Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Mary Portas and High Street parking

We're glad that Mary Portas raised the issue of High Street parking in her analysis of the problems of the British High Street.  Here in Lee High Road, it has become increasingly difficult for our customers to park close to our shop.  The local streets are now almost exclusively residents' parking.  There are one or two parking bays close to Lee High Road, but the situation is very confusing - on one side of the shop you can park for an hour, but on the other side for only half an hour.

Lewisham Council has said the half hour restriction gives our customers plenty of time - but they've obviously never bought a fireplace from a specialist retailer like Westcombes.  Many of our customers like to spend far longer than that discussing their options, looking at all the fireplaces and stoves that we have and considering the relative pros and cons.

Lewisham Council clearly doesn't have much time for the traditional service and expertise that a shop like ours can offer - but fortunately our customers put up with the confusing parking arrangements because it's the service and expertise that they particularly like about Westcombes.

Chimney lining and sweeps

People often ask if they still need to bother to have their chimney swept if they've had it lined, and the answer is a very definite YES!

Soot can still build up inside a lined chimney and you should have it swept at least once a year.  The chimney sweeps may use slightly different equipment and methods to sweep chimneys, but we always recommend making sure that you use a properly qualified sweep.

At Westcombes, we can recommend local qualified sweeps (who are members of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps) in London, or alternatively you can contact the National Association of Chimney Sweeps who have qualified sweeps across the country.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Christmas Windows

Well, it's not quite Oxford Street, but we have made an attempt to be seasonal and Freddy and Felix, our window cats, are now surrounded by presents and tinsel.  We even have a miniature tree in the main window, and some stockings on the mantelpiece so we're hoping Father Christmas doesn't forget to drop in at 250-252 Lee High Road this year!

It feels like winter...

After a glorious September and a mild autumn, it finally feels as if winter is here.  We're so pleased we've got a Defra-approved woodburner going in the shop to keep us warm, and we're using our fabulous kiln-dried logs from Certainly Wood  - which are suddenly selling like hot cakes! We've also got the luxury of a working gas and an electric fire in our other showrooms which means you can check out a range of options to see which you might prefer in your own home.  So if you're feeling chilly, head to Westcombes!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Buying from a reputable dealer

We've had a number of calls this week from people who've bought fires and stoves online and who are now having problems. Some are having difficulty getting fires or stoves to work properly, others have realised that they would have bought a different stove or fire if they'd had good advice beforehand - and at this time of year, we're also being inundated with calls from people who can't find anyone to fit their fires or stoves - our  fitters are booked up weeks in advance in the run up to Christmas, and we give our own customers priority so that's not something we're always able to help with.

What looks like a cheap online bargain is cheap because you aren't getting the back up and advice that a reputable dealer can offer.  We're seeing more and more people who have come to realise that what looked like a great deal can turn out to be anything but.  We try to match online prices wherever we can, but we also aim to offer excellent customer service, advice and back up - and that's not something you can get with the click of a mouse.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Greeks opt for woodburning stoves to beat soaring fuel prices

I've just been reading a fascinating article about the rise in popularity of woodburning stoves in Greece as a result of the economic crisis there.  Apparently, rising heating costs and a levy on electricity bills have led many families to turn to woodburning stoves instead of their normal central heating - and they're finding it's not only cheaper with wood costing about a quarter of the equivalent in heating oil, but also a lot warmer, too.  

Here, we're along way from the kind of huge demand that they're seeing in Greece but we have noticed that more and more people are interested in stoves, many of them with fuel bills in mind. Even in London, you can have a woodburner as the latest Defra-approved models are suitable for use in smoke free zones.  At Westcombes, we have one showroom dedicated to stoves with more than fifty different models on display and can offer advice on the right sort of stove for your home as well as arranging for fitting.  

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Carbon monoxide detectors

When you're buying a stove or fire, you should always install a carbon monoxide detector.  It's a legal requirement now to have a detector when you fit a new or replacement fire or stove, and although problems are rare, they are potentially very dangerous.  Carbon monoxide poisoning  can occur if a chimney is blocked or if there are issues with the fitting of a fire or stove.

I'm particularly concerned about this at the moment as my own father-in-law discovered that his gas cooker was leaking carbon monoxide and it had to be disconnected and scrapped immediately.  He was fortunate as he'd started to feel unwell and the cooker was checked just in time. Carbon monoxide is odourless and tasteless and doesn't irritate in any way, so it can only be identified by having a carbon monoxide detector.  At just £22.50, they're a small price for a safe home.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The busy season...

It's been very very busy in the shop over the last few weeks - the kind of busy where every time you put the phone down, it rings again. We just wanted to take the opportunity to thank all our customers for their patience and to reassure you that we do always call everyone back - it just takes a little longer than we might like during this busy time. It is important to us that all our customers benefit from our full care and attention - which unfortunately does mean that when there are lots of you all wanting that at the same time, a little waiting is sometimes necessary but we hope that you will feel that the level of service we offer makes it well worth the wait.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Don't leave it too late...

We've had some wonderful weather over the last month, but it seems that finally the autumn chill has arrived - and people are starting to think about fireplaces and stoves again.  We've got the stove burning in the shop today, and it's a great hit with everyone who comes in and sees how lovely and warming a stove can be.  We always find that with the first colder weather, we start to get busier - and the fitters start to get longer waiting times.

There's still plenty of time to get your stove or fire in time for Christmas, but please don't leave it too late.  We can order stock in right up until the last minute, but you want your fire or stove fitted and working - and our fireplace fitters won't be able to fit without at least a few weeks notice.

Do come and visit us at Westcombes sooner rather than later if you're thinking about a fire or stove - and then we can make sure that you're ready for a very cosy winter!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The latest additions to the Westcombes family...

We promised to let you know when the new arrivals for our window display were here - and we're delighted to present Freddy and Felix!  They joined us last week and are living very happily in Westcombes window, lying contentedly next to the stove.  We've already noticed lots of people stopping to peer at them to check whether they're real (and have had some banging on the window trying to wake them up which isn't so good!).

Seasonal Sunday opening

Westcombes is now open on Sundays!

As this is our busiest time of year, we're extending our opening hours for the autumn through until December. It's not too late to get that fire or stove for Christmas, and you'll find us here between 12 and 4 every Sunday as well as our normal opening hours of 10am to 6pm Monday through to Saturday.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Our new window display

We've just installed a new window display to show some of our lovely stoves - it doesn't look quite as much like an authentic sitting room as the image above, but you get the idea...

We've got more than fifty different styles of stove in stock in our showroom downstairs at Westcombes, but we found that many people coming into the shop weren't even aware that we sold stoves.  So, we hope our new display will make it clear. We'll post a picture later, but we're just waiting for the latest addition to our shop window and once he's arrived, we'll let you take a peek!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Autumn is officially here...

Did you know that our seasons officially begin on the 21st of the relevant month, so today is the official start of autumn?  It's always our busiest time of the year and on a grey, wet day like today, the idea of a blazing fire is very appealing!

Customers often ask if you can have an open fire in London, and it's fine as long as you burn the right sort of coal for use in a smokeless zone.  Once you've got the knack of it, lighting a fire doesn't take long and it's not nearly as messy as people imagine either.  One option many are now considering is a stove - the latest Defra-approved models allow you to burn logs in inner city areas, and there are a wide variety of styles from the traditional to sleek ultra-modern designs. 

We have more than fifty stoves on show at Westcombes - and we even stock fabulous kiln-dried logs to burn in them - so do come and pay us a visit.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Our restoration service

You may not be aware that at Westcombes we not only offer one of London's widest selections of fireplaces and stoves, we can also restore old fires.  If you've got an old cast iron or marble fireplace in your house that could do with some care and attention, why not get in touch ?

We've been restoring fires for more than twenty years, and our expert restoration team carry out work in situ or in our yard at the shop.  This Edwardian art nouveau fire needed a lot of work, but now looks really beautiful.  If you want to return your fires to their former glory - give us a call on 0208 852 6204

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Gas fires - leave it to an expert...

 I was reading an interesting article the other day about the different ways that people are saving money during the recession, and one suggestion was that more and more people are carrying out their own DIY to save money,  Apparently, nearly a third of people have said they'd fit a gas appliance themselves to cut costs.


We've found that sometimes people buying fires online aren't aware of the potential risks, but it's vital to get an expert who is registered with Gas Safe to fit any gas appliances.  Even if you fancy yourself as a bit of a dab hand at DIY and think you know what you're doing, when it comes to gas it's always better to be safe and sure and to leave the job to a professional. We work with Gas Safe and Hetas registered fireplace fitters to ensure we have the right people for the job when it comes to fitting Westcombes fires and stoves.

If you want any advice, see our website 

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The strange tale of the boy who got stuck in a chimney....

We know the Victorians used to send children up chimneys. but we've just come across an unusual story from the States about a child who had to be rescued from inside a chimney by firefighters. Apparently the eight-year-old boy was stuck in the chimney for four hours after trying to use it as a way into the house.  He'd turned up there earlier and had played with the grandchildren of the couple who owned the house and been given a drink and snack.  He'd been sent home but claimed he'd come back because he was thirsty and had tried to get into the house through the chimney as the owners were out.  When they returned, they kept thinking they could hear a child's voice and finally tracked it down to the chimney - from where the boy was rescued by firefighters!

It's a rare tale and you can read more about it here - but it does show quite how skilled and agile those Victorian chimney children must have been!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Stove selection....

We're known for our huge range of antique, reproduction and modern fireplaces at Westcombes, but you may not realise that we now have a vast selection of stoves at our Lee High Road showroom.  As stoves have become more popular, we've been expanding our specialist stove selection and can now offer a great choice of different brands of wood burning, multi-fuel, electric and gas stoves.

We now stock stoves from Aga, Franco Belge, Esse, Carron, Capital Fires Stoves, Gallery Stoves, Burley, Broseley, Dovre, Eco Warm, Stovax and Gazco, Bohemia and Pevex, the range from West Fires and the Arada stoves including Aarrow and Villager.  We have one of our showrooms dedicated entirely to our stove range and we can offer help and advice on the most suitable stove for your home - so do come and pay us a visit.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Which local magazines do you read?

We're just sorting out our advertising for the autumn, and we'd be really interested in any feedback from S/E Londoners about which local magazines you get and whether you read them. If you get lots arriving free through your door, do you have a favourite?  Do you prefer one to any others?  Do you look at the ads, or do you just read some of the features?  We'd love to know what you think - you can reply to our blog, email us through our website or even talk to us on twitter - we're @westcombefires  

Don't forget - we cover the whole of South-East London and northern areas of Kent, so we're interested in your thoughts if you're anywhere in our region!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

We're still open...

I know some of our customers were worried after reports that Lee High Road had been badly affected by the rioting in London earlier this week.  Sadly, our local garage and some of the shops in Lee High Road were looted or had their windows broken, and the garage is still closed now.  We can reassure you that none of the shops in our little row were affected (perhaps for once we should be grateful that most of our fires are so heavy!),  but thank you to everyone who has been in touch to express concern. 

Although many local shops in Lee, Lewisham and Greenwich shut early yesterday, we decided to stay open and we're here from 10 to 6 throughout the week from Monday to Saturday - you can find details of how to reach us here

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Why picking up logs may not be such a good idea...

At Westcombes, we’ve seen a huge increase in the popularity of wood-burning stoves in recent years, especially now that there’s a wider selection of fires approved by Defra to burn wood in London’s smokeless zone.

It’s not just that the stoves look attractive; with hugely increased bills for gas, electricity and oil, a wood-burning stove can make economic sense too. Now apparently in some parts of the countryside this has led to a resulting increase in timber thefts which is in turn affecting the revenue of woodland charities who rely on timber sales for income. Conservationists say the thieves are often putting their own safety at risk too as they don’t know how to fell trees properly or use the right safety equipment. They also suggest that sometimes people don’t realise that taking logs from wood stacks in forests or at roadsides is an offence.

Of course, the other point to bear in mind about these stolen logs is that they are freshly cut and usually very damp.  In order to burn successfully, logs need to be seasoned, or dried.  If you need supplies of logs, at Westcombes we stock kiln dried logs which are ideal for all wood-burning stoves.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Our new stock of logs...

We're very excited to have just taken our first delivery of kiln-dried logs from a company called Certainly Wood. One reason many people have problems lighting fires is down to the logs they are using.  If you pick up a bag of logs from your local garage, they tend not to be properly seasoned - which means they haven't been dried out for long enough and are still retaining lots of moisture. They're not always stored properly either and are left outside in all weathers. This makes it harder to light a fire, it produces lots of smoke and it's harder to keep the fire going.

Our new stock of kiln dried logs have an average moisture content of just 20% and you can use them in all wood burning appliances - in London, of course, that means Defra-approved stoves.  Dry logs don't produce as much smoke which means they give a very clean burn with maximum heat output. 

The company we're sourcing our logs from dry them first before finishing them off in wood fired kilns. All the wood they use is hardwood, which is sourced from sustainable British woodland.  You can find them at Westcombes  showroom in Lee High Road from today - come and stock up in good time for the autumn!


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

ITV 60 Minute Makeover

We've just provided a fire for ITV's 60 Minute Makeover - television fame for Westcombes once again!  We featured on the BBC's 'Put your money where your mouth is' a few years ago, when Max was featured buying a fireplace from TV's Mark Franks as part of a bid to raise money for charity.

As a well-established firm, we're often contacted for television and magazine items, and are always pleased to oblige where we can.  In the meantime, we'll keep you posted to let you know when you can see our lovely fire on your TV screens!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Wood burning stoves in cities

Wood burning stoves are becoming increasingly popular with our customers, but many people assume they can't have a wood burner if they live in the city.

This dates back to the Clean Air Act which regulates smoke emissions in built-up areas and created zones where only smokeless fuels could be burnt.

However, now the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (known as DEFRA) has started a scheme to approve certain wood burning stoves which have an advanced system of eco-engineering. These stoves are very environmentally friendly, as wood is a renewable and sustainable energy source.

What's more, many of these stoves look fabulous and can provide a great focal point for any home.  We stock a huge range of stoves, including many DEFRA-approved wood burners, at Westcombes -  so do come and have a browse!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Hearth and Home Exhibition

We spent the day on Tuesday at the annual Hearth and Home Exhibition in Harrogate - a long way to go for a day from London, but a fascinating opportunity to find out more about all the latest ranges of stoves and fires coming to the market.

We're intending to increase our range of stoves for the busy autumn season to ensure that we can offer you a wide choice of all the best products on the market, and we saw a number of interesting new lines that we are considering bringing in to our showrooms.

It was also a great opportunity to catch up with lots of our existing suppliers and to talk about how they are planning to improve and extend their ranges.

So, all in all we're looking forward to an exciting autumn ahead!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

It's the ideal time to buy a fireplace....

As the weather gets warmer, people tend to start thinking about summer holidays rather than evenings around the fire, but in fact this is the perfect time of year to start looking for a new fireplace or stove.  As soon as the evenings start drawing in and there's a chill in the air, fireplace retailers and fitters start to get busier and so there are longer waits for deliveries and fittings. 

If you start looking for your fire or stove now, you'll have plenty of time to deliberate before you make a decision and you'll be able to have it ordered, delivered and fitted in time for those first crisp autumn days.  When everyone else suddenly thinks they must get round to sourcing that fireplace, you'll already be spending your evenings settled in front of a cosy fire.

Come and visit our showrooms at 250-252 Lee High Road in Lewisham, South-East London or take a look at our website to see some of our wide range of stoves and fireplaces -

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Our fireplace buying guide

Welcome to the Westcombes BUYING GUIDE the essential fireplace-buyers check-list and safety guide.
We will look at the measurements needed to install a fireplace, the ventilation, your chimney and it's condition, fuel, the period of your property and style of fireplace.
What period is your property?
Period fireplaces look best matched to the historical period of your home, whereas more modern designs may suit a newer house.
Late Georgian/
Edwardian &
Art Nouveau
Art Deco
Take a look at the selection above to get an idea of the style of the period. Please note that the above examples are samples from our range.
Your Chimney and Measurements
Your chimney and it's condition is important for saftey and efficiency of your fire. Is your chimney pot still there? Or is it capped?
We recommend that your chimney is swept by a registered chimney sweep. This will tell you what condition your flue is in and whether it is safe to use. Feel free to contact us for further advice.

Fuel Types and Fitting
An authentic open fire, with the efficiency and cleanliness of controlable gas. Our range conforms to BS EN ISO 9002 safety standards, all models have an automatic shut-down mechanism should oxygen levels fall to a predetermined level. Suitable fireguards are also recommended where infants, elderly, and the infirm are concerned - see our Classic Range for more details - and print our guide for reference.
The last thing to do is have your fireplace installed. We have fully qualified Gas Safe Register (formally Corgi) and Hetas Registered fitters to take care of installations.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The importance of chimney sweeping

It's something people often forget, but you should have your chimneys swept on a regular basis.  Whatever type of fuel you burn, deposits can build up inside the chimney and you should have it cleared by a sweep at least once a year.  When soot and ash collects inside the chimney, it restricts the flow of air and can make the fire less efficient. The deposits can even catch fire, causing a potentially hazardous chimney fire.  Chimney pots are popular places for birds to build their nests and a sweep will also clear these out, along with any other debris that has gathered.

In Victorian times, it was small boys who climbed up chimneys to clear them but today it's a highly professional job which is usually done with no mess at all. Sweeps don't only clean, but may also be able to spot any other problems with the chimney, too.  What's more, chimney sweeps are meant to bring good luck, which is why they were traditionally paid to turn up at weddings, so you can have a clean chimney and some good fortune thrown in!

We can recommend sweeps at Westcombes as well as advising on the right sort of fire and fuel for your home - visit our website at for more information.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Welcome to Westcombes

Welcome to the Westcombes blog.  We're one of London's largest suppliers of fireplaces and stoves and we pride ourselves on helping our customers right through from inspiration to installation.  We're based at 250-252 Lee High Road in Lewisham, South East London and we're open Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm.  Our friendly team are always at hand in the shop, and we'll be giving lots of useful tips, advice and information about all things fireplace-related on this, our new blog!