21 Apr 2022

An Ingenious Idea for a Victorian Coal Chute

At times when every available space in the home matters, making the most of the room you have is a must for everyone. When going down is easier than a loft conversion, a basement or cellar can be a great way to increase the space and value of your home.


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While a basement can be a clever way to add an extra room or two, it can be dark and feel a little cosy for some. This is why it’s so important to have the right lighting, both natural and artificial. Where natural light is possible, getting that light to every corner of the room can be a challenge, and there are many options available, each with its own character.

Brett Harding bought one of the lovely old properties that line the winding streets of Quorn, Leicestershire, intending to renovate and modernise the property completely. As the builders got started, they found an old cellar with a coal chute. Brett saw this as an amazing opportunity to not only make a characterful feature of his cellar but also a light source to flood the whole of the room with light.

The challenge

Coal cellars are great for storing coal, but they can be dark spaces without natural light, and they certainly weren’t designed for living in, even in Victorian times. To make the cellar habitable and comfortable for everyday living, it needed natural light, and a rooflight was the obvious answer.

Having previously been filled with concrete, Brett knew there were lots of hidden potentials, not just with extra space but also the chance to add an extra quirk to a historic building by making the most of the coal chute.

But this chute was surrounded by a brick wall, and the rooflight needed to be made to fit the exact measurements as well as abut the brick wall. Wanting to make the most of the light available, Brett wanted a glazing option with the frame on the outside and minimal intrusion on the light coming in.

Designed to enable natural light to flow into the inner areas of a house that can be left dark when an extension is added, Roof Maker’s new Abutment Rooflight can be installed seamlessly against walls at a pitch of 5º to 15º – eliminating the requirement for a gap between the wall and rooflight.

Roof Maker’s unique patented cushioning technology moulds into the crevices of walls that may have small imperfections or rough textures, significantly reducing the risk of water ingress. The Abutment Rooflight is the ideal solution for period properties that have aged or imperfect finishes to the brickwork, which previously proved difficult for contractors to achieve a perfect installation.

The rooflight can be made to measure the exact dimensions of the aperture, which means that Brett could maximise the amount of precious natural light coming into the cellar. The abutment feature of the rooflight suggested that the rooflight can sit right up to the wall, without the need for the usual half-metre gap between the wall and the rooflight.

The result

The result is one very happy teenage daughter with her basement bedroom, with warming sunlight shining in rather than a dark corner of the cellar. A gloomy cellar turned into a lovely, practical room. To further modernise the space, Brett and his daughter have surrounded the room with coloured LED lights, which can be seen from the street and has become the talk of the village as they emit a multi-coloured glow long into the night. Even on an overcast day, there’s an abundance of sunlight beaming into the room, and a crisp white coat of paint around the chute well helps to draw the light down the old coal chute and into the room.

The verdict

The Abutment Rooflight has transformed the space for Brett and gives his family a new room that adds a distinctive statement and story to the property – keeping a unique piece of history for the building and adding to its character.

Thanks to a neat wall around the exterior of the rooflight and the tunnel of light, Brett’s daughter benefits from natural light while she’s studying for her exams in the peace and privacy of her own space. Brett said: “I think it was one of the best things I did. It’s definitely added a lot of value to the property, and it’s made a real difference to the house.”

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