Expanding chimney breast opening - advice needed

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Hi,

Looking for a bit of advice regarding chimney breast opening.

We are wanting to expand the chimney breast opening by approx 10cm each side (width). This means the following:
- adding acrow props + strongbow
- replacing lintel with bigger one
- knocking out bricks at the sides for 10cm expansions each side.

My question is whether we are allowed to knock out these, what I assume are gatherer bricks?? Basically can we hollow out the opening or do they have to remain as they are? In which case I might plasterboard around them

If anyone sees any other problems then more than welcome to comment

(This won't be used for real fire or much anything else so chimney flue isn't important for us)

Thanks
 

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You can but you may need to support the corbelled gather bricks using little w shaped lintels bearing onto the new lintel, see pic of one I did a while back
 

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How old is the house? Looks to me like that fireplace may possibly have been reduced in size in the past. You could remove all the plaster on the wall above and see what you actually have there.
 
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How old is the house? Looks to me like that fireplace may possibly have been reduced in size in the past. You could remove all the plaster on the wall above and see what you actually have there.

It is we think 1950-60s approx. First documents appear at that time.

The flue goes up and right. I'm afraid that the left side may be hollow and the real jamb is what we see now. Might leave it like it is since ita for decorative purposes anyway. Probably just going to plasterboard everything to make it look neat.
 
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A narrow fireplace centrally in a wide breast does suggest it may have been narrowed? presume this is ground floor? Just a thought, because so many wide fireplaces in older houses, that would originally have had a range, have been narrowed. However, maybe not as late as 50-60's
 
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A narrow fireplace centrally in a wide breast does suggest it may have been narrowed? presume this is ground floor? Just a thought, because so many wide fireplaces in older houses, that would originally have had a range, have been narrowed. However, maybe not as late as 50-60's
Yep all ground floor, initially it looked too neat for me too to consider it the original builders opening. But the gather caught me of guard with it being so low. Also soot on left side.
 
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