Northumberland chimney sweeps swap life at Cragside for one by the fireside

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Two former rangers from Cragside have teamed up to run a chimney sweep business.

Duncan Norman and Leigh Philp, formerly head and assistant head ranger at the National Trust property now run ‘The Northumberland Sweep’ and have cleaned over 500 chimneys since February.

The pair are familiar faces in the Coquet Valley, having been at the National Trust property a combined total of 22 years when coronavirus prompted a restructure and the team was downsized in late 2020.

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Duncan was made redundant and made the decision to buy ‘The Northumberland Sweep’ from Colin Davison, a respected local sweep who was retiring.

Duncan Norman and Leigh Philp.Duncan Norman and Leigh Philp.
Duncan Norman and Leigh Philp.

Leigh decided to get in on the action and joined Duncan, making her one of very few female sweeps in the industry.

Both have completed training and examinations and are now members of The Guild of Master Sweepers.

Duncan said: “After being head ranger at Cragside for so long, the redundancy notice was a bit of a blow as I had a great team who were hard working and dedicated.

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"I knew I couldn’t do an office job, I had to be out and about enjoying our countryside. So when the opportunity came up to buy ‘The Northumberland Sweep’ with my redundancy payout, I jumped at the chance.

Duncan Norman and Leigh Philp of 'The Northumberland Sweep'.Duncan Norman and Leigh Philp of 'The Northumberland Sweep'.
Duncan Norman and Leigh Philp of 'The Northumberland Sweep'.

"I absolutely love Northumberland and I’m so grateful that this job means I get to travel around, see the county and meet the people.

"It feels great to be working in the heart of the community. So far we’ve swept everything from holiday cottages, pubs, village halls and even a 14th century castle, so there’s never a dull day.”

Leigh added: “While I never imagined being a chimney sweep, I’m really enjoying it.

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“Every job is so different and we get to visit some amazing places and people. I’ve never been afraid of getting my hands dirty and most people are amazed by how quick and clean the process is. ”

This time of year is a good time to get chimneys swept while fires are unused.

Duncan and Leigh cover the whole of Northumberland and sweep chimneys (wood burners and open fires), replace glass, fire bricks and rope seals and can carry out 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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