Classic Canes is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2022. It is a very unusual business with a correspondingly unique history:
In the late 1970s, Ben and Diana Porter bought Warren House (above), a romantic but ruined Tudor hunting lodge set deep in a Somerset woodland. They fell in love with the location, gradually rebuilt the house and discovered the surrounding woodland was suitable for growing the raw material for walking sticks. In 1982, a small range of walking sticks was offered to local shopkeepers, who soon demanded a wider selection.
The family business grew steadily to include more products, employ more people and serve increasingly far-flung retailers. The company started to exhibit at trade fairs in the early 1990s and soon found a willing export market. The once-traditional range expanded to include ladies' fashionable walking sticks, folding walking sticks and formal and gadget canes, so that retailers could order every type of walking stick, seat stick and umbrella from one source. In the early 2000s, the Porter's son Johnny established a workshop so Classic Canes could produce its own rustic walking sticks on site.
Today, Classic Canes Limited supplies a range of over 700 products to retailers in approximately 40 countries, most of which are exclusive to Classic Canes. Ben and Diana's daughter, Charlotte Gillan, is the managing director and the creator behind many of our patterned walking sticks and canes. Diana is also a director. Ben is now retired but maintains an interest as a shareholder (see our The Team page) and is remembered fondly by many of our long-standing customers. Other family members assist with diverse duties from representing the company at trade fairs to modelling for lifestyle photographs.
The company is still based in the original Somerset woodland, where the buildings have been added to over the years to provide warehouse, storage and office space.
Classic Canes products are stocked by many types of retailers, including gift shops, garden centres, mobility retailers, department stores, gentlemen's outfitters, country clothing stores, hardware stores and accessories shops. Many stockists also sell online; please see our Find A Stockist page for details.