Chimneys & Roofs: The Record Breakers!

If you've ever flicked through The Guinness Book of World Records, then you'll know that there are records related to just about everything you can imagine! A couple of months ago, the Greengates blog featured an article all about record-breaking floors; the largest, the most numerous and even the highest number of people sweeping one at the same time!

You can check out this fun article in our blog archive but first we're going to take you on another journey into the wild, wonderful and sometimes just-plain-weird record books. This time, we're going right to the opposite end of the scale as we move all the way up from floors and find ourselves in the elevated world of roofs and chimneys...

World's Longest Single-Span Roof Structure
We don't have to travel too far to find the location of our first world record as it is right here in good old Blighty! The longest unsupported roof structure in the world is the steel arch that holds up the North Stand's roof at Wembley Stadium. Weighing in at 1,750 tonnes, the arch has a span of 315 metres.

World's Largest Living Roof
The concept of a 'living' roof is one that you're probably going to hear a lot more about in the coming years as the world collectively tries to establish more sustainable ways of doing things. With a massive area of 42,180 square metres, which is entirely covered with a thick mat of sedum plants, the roof of the Ford Motor Company's Rouge factory in Michigan holds this record. As well as insulating the entire building and thus delivering vast energy savings, the vegetation also provides a habitat for all kinds of wildlife from butterflies to birds.

Most People Breaking Roof Tiles Simultaneously
As so often happens when browsing through world records, we move swiftly and indeed seamlessly from the absolutely sublime to the totally ridiculous. An unbelievable 279 people spent a noisy few minutes smashing up perfectly good roof tiles to set this wacky record in October of 2023. All of the tile-smashers were members of the Japanese Entrepreneur's Organisation who were in attendance at an event called 'Discover Okinawa. The event was created for participants to 'learn about the history and culture of the city of Okinawa' but we're not really sure how breaking roof tiles fits into that!

World's Tallest Chimney
Standing at a height of 420 metres, which is higher than the One World Trade Center building in New York, the tallest chimney in the world is located at a coal-fired power plant in Kazakhstan. The towering structure has held this record since it was completed over 25 years ago in 1987.

World's Tallest Structures Built by Animals
The previous record is a testament to human ingenuity and skill. We're sorry to have to tell you this but all of that glory is about to be taken away from our species by... wait for it... insects. The building skills of termites (those of the 'Nasutitermes triodiae', to be precise) have earned them a place in the record books as the creators of the tallest structures built by any type of animal. 

Working collectively, these tiny creatures build mounds that can reach up to eight metres in height, leading to them being given the colloquial name of 'cathedral termites'. The highest part of the mounds are the chimneys, which ventilate the entire mound and keep the termites cool; this clever engineering is essential to their survival in the scorching temperatures of their native Australia. Just in case you're thinking that eight metres doesn't sound that high, allow us to do the maths for you. If a termite were scaled up to human size, the mounds that they build would be equivalent to FOUR Burj Khalifa towers stacked on top of one another; the Burj Khalifa tower in the UAE is the world's tallest building, standing at just under 830 metres. 

Highest Number of Shoes Found Concealed in a House
Yes, we're back to the ridiculous again! Back in 2010, a total of 58 shoes (along with 189 shoe fragments) were found in the chimney of Gelli Iago, a farmhouse in Wales that was built in the 17th century. The shoes, which were of all different sizes from child to adult, were dated to the 1870s and 1880s. 

The Guinness Book of World Records is not the only place where this total is recorded; it can also be found in the Northampton Concealed Shoe Index. This surreal-sounding document (we checked and found that it is 100% genuine) contains more than 2,000 instances of shoes being found hidden in buildings, with the majority of these discovered in chimneys and fireplaces. No sources have yet been identified to explain why concealing shoes seemed to be such a common practice.

Now we have scaled the dizzy (not to mention silly!) heights of roofs and chimneys that are record-breakers, let's plant our feet firmly back in the everyday world. Here at Greengates Builders Merchant, we stock a comprehensive array of roofing materials and accessories; as well as a superlative selection of chimney pots and cowls, our roofing range also includes tiles, ridges, felt corrugated sheets, vents, gutters, windows and more. 

While they might not be in the record books (yet!), all of these products carry two Greengates guarantees: perfect quality and a competitive price. In fact, these guarantees apply to each and every product in our vast portfolio. Please browse our website to discover the full collection and be sure to get in touch with us if any of our products help you get YOUR name into the record books!

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