Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The most realistic electric stove yet...

We've just put an exciting new electric stove on display in the showroom which uses the latest technology to produce a fascinating illusion of a real fire.  Using a 3-dimensional effect it creates a fine water mist which is illuminated to look like flames and smoke.  When this is combined with glowing logs and a shimmering ash bed, the effect is really unlike any electric fire you will have seen before.

Come down to Westcombes to take a look at our new Dimplex Opti-Myst stove in action, or have a look at the effect here.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

How to light a fire - or stove...

We're posted about how to light a fire or stove before, but now it's getting chilly we've had a few people asking about this recently - the art of fire-lighting is no longer something we're taught as we're growing up!

First, you need to prepare your stove or fireplace. Check that the damper is open, and that the air vents on your stove are all open,

Then, lay your kindling.  We like to use either our flamers firelighters - or some scrunched newspaper - which we place inside across the base.  Then, make a pyramid of kindling on top.

Light the paper or flamers, and once the kindling begins to burn you can layer some slightly larger pieces of wood, and as soon as the fire is established, put on your coal or logs.

You will need to tend to the fire or stove to top up the fuel as necessary.  You should always make sure that you have a smoke alarm in the same room and don't ever leave the fire unattended.

Finally, it's worth remembering that using the right fuel is key to lighting a fire successfully.  All too often, we've had customers reporting problems when they've been using damp unseasoned wood - it makes it really difficult to light a fire, and what's more it will fill your chimney with soot and tar.  The kiln-dried logs we sell here at Westcombes are ideal - and that's why people who've bought them tend to keep coming back for more.  Once you've used dried logs, you'll know why it makes such a difference!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Are you facing rising household fuel bills?

 With energy prices rising, it has never been a better time to think about getting a stove. 

Here at Westcombes, we have a wide range of Defra-approved woodburners which can be used in London's smoke-free zone to help you cut back on gas and electricity bills.  When the weather's just a little chilly, a stove can give your sitting room a cosy glow without the need to put on the heating throughout the house.

Just last week the energy regulator Ofgem warned that Britain faces power shortages by 2015 and it is anticipated that shortages could lead to sharp price increases with some experts suggesting that household fuel bills could double - so opting for a woodburning stove now could prove to be a timely move.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

We go further than you may think....

We may be based in Lee, but we don't just cover the Lewisham area.  As South East London's only HETAS-approved retailer, we sell and fit our woodburners, stoves and fireplaces right across South East London and northern parts of Kent - so that includes Dulwich, Peckham, Nunhead, Herne Hill,  Honor Oak, Tulse Hill, Hither Green, Forest Hill, Sydenham,  Brockley, Blackheath, Greenwich, Eltham, Mottingham,  New Cross, Catford, Woolwich, Thamesmead, Plumstead, Sidcup, Erith, Crayford, Orpington, Chiselhurst, Penge, Croydon, Beckenham and Bromley amongst many others...

We have a huge range of antique, modern and reproduction fireplaces as well as one showroom dedicated entirely to stoves - including a big selection of woodburners approved by Defra for use in London's smoke free zones. 

If you aren't sure whether we might be able to fit and deliver in your area, do just give us a call on 0208 852 6204 or come into the shop and see us.  We're open Monday - Saturday 10-6 and on Sundays during October and November from 12 - 4.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Extended opening hours

When the weather gets colder, we get busier!  In order to be able to offer our customers the time and attention that buying a fire or stove can require, we're increasing our opening hours during October and November.  We'll be opening on Sundays from 12-4pm starting on October 7 which we hope will give you more time to come and pay us a visit when it suits you. 

Customers are often surprised by the range of fires and stoves we have on offer when they come to the shop - it's a bit like a Tardis!.  We have four showrooms with a huge variety of modern, antique and reproduction fireplaces.  One showroom is dedicated to stoves with more than sixty models on show including a great selection of woodburners approved by Defra for use in London.

Westcombes opening hours 

Monday - Saturday 10 am - 6 pm

Sundays during October and November - 12 - 4pm

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Talking wood...

We've been selling kiln-dried logs at Westcombes for more than a year now, and we are completely converted.

When people have problems lighting fires and stoves, it's often a wood problem rather than a stove or fire problem, especially if they've been buying bags of logs from local garages.  We know it's often convenient to pick up a bag when you're filling up with petrol, but the logs may have been sitting out in the rain and aren't always seasoned.  When logs are cut they contain a surprising amount of water, and it can take up to two years for them to dry out properly.

It's harder to light damp wood, and the water means you get a smoky fire which produces more soot and tar.  This is not only less efficient and less environmentally friendly,  it can actually be dangerous - the soot and tar can clog the chimney, and that in turn can increase the risk of a chimney fire.

Our kiln-dried logs are sourced from sustainable British woodlands.  They're produced by Certainly Wood who air dry them before putting them into a wood-fired kiln to get rid of excess moisture.   We love them - and we're sure you will too!

We offer free local delivery on orders of ten bags of logs or more, and if you order twenty bags, we'll give you a free bag of logs too.  We also stock kindling and natural firelighters - why not give them a try and see what you think.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Gas safety

Next Monday marks the start of Gas Safety week, and a campaign aimed at educating people about how to ensure that their gas appliances are safe.  Here at Westcombes, we sell a range of gas fires and stoves and only recommend using properly qualified and registered fitters and installing a carbon monoxide alarm to ensure that your appliance is working properly.  We're proud to be the only fire and stove retailer in South East London approved by HETAS - the body which approves heating appliances, fuels and services.

When a fire or stove isn't properly fitted or doesn't work properly, it can leak carbon monoxide, posing a serious health hazard.  Carbon monoxide doesn't smell and can't be seen, so you may be completely unaware of the risk if you don't have an alarm.  Carbon monoxide causes headaches and dizziness, nausea and breathlessness and it can be fatal.

It's really important to use gas safely in your home and if you want more information, you can visit the Gas Safety Week website.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Can I burn logs and coal in London?

We've found that our customers are often quite confused about what they can and can't burn on fires and in stoves locally, so we thought we'd give you a brief explanation! 
Our area of South East London, along with most of the UK's large town and cities,  is designated as "smoke control areas" which means that you are not allowed to produce smoke emissions from your home.  These regulations were introduced after the thick smogs of the 1950s and 1960s.  At the time, coal was widely used to heat family homes and this contributed to the smogs which were a serious health hazard.  Controlling smoke emissions in urban areas made a real difference.
If you live in a smoke control area, you can only burn smokeless fuels (which means no wood and or normalcoal),  unless you have a stove which has been declared "exempt" by Defra.  At Westcombes, we stock a wide range of woodburning stoves which have been approved by Defra for use in smoke control zones as they produce very low emissions and are efficient and eco-friendly.  You can use coal on an open fire if it is an approved smokeless brand.

You can find more information about smoke control zones here, with details of where they are as well as exactly what you can and cannot burn. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Now's the time to get your fire or stove

Just a quick reminder that this really is the ideal time to buy a stove or fireplace to be ready for the first chilly nights of the autumn.  It may seem strange to be thinking about stoves and fires when our summer has taken so long to arrive, but it's a great time to come and have a look at the huge range we've got on show in our shop and to take some time to talk to us about what might be right for you and your home. Then you can be sure you'll have your fire or stove installed ready for the autumn.

If you need any more encouragement, we've got some great special deals on fires and stoves in our summer sale so it really is a great time to come and pay us a visit - whilst making sure you're ahead of the game by beating the autumn rush!

Our showrooms are open here at Westcombes from 10-6 Monday through to Saturday

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

We're featured in Guild of Master Craftsmen magazine...

We were all so proud that the Guild of Master Craftsmen decided to feature Westcombes in the latest edition of their magazine, Guild News.

We were chosen to be profiled in the Guild News which is circulated across the country.

Our specialist restoration work was featured, returning fireplaces to their former glory, as well as our showroom with our huge range of fireplaces and stoves.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Summer sale

It hasn't been much of a summer yet with endless days of rain, but here at Westcombes we decided it was time to cheer everyone up with our special SUMMER SALE.

We're offering discounts on a wide range of fires and stoves from now right through to the end of August - come along to our showroom at 250-252 Lee High Road where we're open from 10-6 Monday - Saturday to see what we've got on offer.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

HETAS approval for Westcombes

We're delighted to be the first stove and fireplace retailer in South East London to be approved by HETAS, the official body recognised by the Government to approve solid fuel heating appliances, fuels and services.

The HETAS Approved Retailer certification means that you know we meet the HETAS standards for service quality - and you can feel confident knowing that we have the HETAS seal of approval.

Our managing director, Max Davies, who has more than thirty years experience working with fireplaces and stoves, has been trained and examined to make sure everything we do at Westcombes is just as it should be - and we're proud to be South East London's first approved fire and stove store!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Best of British

What with it being the Jubilee this weekend, we thought it was an ideal time to celebrate some of our fabulous British-made fires and stoves.

We have more than sixty different models of stove in our stove showroom, and we featuire some wonderful designs manufactured in the UK. We stock the highly efficient Burley stoves, the popular ESSE range and Town and Country stoves made in Pickering in Yorkshire.

Our hand-built made-to-measure fires and surrounds are made in Britain by local craftsmen in wood, stone and marble. We stock British-made gas fires, and most of our antique fireplaces were made here in Victorian or Georgian times and were certainly built to last!

So, if you're thinking of a British-made fire or stove, come along to Westcombes and see what we have on offer.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Best time to buy your fire or stove

The sun is finally out here in South-East London after what feels like endless grey weeks of rain, and the evenings are at last warm enough not to need to light the fire or stove - but if you've been thinking that maybe you'd like a new fireplace or stove at some point in the future, this is the ideal time to come and have a look.

We always find that we have a sudden mad rush of customers the moment the weather gets chilly in the autumn and it means that manufacturers tend to start building up longer lead times for delivery, and our fitters get booked up too.  If you are able to think ahead and come and visit us at Westcombes to discuss your fires and stoves over the summer months, you'll have your fireplace or stove ready, installed and waiting for you to use it on that very first chilly autumn night.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

How to light your fire or stove?

We're often asked how to light a fire or stove, as the art of fire-lighting is no longer something we're taught as we're growing up. Although it's nearly summer, it's still very chilly outside and we've got our woodburner blazing away to keep us cosy, so we thought we'd bring a timely reminder of how to light a fire or stove.

First, you need to prepare your stove or fireplace. Check that the damper is open, and that the air vents on your stove are all open,

Then, lay your kindling.  We like to use either our flamers firelighters - or some scrunched newspaper - which we place inside across the base.  Then, make a pyramid of kindling on top.

Light the paper or flamers, and once the kindling begins to burn you can layer some slightly larger pieces of wood, and as soon as the fire is established, put on your coal or logs.

You will need to tend to the fire or stove to top up the fuel as necessary.  You should always make sure that you have a smoke alarm in the same room and don't ever leave the fire unattended.

Finally, it's worth remembering that using the right fuel is key to lighting a fire successfully.  All too often, we've had customers reporting problems when they've been using damp unseasoned wood - it makes it really difficult to light a fire, and what's more it will fill your chimney with soot and tar.  The kiln-dried logs we sell here at Westcombes are ideal - and that's why people who've bought them tend to keep coming back for more.  Once you've used dried logs, you'll know why it makes such a difference!

Magazine and TV fame for Westcombes...

We're delighted here at Westcombes to discover that the prestigious Guild of Master Craftsmen have decided to feature us in their magazine!  We are proud to be members of the Guild which is a sign of reliability and quality - things that matter a great deal to us at Westcombes.  So often now, customers are faced with sales staff who know nothing about what they are attempting to sell - or end up buying online where you may have no idea who you are trusting with your money. Buying a fire or stove is something you want to get right. You need good advice and will want to think about all your options.  Here at Westcombes, we pride ourselves on our service and want to be able to help all our customers find the ideal fire or stove for their homes, and we're overjoyed that our expertise is being recognised by our inclusion in the Guild's magazine.

We're also very excited about one of our fires appearing on ITV's "6O Minute Makeover" this coming Tuesday at 2pm.  The show's producers came to Westcombes for advice and we're delighted to win yet another endorsement for the excellent service and range of products that we supply.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Decorative tiles

One thing customers are often delighted by in our shop is the antique tiles displayed around the shop.  Most are Victorian or Edwardian and come in a huge range of styles, patterns and colours, including many beautiful Art Nouveau designs. Some are preserved in entire sets and can be purchased to go into an insert for a fire, but we also have many individual tiles or smaller groups of tiles.

Retailing at anything from £3 upwards, we're endlessly fascinated by the uses people find for our tiles from coasters or hotplates to creating patterned hearths or for use in Victorian porches.  Sometimes particularly attractive tiles are bought by people who want to hang them on the wall.  If you're looking for a quirky, original design feature, you may want to come and check out our tile selection at Westcombes!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Light up a damp grey day with a woodburning stove...

Well, a week on and it's STILL raining... There's nothing we like better than warming up around our stove on days like today when the skies are grey and the rain just keeps pouring down.

One of the things we like best about our stove is that we can burn logs even in London, as it has been approved by DEFRA for use in smoke-free zones.  Many of our customers assume that they'll have to have a gas or electric stove if they live in London - or that they'll need to burn smokeless coal - but in fact the latest DEFRA-approved wood burning stoves have been specially designed to produce very low emissions and are ideal for use in smoke-free zones.

If you're interested in a stove, come and see us at Westcombes. We have the largest selection you'll find in South-East London with more than sixty different models in our dedicated stove showroom - along with our huge range of antique, reproduction and contemporary fires!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

April showers

It may be good for the garden and after so many dry months, we do need some rain but the grey skies and drizzle outside feel rather gloomy after the sunny weather we've enjoyed in recent months.  There's no better way to cheer up a chilly spring evening than to light a fire or stove for some instant warmth and cosiness.  We're well stocked up with kiln-dried logs and kindling here at Westcombes if you need supplies - and if you don't have a fire or stove,  come and choose from our huge selection!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Fires without chimneys

Customers often assume that if they don't have a chimney, they can't have a fire or stove but in fact that isn't the case any more.  You can have a flueless fire or a stove which doesn't need a chimney or any flue pipes - they're easy to install and look fabulous. What's more, they're very efficient as you aren't loosing heat up the chimney.

The one thing you will need if you want a flueless fire or stove is an air vent in your room.  This is essential to ensure there is sufficient oxygen in the room to keep the fire burning properly.

You can have a flueless fire inserted into an existing fireplace, or you can have a wall mounted fire and you can select from a wide variety of both traditional and modern styles.

Other options include a balanced flue fire or stove, which will need a flue pipe fitted to an outside wall so any emissions go straight outside, or an electric fire or stove.  People are often put off the idea of an electric fire having seen old-fashioned models which can look pretty awful, but customers are often surprised by how authentic the latest electric fires and stoves we sell at Westcombes can look.

If you're interested in a fire or stove and don't have a chimney, you may want to pay us a visit at Westcombes to have a look at some of the options available. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The perfect time to get your chimneys swept

We've had our chimneys swept this week, and if you use your fires it's an ideal time to book an appointment with a sweep. It's easy to forget about the chimney once you stop using your fire or stove in the warmer weather, and then once you start using it again in the autumn there is likely to be a build up of soot and debris which can lead to a chimney fire.  People often assume that chimney fires are quite innocuous and limited to the inside of the chimney, but they can damage your entire home and put lives in danger so it isn't a risk you want to take.  If you're using your fire or stove regularly, it should be swept at least once a year.

There's a myth that chimney sweeping is a terribly dirty, dusty business and in the past people would cover all their furniture in sheets to prevent it getting sooty. Nowadays, it's a remarkably clean process, effectively just like hoovering out the chimney, and the sweep should bring sufficient covers for the area close to the fire which could get a bit dusty. If you use your fire regularly, you'll probably notice a real difference after you've had the chimney swept as it may burn better and with real log fires you'll know that there's less smoke in the room.

At Westcombes, we can recommend reliable and efficient sweeps who are properly qualified and who we trust to do a good job - and we'd suggest thinking about it now rather than waiting until the autumn when good sweeps are busier and you may face a wait.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Fireplace restoration

You may not know that we don't just sell stoves and fires at Westcombes, we also offer a restoration service for fireplaces.  Many of the fires in Edwardian, Victorian or Georgian properties start to look rather tired if they haven't had any love and attention. Some may have been painted over in the past, or may be stained or damaged. Our craftsmen can restore them to their former glory and customers are often amazed at how beautiful a grotty fire can look once it has had some care. We're member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen and you can be confident that your fires are in the best possible hands when you bring them to us for restoration.  You can see our details on the Guild of Master Craftsmen website here.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Free with every stove...

At Westcombes, we know that customers don't always feel confident about lighting their stoves for the first time, and that's why we're providing a free fire starter kit with every DEFRA-approved woodburner we sell at the shop.  Containing matches, natural firelighters, kindling and logs, the starter kit has everything you need to get your stove going - and we've found that once customers try the kiln-dried logs we sell in the shop, they're reluctant to use wood sold elsewhere which is often damp and hard to light.

So, if you're considering buying a stove, come and look at our extensive range of more than sixty stoves in a dedicated stove showroom here at Westcombes - we have gas, electric and multi-fuel stoves as well as DEFRA-approved woodburners and we're sure you'll find something you like!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

An energy efficient home

It's always great for us to see happy customers with warm fires and stoves to keep their homes cosy - but it's important to make sure you're not losing all that lovely heat you're creating. Thinking about energy efficiency at home won't only conserve heat, it can save money too. We've put together a few tips to help you make sure you aren't wasting money and energy -

  • Poor window fittings can lead to drafts, letting in cold air. Make sure your windows are properly fitted and insulated.  You may want to consider double glazing.
  • Drawing your curtains as soon as it gets dark helps to keep your home warm.
  • It's surprising how much heat can be lost through the roof.  Is your loft space insulated?  Having an insulated loft can soon save money on heating bills.
  • If you are burning wood, make sure you come to Westcombes to stock up on kiln-dried wood which is far more efficient than the damp, unseasoned wood you may get elsewhere. 
  • Adjusting your heating thermostat by just a degree can cut your bills by as much as 10%.  If you don't have a thermostat - get one!
  • Make sure you turn electrical appliances off rather than leaving them on standby which is using electricity all the time.
  • Dripping hot water taps cost you money! 
  • If you don't use them already, try energy-saving light bulbs.
  • Make sure you turn the lights off when you leave a room.
  • Only boil the water you actually need when you put the kettle on for a cup of tea.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Westcombes on TV!

We're all excited here at Westcombes today as we've just heard that a date has been set for our TV appearance - well, actually a TV appearance for a Westcombes fire!  We were selected by ITV to be part of their interior design show, "60 Minute Makeover".  We supplied a Westcombes fire to provide a focal point for a newly-decorated room at a house in Erith.

If you want to catch Westcombes on TV, the show is due to air on ITV on Tuesday 22 May at 2pm.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Chimney fires

The Jeremy Vine show on Radio Two had a feature earlier this week about a spate of chimney fires in Devon. They may sound innocuous but can be really frightening with flames shooting out of the top of the chimney and lots of smoke and noise - and they can cause serious damage to your home.  If your chimney is on fire, the advice is to call the fire brigade right away.

There are some things you can do to help prevent chimney fires and one of the most important is to ensure you have your chimney regularly swept - a build up of soot and deposits in the chimney is a common cause of fires.  You may also be surprised to learn that burning unseasoned (or damp) wood can be an issue.  Wood sold on garage forecourts is often unseasoned and it doesn't burn well.

At Westcombes, we recommend using a qualified chimney sweep and we have local sweeps who are members of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps to keep your chimney clear - and we sell fantastic kiln-dried wood.

The woodburning stove car heater...

Woodburning stoves are ever more popular, but the idea of installing one to heat your car was certainly new to us!  Faced with icy temperatures during the winter, one Swiss German guy decided that by far the most effective way to heat his Volvo would be to install a woodburning stove in the car - and so he did just that... The sight of him driving through the snow with a blazing stove in his car and a chimney poking out of the roof is quite interesting - take a look here!

Our installers can't put stoves into your Volvo, but will be able to help if you want a stove in a more normal setting in your home or office - contact us for information about our huge range of woodburning stoves approved by DEFRA for use in London's smoke control zone.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


We just took a call from a customer who'd found a stove she liked the look of online - but was expected to go and pick it up from the other side of the UK herself!  Buying online can sometimes seem cheap, but we're able to match many internet offers now - and the advantage of shopping with us is that you can see the stoves and fires yourself and discuss them with us making use of our many years of experience and expertise in this field.

True, we don't yet deliver across the UK but we offer free local delivery to many areas in London and even parts of Kent too.  For slightly longer distances, we can often deliver for a small charge depending on what we are delivering and where too!

Do come and see us at Westcombes if you're looking for a fire or stove - we have a wide selection in our four showrooms and we're sure you'll find something that appeals.  We're open 10-6, Monday to Saturday.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The best place to celebrate Valentine's Day...

If restaurants jam-packed with Valentine's Day couples don't appeal, why not choose to spend the evening with your loved one in front of a cosy fire at home.  A bottle of fizz, some delicious food and a roaring fire will make for a far more romantic evening than any special Valentine's menu in a restaurant.  Of course, we are a little biased but we think you'll probably agree if you've got one of our lovely Westcombes fires or stoves at home!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Cold. cold, cold...

After a snowy weekend here in London, it's frosty again today and there were even a few snowflakes in the air this morning.  Temperatures are expected to stay low for a while, and it's just the kind of weather when you want to come in from the cold and settle down in front of a cosy fire or stove.  Of course, it's rare nowadays to find a home without central heating, but even so a fire or stove can give a warming glow to your home.

If this cold snap has made you think about getting a stove or fire, come and visit us at Westcombes to take a look at the huge selection we have on offer.  And don't forget, we sell kiln dried logs, kindling and flamer firelighters too!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Can I have a stove if my house doesn't have a chimney?

We often see customers at Westcombes who say that they'd like to have a stove, but don't have a chimney. You may want to build a chimney or put in a rigid flue system but this is often an expensive business and there are other options.  You can still enjoy many of the benefits of a cosy stove without a chimney by opting for a balanced flue or flueless gas model or an electric stove.

Balanced Flue Gas Stoves - With a balanced flue stove, the flue is fitted to an outside wall so any emissions go straight outside. You don't need a chimney, but the position of the stove is important as the flue needs to be able to go to an outside wall.

Flueless Gas Stoves - With a flueless gas stove, you don't need to be next to an outside wall as the waste gases go through a catalytic convertor.  In order to have a flueless stove fitted you do need an air vent in the room.

Electric Stoves - Electric Stoves are increasingly popular because they are so easy to install and use. Our customers are often very pleasantly surprised by how authentic the latest electric stoves can look.  They often come with different heat settings, including one with just a glow so you can have the look of the blazing stove without the heat using very little energy.

If you're interested in any of these options, come along to Westcombes and take a look at some of the huge selection of stoves in our special stove showroom. We have more than fifty models on show giving you a wide range to choose from.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Happy New Year

Just to wish all our customers, former customers and friends all the best for a very happy 2012!  We've been closed over the Christmas period, but we are now open as usual from 10-6 Monday to Saturdays. Don't forget that we stock one of the largest ranges of modern, reproduction and antique fireplaces as well as a huge selection of stoves  - see for details.