Rebuilding the Fireplace

By Andy the stuff doer

Restoring a fire place in our Whitby cottage to a previous opening. Involving rebuilding a Victorian brick arch.

The full and technical pages are here but in brief:

After a few hours carefully removing cement render with a hand chisel and then getting frustrated with the slow progress and resorting to power, we could see the previous incarnartions of the fireplace.  After some time mulling over the possibilities we decided to reinstate the Victorian arch where a range would have been fitted so we can instal a multi-fuel stove.  The brickwork was in very poor condition and needed a considerable amount of rebuilding.   I had to rebuild one side and the arch, with careful consideration to the fact that the rest of chimney was above it.  For the full details have a look at the Fireplace arch rebuilding pages on the website.  And I’m sure the “Other Half” will let you know about the kind of distruption this kind of job entails.  

We welcome any comments or questions, “Leave a Response / Comments”  below.

Fireplace to start with

Before - this is what we had to start with


fireplace knocked out and rebuilt

After- Knocked out and rebuilt


14 Responses to “Rebuilding the Fireplace”

  1. Woa, I really like that change. Incredible how rustic it looks after you knocked out the stone. I think that you’re able to make a really great fireplace with that wall as it is now.

  2. Thanks Mike, It does look so much better. With the stove it it’ll be perfect.

  3. I’m glad you got that old gas fire out of there, did you mange to get the new multi fuel stove in?

  4. Hi Ethan, It certainly was a dangerous eysore. The new stove isn’t in yet but the chimney stack is all fixed and liners are in. Other things have cropped up to slow down progress but now we’ve got a new roof and fixed floors the day is getting closer.

  5. Deborah Hanson on June 20th, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Hi what sort of fireplace would have been put originally under a victorian bricked archway

  6. Hi Deborah, Cast iron inserts, surrounds and fire backs were all the rage for most rooms and of course a range cooker in the kitchen. There are plenty available reclaimed and replicas are available. A search for “Victorian Cast Irom Fire place” should give you an idea of what is available.

  7. Hi,

    First of all – thank you for all the pictures and information you have put online – it makes a great read.

    We’ve recently bought an 1880s Victorian 3-bed semi and it needs a lot of updating.

    One aspect is the fireplace which is turning out to be a job much like yours – but our opening is a little bigger where we assume an old range used to sit.

    About 1 inch of brick on both internal walls has been chipped away to create more width (for whatever reason) so these bricks need to be covered up.

    At this stage our thoughts are turning to how to coat or line the inside of the opening.

    Do you have any pictures of how you finished yours?


    Whitehead Wanderer

  8. Hi, Our fireplace in cottage will be “as is” for us that means brick sides and stone at the back. As you need to cover up the chipped bricks so the options range from rendering to heat resistant boarding to tiling of some sort.

    You can see on the picture here I tiled the back of this one with slate, I actually squared up some old roof slates to make my own tiles.

    If you are rendering or plastering the amount of heat it will be exposed to needs to be considered. Special Heat resistant plaster is available but expensive. If you are fitting stove in the opening normal plaster or cement render should be ok for the sides but maybe not right behind and close to the stove.

    Hope this gives you some ideas.

  9. Hi Andy,
    I enjoyed reading your post about brick chimney arches with steel bars. I have recently moved into a federation house ( c 1910 ) that has a brick arched fireplace in the kitchen. The previous owner kept their cooker in it. The problem I have found with this is that it’s difficult to see what you’re cooking on the stove as the arch is too low.

    Is it at all possible to increase the height of the arch so it may be 30cm higher for instance? Keeping the same degree of the arch, just literally moving the arch bar 30cm higher.

    Who would I contact to deal with that?


  10. Hi Chantel,

    Apologies for the late reply, I’m getting so much spam I sometimes miss the genuine comments.

    Yes it is possible to raise the arch. A good builder will be able to take a look and see exactly what would work for your situation. Pra bly supporting the brickwork above with an acro prop then moving everything up. Rebuilding an arch isn’t difficult but the “modern” quicker way would be to put in a reinforced concrete lintel. The hardest part if you are not doing it yourself would be finding a builder / bricklayer who is prepared to do it the old way.

    All the best

  11. Phil 40 Tallon on June 13th, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Hi just restoring my fireplace . I have unearthed a solid stone line with brick pillars below. Stone back. And stone work above fireplace on the breast. What is best way to clean up bricks that are covered in plaster. Also reclaimed all he old bricks and plan to cover the stone back of fire place with brick to Match the brick pillars. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Cheers

  12. Hi Phil, so late in replying you have probably got it sorted know (genuine comments are getting lost in all the spam)
    Cleaning bricks, wire brush, brick cleaning acid if it’s tough should help. Painstaking work to get it all of without damaging the bricks, then no doubt it’ll need repointing.


  13. Andy, Hi

    I realise that this might not be read or read soon.

    We are just up the coast from you. House 1700’s and something. Your fireplace looked like ours does now except our arch contains vertical bricks and is at 1.6m height. It has 2 outside brick skins that are only one brick width. A couple of severe cracks above the arch too. Its a project. This post of yours has given me the confidence to take this on and removing just a couple of bricks every few evenings. Filling in the “I”‘s, etc. Thank you. Please drop me an email if you could, I would love to chat. Roy, Redcar.

  14. Hi Roy, Only just seen your comment in all the spam, hope it worked out for you.

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