Do you favour an open fire or a log burning stove? If so, are you aware of a new ‘cleaner air’ law in England, banning the most polluting home fuels, namely wet wood and certain types of coal?

You need to be able to trust your solid fuel supplier to be on the case – and customers of Seal Fuels Ltd in Bridgnorth certainly need have no worries on that score.

The longstanding family company is fully on top of the Ready to Burn legislation. All stocks of coal and wood meet the required standards and vastly experienced owner Richard Mansell is always happy to advise customers about the products.

Ready to Burn wood has been certified by Woodsure – a non-profit organisation – for immediate use. Its moisture content of less than 20% means it burns better, with less smoke than wetter wood. In turn, this helps improve air quality.

The new law also means manufactured solid fuels must meet certain standards to be listed as Ready to Burn, certified by HETAS, a non-profit organisation appointed by Defra.

Richard says, “It is a big challenge for the industry but one that we are on top of. We’ve made the necessary changes so that our customers can trust that we are working fully within the new legislation.”

As well as coal and logs, Seal sells kindling, firelighters and various accessories. Autumn and winter are the busiest times, with spring and summer revenue driven by sales of bottled gas to Bridgnorth’s many tourists.

The firm was founded by Richard’s grandfather in 1925, across the road from its present location of Station Lane, next to Severn Valley Railway. Richard took over from his dad Derek in 2002. “I carried my first bag of coal when I was 14,” he recalls.

“We’ve made the necessary changes so that our customers can trust that we are working fully within the new legislation.”

He went off in search of adventure in his 20s, spending a couple of years working in casinos on mini cruises in Ukraine, where he met wife Tracy.

“I went all the way to Ukraine to meet a girl from Wales,” he says with a broad smile.

He returned to Bridgnorth and helped the family business to grow and thrive as competitors disappeared.

“At one time there were probably 14 or 15 coal merchants in Bridgnorth alone and thousands in the country. Central heating and gas and electric fires put paid to that. There are probably only 500 approved coal merchants left in Britain. Thankfully there are enough people around who still like a real fire.”

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