburner polluting?

WOODBURNERS have been given a very bad press in the media since Defra’s Clean Air Strategy was published in January.

It’s become a misleading notion that wood stoves will be banned by the Government in the future. That is NOT true. Defra is certainly concerned about air pollution but the Government has been so – so – clear that householders will still be allowed to have woodburners.

The Government believes that 38% of harmful particulate matter comes from ‘burning wood and coal in open fires and stoves’. However, following a consultation with experts, including chimney sweep trade associations, it was discovered that the situation is more complex. It’s the way that indoor fires are used, which affects the air quality.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey has said: “Everyone has a role to play in improving the air we breathe, and reducing pollution from burning at home is a key area where we can all take action.

“While we will never be able to eliminate all particulate matter, by switching to cleaner fuels, householders can reduce the amount of harmful pollution to which they unwittingly expose themselves, their families and the environment, while still enjoying the warmth and pleasure of a fire.”

Steps to be taken include banning the sale of the most polluting fuels, such as coal; and only allowing the cleanest stoves to be for sale by 2022. You will still be free to use your woodburner but air quality will be improved if you only burn wood with moisture content of 20 per cent or less, and also burn at a high heat. Look at the BurnRight website ( for more tips.

In summary, we can all still enjoy woodburners but pay them more care and attention. That’s a good thing because it means we will use the appliance more efficiently. That’s better for the pocket and better for the environment! If you’re not already doing so, and you live in Kent, you can start that efficiency drive now. First thing to do – book a chimney risk assessment and chimney sweep with James the Sweep. James covers the wider region from Tunbridge Wells, to Southborough, to Tonbridge, to Maidstone, to Pembury and Paddock Wood, and even as far as Crowborough. Give James a call right now and receive free, impartial advice about your indoor fire. Phone James on 07587 134589 or email: