Kelly Kettle

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A Kelly Kettle in use. Note the cork stopper is not in the water spout while water is being boiled, this is for safety reasons

Kelly Kettle, Storm Kettle, Ghillie Kettle, Thermette and Volcano Kettle are trade names for efficient portable devices for boiling water outdoors using twigs and other small combustible materials; these devices consist of a water jacket surrounding a fire chamber which creates an upward chimney draft ensuring efficient and rapid boiling even in windy or wet weather.

Kelly Kettle and Volcano Kettle are registered trademarks of the Kelly Kettle company[1][2][3] which first produced the product in Ireland in the early 1900s. George Marris & Co of Birmingham first produced the "Sirram Volcano Kettle" in England in the 1920s. The Thermette was first manufactured in New Zealand in 1929 and was standard issue for the New Zealand Army during World War II where it was known as a Benghazi boiler or Benghazi burner. Other companies, including the Eydon Kettle Company started manufacture at later dates.

Earlier examples of water heaters using a water jacket include heavier samovar tea urns from Eastern, Central, and Southeastern Europe, as well as the Middle East.


Thermal image of a just lit Ghillie kettle, note the plume of hot air resulting from the convection current.

Early examples (estimated at about 3,600 years) of devices that heat water surrounding a fire include samovar tea urns from Eastern, Central, and Southeastern Europe, as well as the Middle East.[4] The Kelly Kettle Company first manufactured portable devices of this type four generations ago[5] in the early 1900s.[citation needed]

George Marris & Co of Birmingham (Brass Founders, Stampers and Piercers) first come to light in the 1800s making iron bedsteads and brass/copper fern pots. They diversified into picnic sets, picnic water-boiling sets and high-end shaving/toiletry sets in the 1880s (The Sirram Spirit Set Registered Design 247422 of Dec 1884) and Camping Stoves with their brand name "Sirram" (Marris backwards). There was a meeting between one of the Marris family and a New Zealander (almost certainly John Ashley Hart who started the Thermette Co in New Zealand in 1929 - see below) to discuss products and ideas. The original concept of the volcano kettle appears to have been Harts, but he may have been inspired by traditional Mongolian and Chinese hot-pots which had a central chimney. The first Sirram Volcano Kettle was manufactured out of spun copper with brass handles/fittings, it appeared in the late 1920s and was eventually covered by Registered Design No. 731794 of 1928. Subsequently, the design changed from copper/brass to spun aluminium, there is no record of when this change occurred. The Volcano Kettles were still in production in the late 60s as the book 'Modern Camping 1968: by Jack Cox' quotes a UK Consumers Association ('Which? Magazine') test of 21 camp stoves which concluded "For boiling water quickly or washing up there is nothing to beat a Sirram Volcano, either at home or abroad". Production of the Volcano Kettles and picnic boiling sets appear to have ceased in 1970 when Desmo Ltd purchased Hawker Marris Saled Ltd and discontinued the kettle range in favour of focussing on their picnic hamper range. Following the demise of the Sirram Volcano Kettle in 1970, modern versions are now in production by a number of companies around the world.[6]

The Thermette design was registered in 1929 in New Zealand by John Ashley Hart. It was standard issue to the New Zealand army serving in the North Africa during WW2 when it was known as the 'Benghasi Boiler'.[7] In 1939 the New Zealand Army asked Hart to waive his patent so they could make their own Thermettes; he agreed and the device was issued as standard equipment to every small army unit.[7]

A modified version of the idea was created by the Eydon Kettle Company in the early 1970s and sold as the 'Storm Kettle'.[8] Fixed (and portable) rocket stoves used for cooking were developed in 1980s; with variants for heating water[9] and for space heating.[10]


The kettles are normally constructed from a durable heat-conductive metal, such as aluminium, stainless steel, copper or tin. The source of heat is typically paper and twigs. A base below the main body section holds the fuel and contains the fire. Fuel is added to the fire without removing the kettle by dropping it down the chimney. All designs use an internal chimney to create an upward draught. Typical water capacities are between 0.5–1.5 litres (2–6 cups worth).

Variations have been produced by a number of manufacturers. Some kettles have the flame holder at the base integral and some allow it to be removed. Typically, the designs use a vertical cylinder shape for the outside of the kettle with the internal surface of the chimney being either a straight cylinder or a cone shape with a wide end at the base and a smaller aperture at the top.

If the base is removable, it may be possible to store other items, or specially designed cook sets, within the chimney during transport. Devices normally come with a swinging or fixed handle. A cork, plastic stopper or in some cases a whistle are used to seal the water container spout. The cork and stoppers should be used ONLY when transporting water and NOT when heating water. (If left in place even loosely the hot water vapour can make the cork swell and hold fast, and then the pressure builds up until the cork pops out followed by a jet of hot/boiling water).

Cooking accessories for some units allow a small cooking pot to be placed on a support on top of the chimney, or a grill to be put over the base without using the main water chimney component. These add-ons typically store inside the chimney for transport.

Further add-ons can turn the chimney into a small cooking range, with the cooking containers and utensils also being packed into the hollow chimney space or into the Inverted base. The fire bases may be inverted and stored inside the chimney.



The 'Eco-Bily' is composed of stainless steel with a 0.7–1.5-litre capacity with parallel external sides and top, with a fixed base that cannot be removed from the kettle; fuel is added exclusively by inserting it via the chimney.[11]

The 'Dingo Bush Kettle', has a removable bottom plate for the fire base, which is integral to the kettle. It has a slightly different shape, being more rounded than the other kettles.[12]

Britain and Ireland[edit]

Kelly Kettle (Kelly Kettle Company of Co. Mayo, Ireland)

The "Volcano Kettle" by the Kelly Kettle Company

Sirram (George Marris & Co of Birmingham)

The "Sirram Volcano Kettle" by George Marris & Co of Birmingham (Brass Founders, Stampers and Piercers). The "Sirram" Brand 1880s - 1970.

Storm Kettle from the Eydon Kettle Company

"Storm Kettle" by the Eydon Kettle Company[13]

Ghillie-Kettle from The Ghille Kettle Company

"Ghillie-Kettle" by The Ghille Kettle Company[14]

These devices typically have capacities of between 0.4–1.5 litres. The common design has a removable base, inside which the fire is lit.

New Zealand[edit]

The Benghazi boiler (Thermette) design originates as an independent invention in 1929[15] by John Ashley Hart. It uses an internally narrowing (conical) chimney and a construction of either copper or tin plate. The shape is a straight cylinder leading up to a flat top; the water spout also being on the flat top.[16] Pouring is done with a fixed handle on the side, and the base can be removed. The Thermette is considered a New Zealand cultural icon.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Case details for Community Trade Mark E5001078". United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  2. ^ "Case details for Trade Mark 2148045". United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  3. ^ "Case details for Community Trade Mark E5576285". United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  4. ^ Akhundov, Tufan (Autumn 2000), "Birth of the Samovar?", Azerbaijan International, pp. 42–44
  5. ^ "Kelly Kettle". Kelly Kettle Company. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  6. ^ "George Marris & Co (Sirram)". Classic Camp Stoves. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  7. ^ a b "Thermette's History". Thermette. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  8. ^ "The STORM Kettle". Eydon Kettle Company. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  9. ^ "Rocket Stove Water Heating System (Set)".
  10. ^ "Rocket Mass Heaters".
  11. ^ "Eco billy". Eco billy. Retrieved 2010-02-23.
  12. ^ "The Dingo Bush Kettle". BushKettle. Retrieved 2010-02-23.
  13. ^ "Eydon Kettle Company". Retrieved 2010-02-23.
  14. ^ "Ghillie Kettle Company". Retrieved 2010-02-23.
  15. ^ "THE "THERMETTE", NZ Truth, 11 December 1930
  16. ^ "Thermette now!", 1938 pictorial advetisment, Evening Post
  17. ^ "Using a Thermette", Te Ara

External links[edit]