Northumberland chimney sweeps trade life in Cragside for fireside

Duncan Norman and Leigh Philp, formerly Chief and Deputy Chief of National Trust Property Rangers now run “The Northumberland Sweep” and have cleaned more than 500 chimneys since February.

The pair are familiar faces in the Coquet Valley, having been in National Trust ownership for a combined 22 years when the coronavirus caused a restructuring and the team was downsized at the end of 2020.

Duncan was fired and made the decision to buy “The Northumberland Sweep” from Colin Davison, a respected local sweep who was retiring.

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Duncan Norman and Leigh Philp.

Leigh decided to join in on the action and joined Duncan, making her one of the few women to sweep the industry.

Both have undergone training and exams and are now members of the Guild of Sweeping Masters.

Duncan said: “After being the Chief Ranger at Cragside for so long, the layoff notice was a big blow as I had a great team who worked hard and were dedicated.

“I knew I couldn’t do a desk job, I had to go out and enjoy our campaign. So when the opportunity arose to buy ‘The Northumberland Sweep’ with my severance pay, I jumped at the chance.

Duncan Norman and Leigh Philp from ‘The Northumberland Sweep’.

“I love Northumberland and am so grateful that this job allows me to travel, see the county and meet people.

“It’s great to work in the heart of the community. So far we’ve swept everything from holiday cottages and pubs to village halls and even a 14th century castle there is so never a boring day. “

Leigh added, “Although I never imagined being a chimney sweep, I really enjoy it.

“Each job is so different and we visit amazing places and people. I’ve never been afraid to get my hands dirty and most people are amazed at how fast and clean the process is. “

This time of year is a good time to have the chimneys swept while the fires are not in use.

Duncan and Leigh cover all of Northumberland and sweep chimneys (wood stoves and open fires), replace glass, firebricks and rope joints and may do minor repairs.

To book ‘The Northumberland Sweep’ call 07502 234789 or email [email protected]. They are also online and on Facebook.

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