When I started, the open fireplace was master, without a question, and then came gas, and solid fuel was eclipsed until people realised how much they missed open fires. All well and good, and we saw fireplaces opening up left right and centre. The next thing though was the stove installations increased so we saw plenty of these and we had to adjust to the wide range of stoves that started to proliferate.
In some cases the stove installation was good, while in others the stove installation was bad. This did lead to a few misconceptions, that a stove installation was a bad idea because it robbed you of an open fire, that there was something missing from the ‘experience’.
I myself had a stove installation, and it is true that something is lost when you install a stove.
- To whit, you lose a big chunk of your fuel bill,
- you lose the way the fire would run hot and waste fuel, and above all
- you lost the fascinating game of ‘Hunt the Spark’. Such fun!
How I remember sitting there on the sofa, half asleep, when all of a sudden there was a strangled explosion and a spark/ember would shoot out of the fire. Of course the real fun was when you didn’t see where it went. In an instant, the sleepy room exploded into life with bodies flying out of the sofa. One person would hunt in the recesses of the sofa, desperate to find it before it burnt a hole in the fabric, while the rest of us on hands and knees would race around sniffing for the heady fumes of smouldering carpet before the spark did real damage. Some were quite big, and required real skill. There was no time to go and get something fireproof, you had to grab it and throw it onto the fire and hope that it didn’t stick to the skin and cause more than a small burn, which was the usual prize for the person who won ‘Hunt the Spark!’
Yes. Looking back on it, I was pretty glad when we moved into the stove phase of the evolution of fireplaces.