By John Grainger, Property editor
We’re getting to that time of year again, when open fires take centre stage again.
They can have chestnuts roasting on them, stockings hanging around them, or ruddy-faced, white-bearded men falling into them in a cloud of soot.
Mostly, though, they just bring a room to life with a kind of magic that gas fires and radiators can never match.
Yet despite their cosy, soulful character, open fires have been on the wane for decades.
One reason for this is the Clean Air Acts (see box), which were intended to put an end to occasionally lethal smog (a combination of smoke and fog), and allowed local authorities to designate parts of their district as Smoke Control Areas (SCAs). The law says that within SCAs, only authorised fuels may be burned, such as “anthracite, coke and other carbonised fuels”. In other words, no coal and no wood (it says nothing about chestnuts).
The maximum penalty for acquiring an “unauthorised fuel” for use in an SCA is currently £1,000 for each offence.
Which is bad news for people living in Sherburn-in-Elmet or the parts of Tockwith closest to the airfield, as they fall within SCAs.
SCAs also cover the whole of north, west and central Harrogate, although the southern parts of Rossett and everything south and east of the Stray are unaffected.
SCA legislation is rarely enforced these days – smog isn’t a problem any more – but the laws are still in place, so it’s as well to take them into account when choosing a property.
The following four homes all have “real” fires and none of them is within an SCA.
Manor House Farm at Brearton is a three-bedroom house with a one-bedroom byre-conversion annexe. It has 1.289 acres of land and previously its stable block had planning permission to convert to a two-bedroom cottage, while its field shelter had planning consent to convert to stables and tack room.
It has open fireplaces in most rooms, and an inglenook fireplace in the sitting room.
Field House is a rarity in that it was only built in 1996 and yet has a large inglenook fireplace with open fire and hood.
The house has six bedrooms, and all the reception rooms and the master bedroom are linked to a central sound system.
There are also gardens, a fish-pond, sun-terrace with raised hot tub, a paddock and a double garage.
Number 24 Wheatlands Road is a six-bedroom semi-detached house just off Leeds Road in Harrogate. It is somewhat older than Field House and has a wealth of original features, including open period fireplaces in the reception rooms. It is not in one of the town’s SCAs.
It also has mature gardens and a single attached garage.
Finally, the White House at Markington is a five-bedroom house, believed to date back in part to the 18th century.
It too has period features, including leaded windows, exposed beams and panelled internal doors, but could benefit from some modernisation.
Outside, there is a double garage, outhouses, a courtyard garden to the rear and walled west-facing garden to the front.
And, as if to promise a warm welcome to any buyer, it also has “real” fires – either open or woodburner – in all four of the reception rooms.