The HOTPOD story represents a journey made from necessity and function into a unique art piece.
These images help tell a little of our story from the early prototypes into its current aesthetic form.
Click on the images to see more.
Until Hotpod, Gregory was my largest creation. He was my home for several years, and he was also my inspiration for Hotpod.
I was living in him when I met Lucy, whose home at the time was a converted coal shed. I knew she was the girl for me. She soon moved into Gregory with me and when our first son was born, we had to make some big changes.
With three of us living in Gregory, we needed more headroom and warmth. Not being able to afford a proper high roof I had to think of another way. I found a scrap Beetle and cut off the roof. It was a perfect fit, and looked funky too. I spent the winter trying to create the ultimate campervan stove, and thus began the evolution of what was to become the Hotpod.
We lived in Gregory on and off for four years until our home became just too small. I last saw Gregory when he was for sale on ebay. He no longer had a Beetle roof and was in the process of becoming a hotrod kombi with a Porsche engine. Rock on Gregory.
On the back I wrote 'For Lupin 01-01'. The model was what I now call a Prepod; one of the first stoves I made before the 'Pay off your mortgage in 2 years' programme. Lucy's was Prepod number 3, but it was the one that all the Hotpods are modelled on.
I do remember unmasking it after painting and thinking I might have overstepped the mark. I was unsure what Lucy's reaction would be.
Fortunately she loved it - and so did a lot of other people.
The name Hotpod came later during a chilled evening with my best mates, Angelo and Hugo. It was almost the Hotpot Stove, so huge thanks to Hugo for the 'd' which even seemed to change the way the Hotpod looks. "It's very now," Hugo said. He was right.
The most influential person in this story was Business Guru (and now business partner), mentor and all round nice guy Mr Rene Carayol.
He said "Dan, if you can make 100 of these, you can pay off your mortgage."
He was right; although I decided to make 350 instead.
I’m in the workshop that I started making things in over 20 years ago.
I was a lucky man: I must have had one of the largest and best-stocked sheds in the country.
My dad, Dan Harding senior, is a blacksmith and farrier. Iron is in my blood, so naturally I became a blacksmith too.
As a teenager I helped dad with odd bits of work at the forge, and if there was no surf I spent my time working on Gregory my surf bus and Florence, Grandma Harding’s old Beetle, which I inherited at 17.
I loved making things out of stuff I found, and when I first took apart a broken VW engine I was amazed at the beautiful things I found inside.
That’s too good to throw out...its a candlestick!
That was how the email began, and who wouldn’t want to?
‘Pay off your mortgage in 2 years’ was an ambitious two-year project by the BBC. The programme followed eight households, and ours was one of them.
During the first year we cleared most of our debts except the mortgage itself. Thanks to the programme makers’ guidance, we started to see that the little things really do make a difference.
Presenter René Carayol took one look at the stove I made for Lucy in our living room and said, “Make 100 of those and you can do it!” The mission was on.
The programme was an amazing journey and when the second programme went out, we soon had enough orders to pay off the mortgage. But it was a crazy two years. We ate Nettles with everything and made a living room on the beach.
That was until the Hearth and Home Show 2006.
We didn’t know what a trade stand should look like. Once again, we did something entirely different, and when we arrived we were in our element. Conversations were sparked left right and centre. Everyone wanted to touch the Hotpod, and at one point I thought “If that guy gets any closer he’ll be inside.”
Hotpod won the judges’ Highly commended award and we were stoked. What a friendly warm (very warm!) atmosphere. Philip Malkin, David Spencer and
their families work so hard and make the event really enjoyable.
We took the advice of my fellow stovies and are making a cast version of the original Hotpod – before someone else does. We’re now working with Thomas Dudley, whose work may be in your house already (go and look at your toilet cistern, they do plastic casting too).
The new Hotpod supports British Industry because it is cast in Dudley. It is also supporting the Cornish economy because it will be assembled in Cornwall, and shipped from Cornwall using our local distributor 3B International. The crates are made by a retired St.Ives police officer John Meardon.
A genius invention, even if I do say so myself.
Surfing is the cornerstone of my life. Before I started surfing I had short hair and I was going to be a helicopter pilot. After one weeks’ work experience as a lifeguard I realised for the first time that my hair was curly and I loved the sea.
I have to be a bit more choosey about the surf nowadays as I have Hotpod orders to fulfil, but you know what they say... perfect surf makes a perfect day.
We’ve just launched the latest edition of the Hotpod:
A cast version of the original Hotpod, cast from recycled iron at the Thomas Dudley foundry in the Midlands.
Finally we have brought the Hotpod to a stage where we can keep up with trade demand, while still keeping up our high standards and ethics. It has been a lot of hard work to get it to this stage, but we’re proud of what we’ve achieved.
This year was not only the 10th anniversary of the Hotpod design (Lucy's original stove was finished in January 2001) but is also the year that the Hotpod Unlimited went to a test lab in Arnhem Holland, (with Dan in the camper of course) and returned with a CE mark, full EN13240 conformity, an amazing certified efficiency of 81.3% and the test results required to apply for DEFRA appliance exemption for use in smoke free zones.
Now, as of October the 1st the application has gone through and both Hotpod models are officially clean burning stoves and can be used to burn wood in smoke free zones.