Chimney Lining – Georgian Chimneys

Chimney Lining – A seven part look into the history of chimney lining

Part 2.  The chimney starts to evolve – Georgian chimneys and Victorian Chimneys

This is a series of articles on chimneys, with specific reference to the chimney lining and liners.  In the first we dealt with the older style chimneys, usually referred to as inglenooks.  In this one we move onto the next major step, Georgian chimneys.

Refer to a Certified Chimney Sweep for tailored advice

One piece of advice we gave that bears repeating is to make sure you use a certified chimney sweep.  Such chimney sweeps have had to demonstrate competence to a nationally recognised standard, they issue certificates, (which is important for insurance purposes) and most relevant to these articles they have the sort of knowledge base that allows them to give you good advice should you recognise any of the problems we highlight.

Georgian Chimneys

The Georgian chimney represents a move away from the older claybat constructions, where the bulk of the chimney was constructed from clay blocks held together with a clay mortar.

Instead, these Georgian chimneys are entirely constructed in brick, with a lime putty mortar that is remarkably acid resistant.  Flue gasses are incredibly acidic, and more modern chimneys were to see the effects of this in spades.  The Georgian chimneys though stand tall and proud, and in general, their condition is far better than some chimneys half their age.  Where their liners have eroded, by and large the brick and lime putty construction resists the acid attack of the flue gases.

Victorian ChimneysGeorgian Chimneys

Now we come to the Victorian chimneys.  The Victorians achieved great innovations, but the Victorian chimney represents a step backward in chimney design.  Not that they saw it that way, of course, and there are, it has to be said, many good points about Victorian chimneys.

One point to clear up is that fact that the name is a little misleading.  This method of construction was finally banned in 1965, so we refer to any chimney of this style as Victorian, even though they were still being built 65 years after her death.

Victorian chimneys were in effect a brick tube with an internal dimension of 9” x 9”.  They went to great lengths to ensure that these measurements were not compromised, and when they made a bend in a chimney, the builders had to ensure that it was possible to pass a house brick through the bend, both horizontally and vertically.  They understood the importance of not reducing the bore of the chimney, even if all they had in mind was that a small boy would have to get up there.

Ah, the good old days when the way to clean a chimney was to grab a passing ‘urchin’ of appropriate size and shove him (or her), up the smaller flues.  You know, I had been sweeping for a few years, and had swept a lot of Victorian chimneys, when I asked someone where all the chimneys were that the climbing boys used to sweep.  They explained that the children were sent up those self-same 9” x 9” flues I had been sweeping.  Draw a 9”x9” square on a sheet of paper, cut it out and visualise crawling through such a flue!

Anyway, back to the subject in hand.  A Victorian chimneys’ great feature was that they were (mostly) well designed.  Their problems though were legion, and we will see why in the next article.  It was a very small detail, but it has led to enormous problems.

To recap.

  1. Georgian chimneys are great.  Georgian chimneys are positively smug.
  2. Victorian chimneys are well designed, but suffer from one terrible flaw.
  3. Should you suspect that any of the problems described in these articles affect you, please get a certified chimney sweep in and ask him about it – they are really knowledgeable.


Check out our articles in this Chimney Lining series:

  1. Chimney Lining – Inglenooks
  2. Chimney Lining – Georgian Chimneys
  3. Chimneys and their liners – the Victorian Era
  4. Chimney Lining – Victorian Chimneys
  5. Chimney Lining – Acid Attack
  6. Chimneys – Modern Design
  7. Chimney Liner – Lining a Chimney

For more advice, or to book a chimney sweeping appointment please call us on 01223 964305 or email us at

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Wight Initiatives Ltd,
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Cambridge, CB1 1AH
The Officers’ Mess Business Centre, Royston Road, Duxford, CB22 4QH
Registered in the UK # 7725 203
VAT # 218 3459 04