A huge announcement by Koi Water Barn at this weekend’s All England Koi Show ended what had been ongoing speculation – ‘The Barn’ is moving to new premises.

Moving announcement

Moving announcement

In a full statement Koi Water Barn stated:

‘Exciting times ahead for Koi Water Barn

After lots of speculation over the past few weeks, today we finally announced to the world at the All England Koi Show, that Koi Water Barn will be moving to Coolings Garden Centre in the new year.

This is an exciting time for all involved and is the next step in the long history of Koi Water Barn, which will see us build a bespoke, modern and sleek shop, in one of the longest running family owned garden centres in the UK, only 4 miles from our current location.

We will be open as normal at the current location until the 23rd of December when we will close between Christmas and the New Year, with us opening on 3rd of Jan 2019 at Coolings.


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We will not have finished our build by then so it will be a limited shop, with a grand opening event to be planned for March 2019….

It is worth putting in your dairy that we will still be having our Winter Auction, which will be on Sunday 25th November, and we will also have for the very first time a dry goods Auction on Saturday the 24th November.

So exciting times ahead, and keep watching (www.koiwaterbarn.co.uk) for updates once the build gets under way!!’

The map below shows the location of the old ‘barn’ and the new ‘barn’ – click here to see on Google Maps.

Map showing location of the old and new Koi Water Barn premises

Map showing location of the old and new Koi Water Barn premises

The announcement got me thinking about the history of Koi Water Barn and its part in my Koi life.

My earliest visits to Koi Water Barn would have been back in early 1988, certainly we visited there before we built the pond in the summer of 1988.  That pond still contains 1 Koi which I am pretty certain came from ‘The Barn’ 2 or 3 years later as a small tosai for a 1 ton growing on tank I had built in the garden greenhouse.  Funnily enough the greenhouse is still there, although the tank is gone.  Soon the greenhouse will be gone to be replaced with a growing on pond, but that’s a story for another day…..


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The advert below is from the July 1988 British Koi Keepers Magazine, the earliest advert I can find for them.  There are only a couple of other businesses advertising in that magazine that remain with us.  Two others that did, and invariably made up a 3 dealer visit whenever we crossed the river to Junction 4 of the M25, were Kent Koi Kompany and World of Koi, both of which have long since closed.

KWB Advert - July 1988

KWB Advert – July 1988

Koi Water Barn opened in Lilly’s Farm Shop in 1983, although founder, the late John Pitham, imported his first shipment of Koi a couple of years earlier.  John’s first contact with Koi came through his grandfather sometime earlier. When John was a teenager in the early 60’s his grandfather had Koi in his garden pond.

In 1988 Koi Water Barn was a very different place to the premises it has developed into over the course of the last 30 years.  My earliest memories were of a small shop, all of which was to the left of the entrance and consisted just of a few ponds that occupied the place where the front ponds are now.  What in those days seemed a huge vortex (as detailed in the advert above) was a rather dominant feature.

Sales tanks for small Koi at 'The Barn' - in the late 1980's this was 'The Barn'

Sales tanks for small Koi at ‘The Barn’ – in the late 1980’s this was ‘The Barn’

In around 1990 the first extension was built to include what remains the main display pond at the existing premises.

Main display pond

Main display pond

The mid to late 1990’s saw a period of significant change take place at Koi Water Barn, a period of time which rather coincides with a period when I was somewhat distant from the hobby.  My now good friends Bill and Maureen McGurk joined the business from 1996 until July 1998.  In 1996 Keith Holmes also joined ‘The Barn’ after a work placement from Sparsholt College and has been responsible for running the business for the past 10 years.

John Pitham (centre) with (left to right) Toshi Nakamori, Chu Chan (Ogawa Koi Farm), unknown, and Bill McGurk (now Purdin Koi Farm)

John Pitham (centre) with (left to right) Toshi Nakamori, Chu Chan (Ogawa Koi Farm), unknown, and Bill McGurk (now Purdin Koi Farm)

In 199X John Pitham lost his life to Leukemia and son Tony took on the day to running of Koi Water Barn.


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When a chance conversation with my own dad in 2000 re-ignighted the Koi fire which had clearly been smouldering inside me, Koi Water Barn was one of the first places on the ‘to visit’ list and with it the first of many meetings with Tony.  I recall discussing the ‘new pond’ I was planning and I remember his advice to heat it – not the cheapest piece of advice he’s ever given me!  I do have a very vivid memory of there being a Isawa Nishikigoi Centre Ai Goromo in the main pond with a price tag of around £750.

In July 2003 the new Koi house was added on the back of the main pond extension.

New Koi House

New Koi House

The photo below was taken during my visit in March 2017 – http://nishikigoi.life/2017/03/07/visit-koi-water-barn/

Display ponds

Display ponds

In 2004 a Kohaku supplied by Koi Water Barn, and owned by Mark Crampton, won the British Koi Keepers Society National Koi Show – a Koi which incidentally was my first cover photograph, appearing on the cover of Koi Carp magazine, a copy of which still hangs on the wall next to my desk.

Grand Champion BKKS 2004

Grand Champion BKKS 2004

‘The Barn’, Tony Pitham, Mark Crampton and fellow hobbyist Martin Plows were aiming higher though.  They were targeting the All Japan Koi Show.

Having narrowly missed winning Grand Champion in 2005, the Internet buzz around the turn of the year in 2006 was palpable as the All Japan Koi Show grew ever closer and the belief that surely they could take the Grand Champion prize, making history as the first non Asians to win the prize.  I hastily arranged trip to the show with assignments from Practical Fishkeeping, Koi Carp and Kois Ponds and Gardens magazines.  The guys won the coveted prize, and my Koi journalism career started.  We partied all weekend and a friendship with Tony  really started that weekend.  Koi Water Barn had made history.


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2006 Grand Champion Yamato Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

2006 Grand Champion
Yamato
Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

In 2007 Tony assisted with securing me a press pass to that years All Japan Koi Show, something which was far from easy to obtain back then but something which I’ve held ever since.

With Nishikigoi.TV started I visited Japan with Tony in the autumn of 2007 to attend the auction at Sakai fish farm, at a time when ‘press’ didn’t really attend – and it was rather much a close guarded secret than the internet free for all it is now.

Tony Pitham at 2007 Sakai Auction

Tony Pitham at 2007 Sakai Auction

Tony Pitham at 2007 Sakai Auction

Tony Pitham at 2007 Sakai Auction

Tony Pitham at 2007 Sakai Auction

Tony Pitham at 2007 Sakai Auction

During the intervening 10 years I’ve regular met Tony either in the UK or more so in Japan on his regular visits, drinking beer and chatting Koi.  Tony’s desire to move ‘The Barn’ to a new premises to keep up with the ever changing Koi industry was well known to me.

Tony at Marusei KoiTony at Marusei Koi Farm in October 2017 Farm in October 2017Tony at Marusei Koi Farm in October 2017

Tony at Marusei Koi Farm in October 2017

Following the announcement I spoke to Tony who said:

‘KWB was established in 1982 by my Father the late John Pitham. He worked from home before finding a small spot at Lilly’s Farm in Chelsfield…

My Grandfather had kept Koi and other cold water fish from the mid 1960s.  


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Since these early times we have been responsible for building and supplying filtration equipment, Koi and more to 10s of thousands of customers. We have won Major awards at many Koi shows world wide and have supplied Grand Champion at the South east, UK national, Belgium, German, South African and most importantly the All Japan Koi Show in 2006 with an amazing Sakai Kohaku ‘Yamato’.

The Koi hobby in the UK is forever changing and we hope to bring the Koi and products hobbyists in the UK demand.

Our new shop will be state of the art and offer competitively priced products and koi to visitors and on a mail order basis to customers country wide.

It’s a new chapter in KWB history. ‘

Keith Holmes said:

‘Koi Water Barn has been my life for the past 22 years, and although it will be shame to leave the Barn as we know, nothing is forever.


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The Koi industry has undergone many changes since its height late 1990 and early 2000 and the appeal of a Koi shop is no longer enough to draw the crowds in.

The move to Coolings is an exciting one, and will allow us to expose the wonderful hobby of Koi keeping to a new audience and hopefully get new people involved. Coolings will allow us to do this due to their own massive appeal and foot fall through the door.

As they say, as one door closes another opens!! And with this new door opening, it will allow KWB to move forward for many many more years, building a bespoke Koi centre / water gardening centre to fit the times, being energy efficient, cheap to run, and show casing all of the latest products in a very sleek and professional way which we feel no one else is currently doing!!’

We’ll bring you more news from Koi Water Barn and the development as it takes place, follow http://www.koiwaterbarn.co.uk and ‘The Barn’s’ Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/koi.waterbarn/ –  for more .

 

 


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