ESSE: 160 Years In The Making.

The ESSE stove company was established as far back as 1854 by a Scotsman named James Smith. Born in Edinburgh, Smith left for New York in 1832 at the tender age of 16, in the hope of making his fame and fortune in the new world. His travels took him, first to New Orleans, and then to Jackson, Mississippi. It was here he started his own metal work business. The business proved such a success that James eventually brought his skills back to Britain and set up a new business manufacturing stoves.   

Through the intrepid exploits of Florence Nightingale and Ernest Shackleton, Smith’s legacy continued. Nightingale, in particular, was so passionate about ESSE cookers that she would use no other brand at her field hospital in Balaclava, Crimea.

“I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 28th January and to say that the stove you kindly sent us is now at the Castle Hospital, Balaclava. I beg to add that I have shown it to Monsieur Soyer, who greatly approved of it. Indeed, its merits were already known to him. I beg to repeat my thanks for this useful contribution.”

She once wrote to an associate in a letter of appreciation.

Ernest Shackleton’s ESSE stove, ‘Mrs Sam’, helped feed and keep alive 15 freezing men throughout the winter of 1908. The stove still stands today, along with the hut that sheltered it. You can find it the icy floes of the Antarctic, should you wish to visit it at all! Shackleton and his team eventually reached the summit of Mt.Erebus. For this feat he was later knighted by King Edward VII.

Today, ESSE stoves and range cookers continue to be assembled by hand by a highly skilled workforce in Barnoldswick, Lancashire. ESSE use British cast iron and steel and, wherever possible, they prioritise British component supplies. Kate Humble cooks on an ESSE range cooker at her Humble By Nature Farm in South Wales, as do Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Mark Tebbutt at River Cottage in Dorset. 

And, yes, An ESSE range cooker became the first range cooker to star on the silver screen when it appeared in the 1984 Bond movie, A View To A Kill, starring Roger Moore. Now that’s a fact worth shouting about!