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History of the Chimney

You probably came to visit our site to learn about Chimney Balloons and didn't expect a history lesson! However chimneys and flues have had a fascinating evolution! Take some time to have a read before you order your Chimney Balloon!

The word "chimney" comes from the Latin word caminus which means a "furnace". As time went on, the meaning of the word evolved and changed so that it also came to mean both the furnace and the flue!Chimney Balloon - The First Chimneys

Until the 1300s chimneys were rare. Typically the main room or chamber of a dwelling was heated by burning logs on a central hearth. The smoke generally escaped through a hole in the roof. Although this worked great for single storey structures with large rooms, it wasn't great for buildings with two or more storeys.

During the 1400s and 1500s towns grew rapidly. Multi storey buildings became more common and chimneys also became more popular. In the early days chimneys were large structures, and typically served just one fire.

As houses evolved, so too did chimneys! Chimneys eventually became multi-flued, with each flue serving a separate fire.

Chimney Balloon - Tudor Times

In the Georgian period (1714 to 1830) the arrangement of flues became quite sophisticated. Increasingly they were built of brick rather than stone. Bricks could more easily cope with heat, and they were far easier to work with that stone, which could be difficult to cut and shape.

From about the year 1800, most chimneys were built with flues approximately 9" square (225mm). The separating wall separating the flues in a multi-flue arrangement was known as the withe and was typically a half brick (100mm). To prevent smoke from escaping, most flues were lined with mortar. This is often referred to as parging.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries the construction of flues did not change significantly. Semi detached houses built from the early 1930s would typically have a fireplace in each of the main rooms. Each of the main bedrooms would have a fireplace, with one for the lounge and one for the dining room. In fact the only exception in three bedroom semi-detached of the time would be the bathroom and the third bedroom!

Until the 1950s it was not common practice to line flues. A liner (either clay or special heat resistance concrete) helped keep the flue warm, prevented smoke from leaking and reduced the risks of condensation. In fact, in the UK, until 1965 the construction of fireplaces and chimneys was controlled by local by-laws and good practice. The Building Regulations did not appear until 1965.

Modern well insultated houses quite often have no chimney at all - isn't it amazing the way that everything comes full circle!

So hopefully now you know a bit more and are ready to order your Chimney Balloon! Click here to return to our home page.