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We’re delighted to share the news of this year’s Charnwood Dealer Day held recently on the beautiful Isle of Wight. Thank you to all who made the trip – it was wonderful to reconnect in person after two years! It was a chance to celebrate everything that makes Charnwood special – that innovative spirit, the commitment to quality, and of course, the wonderful community we’ve built together.

Over three days, we shared a glimpse into the exciting future of Charnwood, with groundbreaking ideas that will keep our wood-burning stoves at the forefront. The real highlight, though? Unveiling brand new Charnwood stoves – packed with cutting-edge technology and, as always, stunning design.
Read on to learn more about the event and our latest stove releases!

The NEW Charnwood Skye E700

The Future of wood-burning! The Skye E700 (above) is a new intelligent micro-processor-controlled stove fitted with our intelligent I-blu technology and is set to revolutionize the way we burn wood.
 

Load the fire, close the door, set your room temperature using the Charnwood app and let the stove do the rest. Maximising efficiency is now as simple as that – we can’t wait to see how this game-changer impacts the industry! 

The NEW Charnwood Cranmore Insert

 

Our latest addition to the Cranmore range is our new Cranmore Insert. It features our renowned de-ashing grate and is designed to fit easily into a standard British fireplace. It boasts an output of 4.9kW, has built in external air, a convection box and a single air control for a highly efficient and clean burn. Please note: the flue diameter size is 5″ (125mm)

Charnwood Dealer Day 2024 Summary

 

This year our key message was ‘Why Choose Charnwood?’ We wanted to show you our design and manufacturing capabilities backed up by our 52 year heritage and passion for what we do. 

On Thursday we started the day with a welcome and local Hog Roast lunch at Charnwood HQ. After an introduction in the studio and the unveiling of the Skye E700 and the new Cranmore Insert, we split into smaller groups. We then worked our way around AJ Wells HQ to experience our full manufacturing and engineering facilities. Hugh, our Managing Director, gave an insightful talk on the stove industry and some of the challenges we have been facing, while other sessions included a visit to a local Charnwood showroom to demonstrate what we can offer in creating a Charnwood space. We also ran a session to make your very own enamel coaster. The day ended with a well-earned relax at the hotels followed by a dinner hosted at The Royal Hotel in the spa town of Ventnor.
 

On Friday the groups headed towards the beautiful West Wight where we held a number of activities including clay pigeon shooting, axe throwing, sauna & ice baths, a permaculture tour and a chairlift & boat ride to view the Island’s famous ‘Needles’. 

We then all reconvened at The Cow Co restaurant where we shared a delicious lunch of local burgers. Here we held our coveted ‘Black Dog’ award ceremony where we award the Premier Dealers who have shown an exceptional commitment to Charnwood over the last year.

Black Dog Award Winners!

 

 

The Arcade – Golden Dog

Direct Stoves – Top Dealer N England

RW Knight (1) – Top Dealer SW England

Croydon Stoves (5) – Top Dealer SE England

Bonk & Co (2) – Top Dealer Scotland

The Arcade – Top Dealer Wales

The Woodburning Centre (4) – Top Dealer Ireland

Woodstoves Ireland – Top Dealer Northern Ireland

TaviStock Stoves & Fireplaces (3) – Best Newcomer

A.Bell & Co. – Most Improved

Huge congratulations to you all!

________

Stay tuned for more exciting news about the new Charnwood product range coming soon!

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We are delighted and honoured to have received a King’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category. The King’s Award is the UK’s most prestigious business award given to only a select number of businesses each year. The award is a recognition of the amazing efforts of everyone here at AJ Wells and Sons and also our wider Charnwood family which includes you, our customers. Thank you for all the support you have given us over the years!

Read on to learn more about why we were chosen to receive The King’s Award for Enterprise 2024

A journey of innovation and adaptation

Our story is one of constant evolution. Founded in 1972, Alfred J Wells and his 3 sons started by making metal fire escapes and railings. With the 1970s oil crisis and a shift in customer needs, AJ Wells & Sons pivoted to design and craft their first wood-burning stove and Charnwood was born. That same adaptability led them to explore vitreous enamel signage when the King’s Cross fire disaster highlighted its importance for safety and durability. These experiences instilled the importance of staying agile and embracing new opportunities, such as our stunning Vlaze super vitrified outdoor kitchens, released in 2020.

One constant over time and across our businesses, however, has been a drive to make a positive difference. We create products that are built to last, designed to be easily repaired, and that are kind to the environment – a reflection of our core values and commitment to sustainability.

The AJ Way: Our guiding principles

 

Our faith and our family values are at the heart of everything we do. The AJ Way, our company philosophy, embodies this spirit. Our company objectives are to Transform Lives and Delight Customers, and the prestigious recognition of the Kings Award hopefully demonstrates our progress towards these aims. We strive to improve the quality of life for everyone we touch, by creating high-quality products and nurturing a positive work environment. We care sincerely about the environment and are working diligently towards our Net Zero 2050 commitment.

Our international success is a testament to teamwork

We understand the importance of striking a balance between our domestic market and our export endeavours. The UK remains incredibly important to us, offering stability and a familiar landscape. However, exporting has been key to our growth and provided valuable diversification and growth opportunities.

We now operate extensively throughout Europe and trade with South Africa, North America, Japan, and Australia. Our success abroad wouldn’t have been possible without our fantastic team and dedicated partners. Building trust and strong relationships is paramount to our success in each location and in each market, we’ve been blessed to find partners who share our values and vision.

We have also gained valuable insights and knowledge from operating internationally. For example, the demand for external air features in Japanese stoves led to an innovation that benefited customers worldwide. In Australia, an increased focus on efficiency, understanding design preferences and meeting logistical challenges, has fueled rapid growth while providing ideas and knowledge that translate well to other markets.

Investing in the future and striving for excellence

 

At AJ Wells & Sons, we’re committed to continuous improvement to ensure our products stand out in a crowded marketplace. While market share figures can be interesting, our true focus is on exceeding our own targets and achieving dominance in specific markets. 

Our recent investments in advanced laser profiling and robotic welding equipment, ensure we remain at the forefront of British manufacturing. We’re also investing heavily in our people by fostering a culture of innovation and development. Looking to the future, we’re exploring other markets, seeking ways to expand our reach and positive impact. 

Some of our other highlights of 2023/24 

Here are some of the other highlights, news and outstanding projects our businesses have been involved with in 2023/24.  

AJ Wells 

The Surface Design Awards 

 

We were delighted to win top spot in the Commercial Building Exterior category at the Surface Design Awards 2024! A.J Wells and Sons designed, developed, manufactured and installed the beautiful vitreous enamel external soffit on the sixth floor of the award-winning project, at The Rowe, Whitechapel, London.

Brent Cross West Station

 

A.J Wells and Sons are proud to have manufactured and installed the stunning vitreous enamel paneling of Giles Round’s artwork at Brent Cross West mainline train station. Renowned British artist Giles Round was commissioned to create a captivating artwork to adorn the station’s interior. Titled “Time passes & still I think of you,” this expansive architectural frieze graces The Arbour, the station’s eastern entrance, marking the fifth public artwork commissioned for Brent Cross Town.

Read more here 

Charnwood

 

At Progetto Fueco 2024, this year’s star attraction was undoubtedly the debut of our brand-new Skye E700 wood-burning stove, which wowed attendees. The Skye E700 is a new intelligent microprocessor-controlled stove set to revolutionize the way we burn wood. The E700 uses electronic control to constantly monitor the fire and make automatic adjustments to ensure wood is always burnt cleanly and efficiently. It offers users the convenience of just loading the fire, setting the room temperature using the Charnwood app and letting the stove do the rest. Maximising efficiency is now as simple as that – we can’t wait to see how this game-changer impacts the industry!

Read more about the many benefits of owning a wood-burning stove

Vlaze

 

This year we introduced our upgraded Vlaze Adapt outdoor kitchen cabinetry. Innovative 60 and 120-module units offer endless configurations making it easier than ever to design and install your perfect outdoor kitchen diner. New internal features like pull-out bins and smooth-gliding drawers, maximise convenience. Plus, our grill cabinets seamlessly fit slide-in gas grills, expanding your cooking horizons. With the summer not far away it’s time to let the fresh air, sunshine, and the aroma of delicious food create unforgettable moments with family & friends.

Read more here

We also revealed our new Nature Collection organic colour range which is perfect for those who want to add colour, but seek a more subtle approach. Soft, stylish, natural shades blend seamlessly with your garden environment and help create a truly unique and tranquil space.
 

Here are some detail shots of Sage, Clay and Chalk – subtle shades in glorious vitreous enamel!  

A message of gratitude  

Like most businesses, we have faced many challenges and uncertainties over the last few years and as we highlighted in our application it has been our faith in Jesus which has proved to be our rock. This King’s Award for Enterprise is a tremendous honour and a humbling recognition of the incredible dedication and hard work put in by our entire AJ Wells & Sons family. We’re incredibly grateful to our team, our partners, and our loyal customers around the world. Here’s to many more years of crafting exceptional products, building strong and meaningful relationships, and making a positive difference! 

You can get in touch here to discuss your project. 

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I spent the weekend clearing and chopping a large Eucalyptus which had blown down in storms a few weeks ago. It was a magnificent tree and one which we were sad to see come down. Its beauty, however, went beyond its imposing stature. As logs were cut and split ready for stacking and seasoning to provide heat at a much later date, the beauty of creation’s ability to store energy was demonstrated in its fullness. Energy storage has always been a human challenge, but this tree had done it perfectly. Earlier that day I had been at Parkrun and the subject of wood burning had been raised in light of the Scottish government’s reported ‘ban’ on installing wood burners in new builds (which has caused problems for the Scottish Government): “It is just crazy, where is the common sense in that” a local businessman said to me. Indeed, as I looked at the logs I had just cut, I agreed – where is the common sense of not using this stored energy for heat? It is local, widely available, and it is nature’s gift. When we look out of our window we may see a number of energy sources – maybe some sun, sometimes the effects of wind, but almost always trees.  

Despite the clear benefits of using wood as a fuel source, there has been much anti-wood-burning talk recently, not least in Scotland. So, are we losing our common sense? Are we disregarding nature? At Charnwood, environmental responsibility has always been a core value and driver of our business as we try and make a difference in what we do. We want to listen, we want to engage with the voices that are contrary to our views, indeed that is the way we learn. There is a proverb from the bible which says:  

“Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.” (Proverbs 9) 

We initially held back from engaging with the anti-wood burning lobby on social media. However, we eventually felt compelled to start pushing back on some of the misleading and untrue claims made by the Wood Burning London and Global Action Plan campaigns. As we started to engage more, we realised that there were a lot of different viewpoints, some of which we hadn’t considered fully before. In light of this, we wrote:  

‘Shared Goals, Cleaner Air: Reimagining the Wood Burning Debate with Healthy Dialogue & Believing the Best in Each Other’ 

In this, we argued we needed to start believing the best in each other in order that we work together for positive solutions. In truth, this has been really hard. We have always sought to be polite – to engage well and be constructive. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, this is rarely reciprocated. In hindsight, maybe we should have paid more attention to the first part of the proverb: 

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you” 

We were certainly mocked, insulted, abused and hated! We are apparently representatives of the ‘Stink Industry’, our customers are ‘stokers’ and we have been given a new brand name ‘CharrredWood’. We were called liars, condescending and not genuine…. The claims went on, abuse was thrown our way and when we did invite more meaningful debate away from X we were accused of having bad motives and wanting to discredit people. When there seemed to be genuine concerns and we offered to engage in detail away from social media to find solutions, in most cases, those with the issues refused the offer of help and even called us creepy for offering! Our motives and funding were questioned, and we were accused of acting in bad faith. Some users have even learnt how to use AI images to produce grotesque anti-wood-burning memes. It was tempting to want to reply aggressively, but we tried to resist.  

We know there are strong voices on both sides, and social media can breed one-sided arguments while amplifying negativity. But the intensity of the anti-wood burning sentiment online from certain groups was still a little unexpected. Engaging felt a bit like venturing into a lion’s den – or maybe a nest of angry wasps – we got our fair share of stings! Our words were sometimes twisted, and our motives misconstrued. 

Here is one example of a social media post that highlights some of the challenges to the debate. An unwillingness to recognise the very real differences between different stoves and other forms of woodburning is not constructive. Obviously ‘good’ is subjective, but we think it is a justified adjective when you consider a modern stove, burned correctly, is up to 80% more efficient than an old stove and 90% more than an open fire. Additionally, emissions from modern wood stoves, when used correctly, are negligible. Burning dry wood (e.g. Ready to Burn certified) in an Ecodesign-compliant stove (e.g. clearSkies certified) makes up just 0.09% of total UK PM2.5 emissions. Source: NAEI (1). 

Also, scaremongering tactics regarding an increased cancer risk to stove owners misrepresent the facts and is very unhelpful to all. This report undertaken by Dr Amanda Lea-Langton, (2) senior lecturer in Bioenergy Engineering at the University of Manchester found:   

-No scientific evidence for adverse health impacts from exposure to the indoor air typically associated with modern, enclosed wood-burning stoves 

-Use of modern wood-burning stoves may help to improve air quality inside the home due to the natural draught created during wood stove operation that pulls air from the room into the appliance and from outside. (Even the findings from the London Wood-Burning Project (3), who are anti-woodburning, back this up: “Use of the clearSkies Level 5 stove demonstrated some benefits for indoor air quality. Indoor PM2.5 did not increase when adding fuel to the stove once lit… At times there was actually a decrease in indoor concentrations of PM2.5 when adding fuel.”) 

-Other sources of particulate matter in the home, such as cooking, can release much higher levels of PM compared to modern, enclosed wood-burning stoves, and could therefore have greater health risk potential 

Despite the hostility online, the experience did provide some value. We do recognise people’s concerns and understand some of the frustration. What was very apparent is that many of the most vehement anti-wood-burners have had very bad neighbourhood experiences of wood-burning. Pictures of smoky chimneys are too frequent, and, in all honesty, we would be complaining just as much if we had to live next to some of the chimneys in question. Undoubtably, there is a very real and present problem with the way that some people are burning their wood fuel which is something we rarely hear as most of the people we interact with at Charnwood HQ love their stoves. They find it has improved their health and well-being, keeps them warm and provides energy security – but we acknowledge that our experience on X has revealed there are others who have been very negatively affected by bad burning. 

So where does this leave us – what do we do? We are passionate about wood-burning heating, to us and to many it seems like common sense. It makes use of a local, natural and renewable fuel source that encourages the planting and managing of forests and woodland which is important for improving biodiversity (4). We make Charnwood stoves here on the Isle of Wight, we employ local people and one of our company objectives is to make a positive difference to the local community. Sustainability is a core driver in our business, and we continue to seek ways to minimise our environmental impact. We are confident of the many benefits of wood-burning, however, we are not oblivious to the downsides and burning anything can produce bad particles.  Although the improvements in burning technology have overall reduced wood smoke emissions significantly (1), if you have a neighbour who is burning badly, this is of little comfort.   

However, we do need to be realistic about energy solutions and apply common sense to each situation. There will not be a one-size-fits-all solution. Heat pumps are the solution being pushed by governments at the moment, but the uptake has been really poor. Where around one million gas boilers are fitted every year there were only around 60000 heat pumps sold last year (5). Despite the best efforts of governments, consumers have been reluctant to install them and many who have, are left disappointed. I was talking to a local heating engineer a couple of weeks ago and he was telling me how he now has customers asking him to remove their heat pumps and instead install a gas solution. In Germany, part of the success of the AFD has been its opposition to heat pumps (6). Although heat pumps can work very well, they have limitations and when policymakers ignore these genuine concerns and try to push a one-size-fits-all solution, we can see it backfire. But in the same way that we need to be careful about over-pushing one solution, we also need to be careful about restricting other solutions because of their perceived negatives. Should we ban electric cars and battery storage because the metals used often come from mines using child labour? (7). Should we ban solar panels because most are produced in China using Uygur forced labour and some of the chemicals used are toxic (8)? And should we ban all solid fuel burning because of the problems of emissions in some cases? All of these are valid questions which are likely to make us feel uncomfortable, and our lived experiences will determine our responses. But instead of banning things and reducing our energy security and flexibility, should we not mitigate the negatives so we can take advantage of the positives? 

All energy sources have upsides and downsides – are they low carbon? Are they emission-free at the point of generation? Are they emission-free at the point of use? Is the energy source sustainable? What about the manufacturing impact of the equipment? What about the recyclability of the equipment? In the UK we often congratulate ourselves on being well on our way to having sustainable energy, however as Sir Dieter Helm, Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford points out much of this has been because we have deindustrialised (9). For example, closing the steelworks at Port Talbot won’t mean that we consume less steel. It will just mean that the environmental and carbon impact of the steel we use gets moved to another country often with less human and environmental protections than our own. The same could be said for importing wood pellets from North America to power the Drax power stations – we still use and generate the carbon here, even if it is offset where the trees are grown. We need to use the ‘common sense’ test, and both of these examples fail miserably. 

Now more than ever, with so much instability in the world, we need a pragmatic and diverse energy mix that is resilient to future demands. We believe burning wood on modern wood-burning stoves is an overall small, but important part of this. By using logs from locally managed forests, and burning properly with locally made, long-lasting equipment which can be easily recycled at the end of its life, wood-burning stoves are one common sense solution for many situations. At Charnwood, we are investing in new technology which mitigates the negatives of wood-burning emissions. We have just launched the Skye E700 which uses electronic control to constantly monitor the fire and make automatic adjustments to ensure wood is always burnt cleanly and efficiently. The results are remarkable and build on the already large steps forward we have made in clean burning technology. What is more, wood burning compliments heat pumps very well. Whereas heat pumps struggle in cold weather, combining a heat pump with a stove works well and could increase heat pump uptake if encouraged. Indeed, in Norway, if a heat pump is installed a provision must be made for a flue to take a stove. 

So, let’s use our common sense as we think about heating. We are continuing to invest in new technology which will allow us to burn wood more cleanly and efficiently. We know it is sustainable and a brilliant solution for many situations that have suitable wood fuel available. As an industry, we need to continue making improvements in our appliances to ensure overall air quality improves, but we also need to work together with other stakeholders to ensure that local instances of bad burning are eradicated. This might mean tougher penalties, improved education and it may include a stove swap-out programme to replace old appliances with cleaner ones. It may also mean other things, but to do this we need positive and constructive engagement. Will we get criticism? Of course, we will, and we will expect it – just take a look at the comments below when we post this article on social media! Sustainability, the environment and air quality are important issues, so we welcome constructive debate and criticism, we want to see real improvements so this time we just might not respond to the mockers. Instead, our efforts will focus on innovation and development to overcome the challenges of wood-burning while further amplifying its many benefits. 

 

References: 

(1) https://naei.beis.gov.uk/data/data-selector-results?q=189517 

(2) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/22-04-11-Indoor-air-final-V5-AL.pdf 

(3) https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/environmental-research-group/London-Wood-Burning-Project-Report_final.pdf 

(4) https://www.smallwoods.org.uk/en/advice-and-information/the-economics-of/ 

(5) https://www.heatpumps.org.uk/statistics/ 

(6) https://www.politico.eu/article/robert-lambrou-alternative-for-germany-heat-pump-election-climate-change 

(7) https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/phone-electric-vehicle-congo-cobalt-mine-b2277665.html? 

(8) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-57124636 

(9) https://alastaircampbell.org/2024/04/69-the-brutal-truth-about-net-zero-and-how-to-vanquish-climate-populists-with-dieter-helm/ 

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Charmain Ponnuthurai’s next essay in their series explores Imagination, Play and Materiality.

“And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose to play” Exodus 32:6

What if, contrary to Charles Bradley’s song, ‘No Time for Dreaming,’ we do need to spend more time dreaming? Author Rob Hopkins of ‘From What is to What If’: Unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want’ and founder of Transition Towns, says that the decreasing trend in the use of our imagination is having a detrimental effect on our lives. It prevents, for instance, the ability to solve social inequality and address issues such as the climate crisis in any meaningful way. We have replaced idle time, a visit to the library, lighting a campfire, talking to a stranger, spending creative time in the kitchen or going for a walk with a constant plug to the device in our hands. The time lost in connecting to our imagination and ‘playing’ not only affects the future ahead of us, but is also contributing to the pandemic of loneliness and a feeling of disconnection between each other. Our access to finding an answer online, seems to be perpetuating a potential pandemic of ‘What is the meaning?’

So what can we do to reignite our imagination deficit? One possibility is through unstructured play. We all have memories of childhood games, but new research by The School of Life shows that they are an indication of what intrinsically holds interest for us as we grow into adulthood. We maintain that sense of play as we become adults, and researchers argue that it is this that makes us individual as a species. Our ability to be creative and come up with new innovations is what sets us apart from the animal world.

Is it just in the Western world that we have lost our sense of playfulness? Within the Thai language, a happy heart is described with an innate connection to playfulness. Translations include, literally, to be of a, ‘ blooming heart’, ‘being full in the food sense – in the heart’, ‘and invoke a sense of delight, joy and being lighthearted. How can we too reintroduce play into our otherwise so uncertain and responsibility laden adult lives?

One of the simplest ways is by looking around us at nature. There is, of course, an innate playfulness throughout the animal kingdom, you just have to throw a ball to a dog, to see the eager anticipation and the endless joy of the ball going back and forth. There is a playfulness to the way a squirrel stops in its tracks, looking around furtively as if we might think it invisible before darting off. On a brief lunchtime walk, I was pulled out of my thoughts by a child in a primary school, leaning through the gate and asking me my preferred footballer from a choice he gave me. This playful exchange conjured my imagination, and pulled my mind away from the thoughts and concerns of that day. This is an everyday occurrence for animals and children, who are so ready to play, not constricted by time or place. There is a kind of openness against the burden of efficiency to creating new pathways to think about something and maybe just smile!

Of course, as adults, we may receive some strange looks, if we engage in such acts as dancing down the street, or playing catch with dogs! But there are many other ways we can engage with our playfulness. One simple way is through food and cooking for others. If we aren’t regular cooks, this can seem like a task that we have to gear ourselves towards, but we can take some inspiration from Mary McCartney’s book ‘Feeding Creativity.’ In this book, she cooks with her interviewees and recounts playful, rather than perfectly choreographed, food scenes. In one particular example, with David and Catherine Bailey, she says “using Catherine’s electric hand whisk to whip the cream, it soon became a chaotic scene, I managed to flick cream all over myself and kitchen. So instead I resorted to my backup squirt can of whipped cream. The trifle looked perfect. We sat together, spoons in hand, and tucked in. It had been a while since we had spent time together, and it was a reminder of how much I enjoyed making this book. It’s been an opportunity to catch up with loved ones, even the grumpy ones I adore!”

Part of our ability to be playful is stored within objects that we might normally view as inanimate. Studies by psychologists say that, whilst objects are not human, they are part of a representation of the dialogue within the environments we inhabit. They contribute to our cognitive function. We might be able to consider this idea on a simpler level with the Thomas Heatherwick campaign on observing ‘How buildings make us feel’. Taking this to our interior environments, we can gauge a change in mood from the way a room is lit, or the glowing warmth of a fire after a long day, giving us, through the dancing flames, an opportunity to reflect, pause and simply be in the moment. In that moment, we are allowed to engage with our imagination and feel the playful joy of what surrounds us.

Another way of finding our imagination is through colour. Design Studio Raw Netherlands hosts the podcast ‘Conversations in Colour’, which always begins with the question, “If you were a colour, what colour would you be?’ Most answers relate to emotion, season, lighting, personal energy and geography. Undeniably the common thread is that colour brings you into a focussed moment, where the mind can be quieted for a moment. Through our Vlaze worktops and kitchen surfaces, we offer both a textural and colour palette that invites you to use the surfaces for simple acts such as kneading dough or chopping vegetables. We hope to bring a warmth of joy to your culinary adventures and inspire some time for everyday dreaming.

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1) Treehouses have such an interesting history as safe dwellings for tribes such as the Korwoaj in Papua New Guinea and as representations of freedom and beauty in the Renaissance gardens of the 16th Century. What do treehouses mean to you?

We see Treehouses as a magical escape from everyday life and a chance to tap into the inner child’s sense of adventure. Our Treehouses are in a beautiful and private location, surrounded by trees and nature and with no WIFI our guests can really switch off from the hustle and bustle; a real treat in this day and age.

2) Can you tell me a little about what inspires the interiors of your treehouses?

We wanted to give each Treehouse a unique character and feel. Integrating the landscape and views into this was paramount to the design; the huge windows and sympathetic timber cladding draw the landscape into the interior. Goldfinch with its botanical wallpapers and muted greens has a wonderful woodland feel. Chiffchaff has a more rustic bothy vibe and the Scandi chic, Wren, uses natural materials and textures throughout.

3) What inspired the names of your tree houses?

The birdlife around The Treehouses at both Leckie and Lanrick is spectacular so we took inspiration from some of the species that can be seen here. Our guests loving making use of the bird books to identify all the different birds.

4) The landscape of Perthshire is inescapably beautiful. How would you describe to to someone that has not visited what they may expect?

Despite being within an hour of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Stirlingshire and Perthshire feel incredible remote and wild with rolling hills and beautiful lochs and woodlands. The Trossachs National Park is stunning and right on our doorstep giving our guests the chance to explore the hills and lochs they are home to.

5) How important are the wood-burning stoves to the treehouse experience?

The wood burning stoves are an integral part of the treehouse experience. Being in Scotland, the weather can be less than desirable but having the wood burning stoves makes the treehouses not only incredibly cosy but also adds atmosphere.

In the winter months we always try and light the stoves before our guests arrive, it creates a beautifully warm and welcoming environment which instantly makes our guests feel at home.

 

You can find out more about these stunning Treehouses here.

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We at Charnwood appreciate the work Mums for Lungs does in advocating for clean air. We share their concern for healthy homes and the environment. However, some recent information they released on wood burning does not reflect the latest available data which shows significantly reduced emissions from advancements in wood-stove technology and responsible fuel practices. Let’s explore some key points raised in their leaflet: 

Air Quality Concerns: 

MfL Wood burning is a leading cause of PM2.5. Emissions of PM2.5 from domestic wood burning increased by 56% between 2012 and 2022, to represent 22% of overall PM2.5 emissions in 2022. This is more than all UK road transport exhausts (18%).” 

The term ‘domestic wood-burning’ continues to mislead.  The public understandably associates this catch all term most readily with wood-burning stoves – despite it being a combination of emissions including open fires, outdoor bonfires and old stoves. The actual contribution of modern wood-burning stoves is estimated by the UK government’s official figures at just 1-2%! (1)   

And when good fuel practices are undertaken this reduces even further. (2) 

As reported by the SIA “Last year…PM2.5 emissions from Ecodesign stoves burning dry wood fuel accounted for less than 0.1% of the UK total.” 

 MfL “There is no such thing as clean burning. The newest Ecodesign, Defra compliant stove emits six times more PM2.5 per hour than a Euro VI heavy goods vehicle.” 

This stat has repeatedly been shown to be flawed and has caused much unnecessary concern.   

Closer inspection reveals the data used to create this stat excludes brake and engine wear and in fact, just one Euro 6 HGV produces 13 times more PM2.5 emissions than an Ecodesign wood-burning stove over a week’s real-world use. Furthermore, emissions from HGVs are emitted at ground level (nearer head height) while wood smoke is dispersed more safely, higher up via a chimney flue.   

The SIA say, “ The claims are based on simplistic calculations using permitted rates of emission and do not consider either real world use or non-exhaust emissions. Furthermore, these permitted emissions rates rely on vastly differing measurement protocols and techniques. It should also be noted that there are several unreferenced assumptions, and the report does not appear to have been independently peer reviewed.” (3) 

It is fair to say that a 90% reduction in emissions, which is what modern wood-burning stoves offer, is clean burning. With 70% of wood burning in London taking place on open fires, modern stoves could reduce those emissions by 90% and that would certainly clean up the air dramatically! 

Furthermore, it is important and pragmatic to say that the reality is there is no pure way to keep warm. Every heating solution, from gas and electric to wind, solar, heat pumps and nuclear involves tradeoffs and compromises. The key is to optomise these solutions and use them intelligently together to provide us with greater energy security and wellbeing. Read about wood-burning stoves co-heating future here. 

Costs: 

MfL “Wood burning is costly…” 

Prices of all types of fuel constantly fluctuate and are dependant on many factors including availability and how much you buy. Wood is consistently one of the cheapest fuel sources available and as recently as 18 months ago was widely considered the cheapest fuel source! (4) What is constant is that wood is the only fuel source that you can collect yourself for FREE and is not subject to spiking due to global crises in the way that gas and electricity is. It also provides energy independence and security from outages caused by various factors from storms to supply issues.  

Environmental Impact: 

MfL  “Wood burning is not a climate friendly way of heating a home. Burning wood releases more greenhouse gases than gas, oil or coal for the same amount of heat.” 

Wood is a renewable fuel source compared with fossil fuels that take millions of years to produce. Additionally, acquiring the remaining fossil fuel supply requires increasingly destructive methods such as fracking and deep-sea oil drilling. Wood fuel, on the other hand, can be sourced locally and in harmony with the environment.   

Sustainably harvested wood fuel can absolutely be considered climate-friendly because trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, offsetting the emissions released when burned. However, we acknowledge that responsible forest management and efficient burning practices are crucial to ensure true sustainability.  

MfL  “Leaving trees to grow and mature creates forests which capture more carbon and sustain a richer variety of species” 

Managing woodland is vital for healthy forests and increasing biodiversity. Coppicing is an ancient woodland management technique dating back to the stone age used to ensure regular supply of timber and firewood and improve forest health. It involves felling trees at their base to create a ‘stool’ where new shoots will grow. Coppicing today is often used as a way of improving the health and biodiversity of a woodland area by opening it up to the sunlight and allowing a wider range of plants to flourish. 

The National Trust say “Today, we use it at many of the places we care for to create a range of habitats for plants and wildlife – dramatically increasing the diversity of species that thrive in these areas.” (5) 

According to the Woodland Trust’s 2021 report (6), the UK’s woodland cover has more than doubled in the last 100 years, reaching 13.1% of the total land area and forest coverage is set to continue increasing which provides a host of benefits, including:  

Carbon Sequestration: Wood absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows. When wood is burned responsibly, a closed-loop carbon cycle can be created with the carbon dioxide released being reabsorbed by new trees.  

Biodiversity Enhancement: Woodlands are the habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, including many insects and birds. When done sustainably, harvesting wood encourages new growth and benefits biodiversity.  

Local Jobs: Wood fuel production and distribution creates jobs and supports economies in rural areas. This is crucial for maintaining the vibrancy of local communities who in turn invest in looking after their woodland areas. 

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We understand concerns about PM2.5 and we want to continue playing a key role in improving air quality. Modern wood-burning stoves are NOT the problem and the latest data shows that they can in fact massively improve air quality. 

We would encourage everyone to come together to focus on the real issues that can make a genuine difference. Let’s encourage people to reduce bonfires, switch from open fires to modern wood-burning stoves, and burn wood responsibly and efficiently. This would make a huge difference while protecting our energy security.  

Remember there is no 100% clean technology. Every heating source has its positives and negatives. Modern wood-burning maximises the many positives while drastically reducing the negatives. 

For those open to working together to ensure the cleanest possible air for everyone, please read our blog: Shared Goals, Cleaner Air: Reimagining The Wood Burning Debate With Healthy Dialogue & Believing The Best In Each Other 

 

References: 

(1) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/domestic-indoor-wood-burning-emissions-significantly-lower-than-previously-thought/ 

(2) https://www.charnwood.com/news/sia-report-wood-burning-emissions-decrease-despite-record-year-for-stove-sales/ 

(3) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/sia-responds-to-wood-burning-stove-and-hgv-emission-comparison/ 

(4) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/wood-fuel-now-the-cheapest-domestic-heating-fuel/ 

(5) https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/discover/nature/trees-plants/what-is-coppicing 

(6) https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/media/51705/state-of-the-uks-woods-and-trees-2021-thewoodlandtrust.pdf 

charnwoodstoves

Fire has captivated humans since the dawn of our existence, becoming a cornerstone of human progress, shaping technologies, and our societies. Its warmth is life-preserving and life-affirming, offering not just physical comfort, but also a sense of togetherness and well-being. It’s a symbol of community, a gathering point for storytelling and shared experiences.  

Read on to learn more about the origins of fire and why it continues to captivate us 

Fire’s role in human development 

The earliest evidence of fire use dates back hundreds of thousands of years and was more than just a source of warmth – it was a catalyst for change. Firelight lengthened the usable hours of the day, allowing early humans to venture out of the darkness and push back against nocturnal predators. More importantly, it unlocked a treasure trove of possibilities: 

Cooking 

Raw meat became cooked meat, a transformation that improved digestion and unlocked new nutrient sources. Where as 100% of a cooked meal is metabolised by the body, raw foods yield just 30 or 40 percent of their nutrients. Cooking is believed to have played a crucial role in the development of larger brains, a hallmark of early human evolution. 

Crafting tools 

Fire’s transformative power also extended to shaping our tools. Wood, hardened by fire, became more durable for crafting spears and other hunting implements. Fire also allowed early humans to work with metals, leading to the creation of even stronger tools and weapons, which further advanced their ability to hunt and acquire resources. 

Bricks and pottery 

Fire transformed clay into sturdy bricks and functional pottery revolutionising construction and food storage. These innovations laid the groundwork for permanent settlements and the rise of early civilisations. 

Fire: The heart of the community 

Beyond practical applications, fire has woven itself into the fabric of human culture. The flickering flames became the focal point for gatherings, fostering a sense of community and shared experience. Stories were told, traditions were passed down, and social bonds were strengthened around the warmth of the fire. Studies have shown how hearth and campfires can influence arterial blood pressure and defray the costs of the social brain through fireside relaxation. 

Fire also held a profound symbolic meaning across cultures. For some, it represented purification and transformation while for others, it acted as a bridge between the physical and spiritual realms. It was both an awe-inspiring and comforting force and a constant presence in the lives of our ancestors. 

Balancing fire with progress 

In the modern world, our relationship with fire has become somewhat more complex. Air pollution concerns associated with open fires and older, inefficient wood-burning stoves, have come to the forefront and gained a lot of press.  

While alternative heating methods have emerged, and environmental awareness has rightly grown, the desire for the unique warmth and ambiance of a fire remains deeply ingrained in us. Fortunately, innovation has not abandoned fire. Modern technology offers solutions that allow us to enjoy the benefits of fire while minimising any negative impacts. 

Ecodesign compliant wood burning stoves 

Modern Eco Design wood-burning stoves significantly lower emissions compared to their predecessors – up to 90% compared with an open fire! They optimise efficiency and dramatically reduce smoke and particulate matter released into the atmosphere. 

In fact, it has been found that burning dry wood (e.g. Ready to Burn certified) in a Ecodesign compliant stove (e.g. clearSkies certified) makes up just 0.09% of total UK PM2.5 emissions. Source: NAEI.  

Clearskies 5 stoves 

Even better are ClearSkies 5 Stoves which are 30% more efficient than Ecodesign. In fact, in a recent study conducted by Imperial College London a ClearSkies 5 stove was shown to improve air quality in the home, even when refueling.   

As the UKs leading wood-stove manufacturer we are continuing to develop the technology and know we can improve efficiency even further still! 

Sustainable forestry practices 

Responsible forestry practices ensure that trees harvested for fuel are replaced, maintaining a carbon-neutral cycle. Locally sourced wood fuel helps support small businesses and reduces the carbon footprint of fuel transport. 

Wood fuel is an important component of the woodland management cycle and plays a key role in maintaining woodland diversity, health and resilience. Choosing wood from well-managed woodlands allows you to enjoy the warmth of fire with peace of mind. 

Renewable energy sources 

While fire continues to play a role in our lives, renewable energy alternatives like wind, solar, and geothermal power play an increasingly crucial role in meeting society’s energy demands. However, we strongly believe in wood-burning stoves co-heating future, which involves filling in inevitable gaps in supply, aiding the transition to renewables and providing energy security in an uncertain world. Read more here: 

https://www.charnwood.com/news/wood-burning-stoves-co-heating-future-a-nuanced-look-at-pm-25-emissions/ 

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 Fire has been a constant companion throughout our journey as a species. At Charnwood, we believe that fire, when harnessed responsibly, can continue to be a source of comfort and progress. By embracing cleaner burning technologies, burning wood correctly and supporting sustainable forestry practices we can ensure that we continue to benefit from the power and life affirming magic of fire. 

charnwoodstoves

We’re thrilled to report back on another successful show at Progetto Fuoco, one of Europe’s if not the world’s most important biomass heating fairs. This year’s event took place from February 28th to March 2nd, and was held in Verona, Italy. There was a huge turnout and a renewed sense of optimism within the biomass heating sector.

Our team, alongside our fantastic Italian partners Zetalinea, were delighted to showcase our full range of products to an enthusiastic audience. This included our popular Bodj fireplace accessories, the ever-reliable and beautiful Vlaze heat shields and hearth plates, and of course, our impressive selection of British made wood-burning stoves!

The Charnwood Skye E700 EU Debut

 

This year’s star attraction was undoubtedly the debut of our brand-new Skye E700 wood burning stove, which wowed attendees. The Skye E700 is a new intelligent micro processor controlled stove set to revolutionize the way we burn wood. Load the fire, close the door, set your room temperature using the Charnwood app and let the stove do the rest. Maximising efficiency is now as simple as that – we can’t wait to see how this game-changer impacts the industry! 

High efficiency heating & cooking  

 

The Haven, Charnwood’s newest cook-stove also received considerable interest, attracting visitors with its stylish looks and impressive 90% efficiency rating. This translates to a coveted 5-star rating in the Italian market, solidifying the Haven as one of the cleanest burning and most efficient models available today. 

Combining the charm and functionality of a traditional range with the very latest efficiencies and clean burn technology the Haven features an oven, hot plate and a large glass window for a beautiful view of the fire. The integrated thermometer allows for greater temperature control and cooking accuracy. It offers a surprisingly versatile and delicious way of cooking, allowing you to create soups, roasts, cakes, bakes and more! 

Enhancing your fireplace with style and safety 

 

Beyond the impressive stoves themselves, on display were a range of complementary products to elevate your fireplace experience. Among these were the stunning Vlaze heat shields and hearth plates, designed and crafted in Britain by our very own A.J. Wells & Sons.  

Vlaze boasts a luxurious, porcelain enamel surface that comes in a variety of designer finishes and sizes. This exceptional material is not only beautiful but also incredibly durable, withstanding extreme heat to safeguard your home. Vlaze is the original and best wood burning stove heat shield and the perfect Charnwood pairing. 

Bodj fireside 

 
Bodj fireside accessories are handmade, sustainably sourced, and beautifully designed for the ethical and style-conscious home. The Lotus log holder (pictured above) is based on the petals of a Lotus flower. This sculptural log holder is both stylish and ergonomic. The ironwork frame is tightly woven with rattan and is ideal for logs and kindling. It goes so well with your Charnwood stove! 

A huge thank you 

Finally, we want to thank everyone who visited our stand throughout the event. Your enthusiasm and interest in our products continue to inspire us.  A special thanks goes out to the Progetto Fuoco team and to our partners Zeta Linea for their continued collaboration and support. We can’t wait to do it all again with you!  

Don’t forget to check out the video from the event

Progetto Fuoco 2024 from AJ Wells & Sons Ltd on Vimeo.

 

charnwoodstoves

In my charming but chilly Victorian end of terrace, winters were not something I particularly looked forward to. It was a constant battle against drafts, and strategising when to crank up the central heating to get most bang for the buck. So, after two cold dreary winters I decided something had to change – it was time to invest in a wood burning stove! 

Read on to learn how I turned chilly evenings into toasty nights by the fire 

I moved into my home 2 and half years ago now and in the centre of the main living space a large open fire place was sealed off and not being used. Mould was an ever present issue during the winters as the home was designed to have the heat and airflow created by a working fire. Whilst the gas central heating works, it is expensive and never gets the house feeling truly warm and doesn’t contribute to ventilation. 

I didn’t want an open fire as I knew well enough that they weren’t very efficient and I am not a fan of a smokey living space. So, I feel the stars aligned when I started working at A.J Wells & Sons and I was finally presented with the perfect solution – one of their Charnwood wood-burning stoves!  

As I researched, learning about Ecodesign and different outputs I was happy to discover that all Charnwood stoves outperform those standards offering greater efficiency and even lower emissions. Therefore I felt I could choose based on what would look best in the space which in my opinion was the Charnwood Country 4 Blu. It’s a classic looking design, the perfect size, and I was told one of the easiest stoves to use – I was sold! 

I arranged for my installers to visit to measure up and assess my fireplace and chimney. They were intrigued by my slightly unusual fireplace which is open from two sides – a modification made by a previous owner no doubt. They assured me all would be well and we arranged a day for installation. Quick tip, stove installers are, unsurprisingly, incredibly busy in the autumn/winter months so it is well worth planning ahead and locking in your install date as soon as possible. 

Installation day arrived, and the folks from Stoveteciw were fantastic. They set about first installing the chimney register plate which seals the large chimney opening and is where the flue from the stove can attach to create a seal. Next thing I knew they were up on the roof and threading the chimney flue liner down the chimney to attach to the register plate.  

I chose a rear flue adapter for two reasons. It allowed me to place the stove where I wanted in the fireplace, but also it allowed a Charnwood cooking plate which was installed at the same time. As my confidence grows I’m going to be experimenting with a bit of stovetop cooking and whipping up some winter warmers. At the very least, boiling water for a cup of tea on a chilly morning is easy and way more atmospheric than the kettle. 

After some final tinkering and fine tuning the stove was in place and the room was transformed. A focal point where there once wasn’t any. This wasn’t just any appliance; it was a promise of warmth, comfort and good times – all in less than a day.  

It was a fantastic effort from the guys and it was clear they had done an expert job and left the place cleaner than they started! I strongly recommend using a HETAS registered installer to ensure the job is done properly and to get a HETAS safety certificate. This can be important for insurance purposes and is also useful if you ever want to sell your house. 

I’d already purchased my bags of Kiln dried wood (read why that’s important here!), fire lighters and kindling in preparation for this moment and I was ready to go! I checked the stove essentials pamphlet that comes with all Charnwood stoves (also available online), to remind myself of the best way to light the fire. 

Then came the moment of truth – lighting the first fire. Now, as with most household appliances with heating elements, the first time lighting your stove can create a slight smell, but that quickly passes and then your stove is fully cured and ready to be enjoyed. Following the top down, Jenga stacking method meant I had crackling flames and radiating warmth in no time – pure magic!  

I’m now enjoying the end of the cold weather and far from dreading next winter. In fact, I think I’m going to miss the fire for a few months. It has become my go to way to unwind in the evening and the best way to put down the phone/laptop and let my mind decompress and relax away from a screen. I now fully understand what other wood-stove owners were saying when they described the many ways owning and using a wood-stove enhanced their wellbeing. 

My final thoughts to those of you interested in a stove, I’d say, of course, do your research, speak to a Charnwood registered dealer/installer for advice on what your space needs and plan well in advance for next winter. Your future self will thank you! 

P.s Oh and don’t forget to register for Charnwood’s amazing 10 year guarantee! 

charnwoodstoves

We are proud to amplify the Stove Industry Association (SIA) and their excellent article that highlights the many benefits of having a modern wood stove in the home. We encourage you to visit the SIA website to read the full article and learn more about the SIA’s valuable work. 

Here, we will look at some of the key takeaways!   

General benefits & wellbeing 

Modern sustainable wood-burning stoves offer a low-emission and highly efficient way to heat your home. When used correctly, they contribute to a reduced carbon footprint while warming your main living space with ease. This gentle radiant heat extends throughout your property, creating a consistently comfortable living environment. 

A real fire can help promote feelings of warmth and security and provides a focal point for the whole family,  benefiting mental wellbeing.  

Read more about the well-being benefits here  

Anti-mould and damp 

They’re highly effective at heating your space which combats drafts and cold spots, creating a consistently warm environment. Additionally, they help circulate air and ventilate your property, helping reduce condensation and moisture buildup, a common issue in older homes.  

A roaring stove typically draws air and moisture from the room it’s in, before evaporating and expelling it through the chimney system. This can help alleviate the formation of mold and damp, creating a healthier and more comfortable living space. 

Fuel security & independence 

A wood-burning stove provides independence from the grid, ensuring you can heat your home even during power cuts. And unlike fluctuating mains energy bills, with a pre-purchased fuel supply, you gain control and cost-efficiency, knowing exactly what you’re using/paying to stay warm. 

Read more about best-wood stove practices to save you money and reduce emissions!  

The SIAs key facts on PM & Carbon Emissions 

“There is a world of difference between an open fire and a modern stove designed for precision combustion and maximum efficiency. Switching from an open fire to a modern stove will reduce PM emissions by up to 90%.”  

“Scaremongering tactics about “domestic combustion” as a whole are unhelpful. Modern Ecodesign compliant stoves burning dry wood make up a tiny fraction of UK particulate matter emissions – less than 0.1% in fact. Source: NAEI 

“Using dry wood fuel is both sustainable and renewable; wood logs have the lowest carbon emissions factor of any domestic heating fuel at 0.01 kg CO2e per kWh. That’s 1/20th the carbon emissions of natural gas or electricity and 1/29th that of oil. Source: gov.uk 

“Burning dry wood (e.g. Ready to Burn certified) in a Ecodesign compliant stove (e.g. clearSkies certified) makes up just 0.09% of total UK PM2.5 emissions. Source: NAEI. Take care when choosing your appliance and your fuel to ensure that you minimise emissions and maximise efficiency.” 

Read more here: https://www.charnwood.com/news/smoke-and-mirrors-exposing-the-flawed-data-behind-the-war-on-wood-stoves/  

Biodiversity & the wood fuel industry  

 

Choosing locally sourced wood fuel supports small businesses, reduces transportation emissions, and contributes to the health of our woodlands. 

Sustainable wood management is crucial for maintaining their health and diversity, while helping reduce wildfires and providing a vital habitat for wildlife. By choosing responsibly sourced fuel, you can contribute to a more resilient ecosystem. 

“Unmanaged woodland is bad for wildlife. At present 42% of UK woodland is unmanaged. Source: Small Woods Association 

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These are just some of the many reasons to consider getting a wood burning stove. For even more reasons, check out this article here. However, if you’ve heard enough you can click here for help choosing the right stove for your home.