The Woodstove Shop showroom

The Woodstove Shop

Leading the way in renewable energy since 1973

Why we started selling woodstoves

When we first started our tiny business, way back in the Winter of 1973, we were still very active in forestry work and simply were cold in our offices and house.

In pursuance of discoveries and new developments I went to a forestry exhibition in Penicuik near Edinburgh and chanced upon an exhibitor who was selling Norwegian Forestry Equipment and he happened to have three Jotul woodstoves on display. I tried to buy one but all were sold except the one underfire which was still for sale so the following day it went into my Land Rover for the trip home. In 1973 no one was distributing woodstoves in the UK let alone selling retail.

I bought further Jotul box stoves, the Jotul F602 and F118 from him until Simon Thorpe, an agricultural writer for various newspapers, managed to get exclusive distributor rights for Jotul in the UK.  In 1975 Simon from a newspaper background developed the woodstove distributor network over the next few years. We were likely the first retail outlet exclusively selling woodstoves in the UK and by 1975 we were advertising in magazines such as The Countryman, Farmers and Daltons Weekly, Exchange and Mart, Express Newspapers and Southern TV (the voice over was by Jack Hargreaves, a director for Southern TV, you might remember he did a program called Out of Town). I spent many miles on the road delivering all over the UK, sleeping on the rear shelf of my trusty Bedford TK lorry.

The oil crisis in 1974 to 1975 followed by the three day working week and power cuts improved our success, with waiting lists for available stoves. We soon realised that woodstoves and other types of renewable energy was our business direction.

By 1978 we had moved to our present address in a sawmill which has now closed and we are now in much larger premises on the same site. The site is also the home of Wildwood Conservation Park which has over 100,000 visitors a year.

I finally ceased trading our successful forestry business in 1979 and concentrated on commercial chimney systems via our company Instant Chimneys Ltd which was formed in 1979 and our retail outlet The Woodstove Shop Ltd. Our success with commercial business chimney systems led us to carry out works over many years in many well known Crown-owned properties as well as The National Trust and English Heritage, plus many other new builds and restoration work on many large and small individual properties and small developments, from council houses and pubs to castles. We carried on for thirty or more years, successfully employing up to eight full time employees as well as specialised sub contractors.

However, during the last 5 years we have reduced our commercial chimney work to reflect the changes in the world of renewable energy heating systems, concentrating on woodstoves, pellet stoves and boilers as well as solar PV and solar thermal. Our young industry is always changing but with total stove sales of over 30,000 we have a steady flow of old and new customers and sometimes second and third generations returning to our small and established business.  We are always embracing new ideas and technology having established standards with a first for many techniques over the last 45 years which are now considered within our industry as standard practice.  

Please do not hesitate to discuss any old or new projects or any technical problems you may have as we are very likely to have an answer based on our track record of solving all types of chimney problems and heating designs. You can contact us by email or visit our showroom for a cup of tea or coffee and a chat and touch and feel up to 100 stoves on display with the ability to fire up to eleven appliances.

Andrew Hemsley