The history of R W Knight & Son at Castle Farm
- Dick and Mary bought a Jøtul wood stove from Norway to heat their draughty farm house in 1974. At the time in England the concept of burning wood instead of coal was unheard of. They decided on the stove after seeing a leaflet which was written in Norwegian at the Royal Welsh show, where the family were showing their Hampshire Down sheep. The stove changed the feel of the house and made them enthuse to anyone and everyone as to how good the stove was. Most importantly to them it cured the constant smoke in the room from the open fire which was due to the large fireplace (over 1m tall and wide).
- The farmers weekly published an article in 1975 about a museum Dick had opened (Mr Knight goes public), at this time it was unusual for farmers to have other ventures. The museum was based on the longhouse which dates back to the 16th A longhouse is one of the earliest forms of dwelling and farmers shared the building with the livestock. Dick wanted to raise enough money from the museum to keep the buildings from going to ruin.
- The reporters from the farmers weekly thawed out on a winter day in front of the Jøtul stove. This then led to a picture in the magazine of Mary stoking the stove, explaining the efficiency compared to an open fire. This was the first wood stove article published in England. This picture led to a large number of enquiries (40 a day at its peak) and so they started supplying stoves to the public, despite the initial reluctance to go into retail.
This coincidently was around the start of Dutch Elm disease in the height of the oil crisis. As well as, the start of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Which most certainly helped sell wood burning stoves at the time.
- More and more time was being spent selling stoves instead of farming and on the museum. The extra income meant the farm could be run traditionally without sprays and fertilizer to keep the fields as meadows with lots of wild flowers and the historical buildings could be left. Around 10 years after Dick started selling stoves, another article was published about the stoves Mr Knight sold (A pioneer took to selling after 200 inquiries).
- Gradually the business expanded and they started selling a couple of other leading manufacturers stoves, which are still sold today. Now over 40 years on Dick’s son Henry runs the business, dealing with these established premier manufacturers and have the confidence that the products supplied will be a benefit to customers and give many years of reliable service. Please see our most recent article (A family firm that is doing a roaring trade).