It was back in the 1960s that Percy Coate began experimenting with the willow he grew to make drawing charcoal. Although it took some years to perfect the technique, by the 1970s he was finally ready to share the new Coates willow charcoal with the world. Percy's grandfather, Robert Coate started in business in 1819 as a 'withy merchant', buying and selling local willow crops. Today Coates is still very much a family concern with members of the family involved in all aspects of the business. For many years now Coates willow charcoal has been recognised as the best quality charcoal in the world.

The willow plant used for making artist charcoal grows very quickly and takes only one growing season before it is ready for use. It takes 3 days to turn raw willow sticks into willow charcoal ready for the artist to use. Artist charcoal is not the only item produced from the willow crop, if you would like to learn more about willow baskets and other willow items we create visit