About Kirtley Kettles

Kirtley campfire kettle suspended over fire from tripod

A campfire kettle – the centre of many a camp.

The supply of Kirtley Kettles came as the result of the need of traditional campers for a traditional kettle. More and more people were using camping stoves and fewer using open fires. With the widespread adoption of central heating over the past few decades, with fewer people running traditional stoves in their houses, there has also been a massive decline in the use of stove-top domestic kettles.

So metal kettles had become few and far between – more often seen painted black and used as a garden ornament than over the heat of a flame.

10-15 years ago it was still possible to occasionally source metal kettles suitable for campfire use from traditional hardware stores and independent camping outfitters and were ideal for buschraft school’s basecamps. But over recent years, these became even more rare.

Paul Kirtley explains more…

“Those of us who have worked in the field of bushcraft instruction for many years remember being able to get hold of good quality, traditional metal campfire kettles. They are important items in our base camps, helping keep us and our students fed and watered. They maintain a presence over our campfires and a focus at the core of our camps. As they became harder to come by, everyone valued their kettles even more! When I came to purchase some new kettles for Frontier Bushcraft, I simply could not source any in the UK.”

At the same time Mark Hotson was on a similar quest, needing to source some campfire kettles for Countrylore Bushcraft. He and Paul were talking on the phone and both related the difficulty in sourcing metal campfire kettles. They agreed that they would keep looking and cast their net further, each letting the other know what they found.

Knowing that some of the kettles he had used in the past were from Africa, Paul contacted a South African friend in the UK. Such kettles are readily-available in South African hardware stores; family were contacted to purchase a few and ship them north to the UK.

Independently, Mark had identified the manufacturer of these kettles in South Africa and contacted the company to enquire where they were sold in Europe. It turned out the kettles were no longer sold in Europe (which explains why they had become so hard to come by).

Paul and Mark compared notes and soon realised that between them they had the resources they needed to serve the bushcraft and traditional camping communities in an area that was lacking. If they were finding it hard to find kettles then so was everyone else.

Kettle, tripod and the woods.

Traditional camping skills are undergoing a resurgence amongst those who want to reconnect with the natural environment.

So a plan was hatched – Mark would organise the import and wholesale of kettles utilising the warehouse of his furniture business, while Paul would lend his endorsement, name and company branding to them to promote these excellent kettles.

With a huge resurgence of interest in traditional camping skills – through bushcraft, Scouting, Forest Schools and, for many, a general desire to reconnect with nature – the campfire is once again becoming an important part of to many people’s lives.

And so the traditional campfire kettle is regaining its importance too.

In an age of throw-away products and rapid obsolescence those of us behind Kirtley Kettles are proud to supply a high quality, durable, traditional product which will stand the test of time.

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