Thursday, 28 May 2015

Fireplace fun part deux

It takes a bit of an effort to psych myself up for a job in which I know I'll get filthy and horrible, but I returned to Bedroom 1 today to finish off revealing the fireplace that I started last week.

In the first round of destruction I had managed to reveal a bit of a mystery, in that behind the wooden frame which had been holding up the papered-over fibreboard cover there was some kind of brick set-up which appeared to have a firey purpose, although I couldn't figure out what it was. Looking up the flue suggested that no actual burning of note had ever taken place in there either so I hoped that today I could finally work it out.

But I couldn't.

Nevertheless, out came my trusty lump hammer and bolster chisel and once I had removed most of the frame (some of it was attached to the brickwork with 3" nails) I started carefully tapping away at the bricks which didn't appear to be original or tied in with anything else.

It took me almost a week to put this together.
Jigsaws just aren't my thing.
Most were only very loosely mortared in place and many of those I could remove just by pulling them out, whereas some took a little bit more effort. Not much, mind.
Lime and ginger
Interestingly most, if not all, of the mortar was lime mixed with horse hair as a binding ingredient which tells me that it was done some considerable time earlier than the 1957 News of the World I had found in there last week suggested, because at that time ordinary cement mortar would likely have been used instead. It also explains why they were so easy to remove because the lime would have become weaker with age.
This ties in with the fact that the bricks I pulled out were a mix of soft and crumbly orange Victorian ones and harder more (comparatively) modern ones, which suggests that both were readily available at the time and maybe the softer ones were just being used up to get rid of them. I'm guessing of course, and I'm not exactly an architectural Columbo, so it's entirely possible that I'm way wide of the mark.


Nevertheless I still like my theory - old but not original.

Quarry tile base
Anyway, to cut to the chase, I eventually revealed a straight-sided fire chamber not unlike the one I uncovered in Bedroom 3 last week: reasonably small and narrow with an arch above it and a quarry tile base. Despite having been covered in gypsum again - like in Bedroom 3 - the arch was in much better condition with considerably less spalling (crumbly bits)... but it wasn't very 'archy'.

I'm sure the thought was there when it was built though. So points for that.

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