Lancaster Woodcraft - the bespoke furniture business keeping age-old skills alive

PUBLISHED: 21:05 23 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:26 20 February 2013

Luke Ham and Andrew Tatham from Lancaster Woodcraft

Luke Ham and Andrew Tatham from Lancaster Woodcraft

Andrew Tatham and Luke Ham are keeping age-old skills alive in their bespoke furniture business. Emma Mayoh reports MAIN PHOTOGRAPHY BY: KIRSTY THOMPSON

Furniture makers Andrew Tatham and Luke Ham had often spoken about setting up their own workshop. The pair octen spoke of running their own furniture making business during the time they both worked at the renowned Staveley company, Peter Hall & Son.

But it was when an old workshop on the stunning Gresgarth Estate in Quernmore, near Lancaster, became available that they decided to go for it. They were both taking time out to travel but got in touch when they heard of the opportunity.

Restoration expert Andrew, 42, said: I had worked here before but it was more of a joinery business back then and we did amazing garden structures. The idea of our own place had always been there.

Wed both wanted to do this ever since we were at school. It was this workshop becoming available that was the catalyst. We didnt want to miss an opportunity like this. It was exciting and daunting and a steep learning curve.

Although Lancaster Woodcraft is relatively new Luke and Andrew set up in 2005 tradition runs through the business like a rich, dark grain. This can be seen in the numerous traditional skills they both use to create the beautiful one-off pieces of furniture. The use of machinery is kept to an absolutely minimum. If you can see a joint in one of their pieces, you know it has been cut by hand. They are also equally passionate about the sustainability of their wood supplies which come from Forest Stewardship Council sources.

They are certainly making the antiques of the future and this naturally attracts a premium when it comes to price. Their starting prices come in at around 2,000 for a simple dining table design and go up to 40,000 for a bespoke kitchen. But their work is built to last.

This shows in the number and calibre of commissions they have already had. Before they set up Lancaster Woodcraft, Andrew had already worked in the same workshop as a joiner making garden furniture for Arabella Lennox-Boyd, who lives on the estate. The work he produced, with the then owner Melvyn Heath, was sold to the likes of the Rothschild family.

He has produced work for Michael Heseltine and, in more recent years, he has had commissions from the Cavendish family of Holker Hall, creating pieces for a Tuscan property they were renovating. He has also worked for the Abbeystead Estate and made a cigar humidor as a gift for the Duke of Westminsters 50th birthday.

Since starting up Lancaster Woodcraft, Luke and Andrew have retained a strong and loyal customer base, again doing pieces for Arabella Lennox-Boyd as well as creating garden furniture for the National Trusts Bodnant Gardens in North Wales, doing various works for Aldourie Castle in Scotland and the Broughton Hall Estate, near Skipton. Bespoke kitchens have been created in partnership with Kirkby Lonsdale company, Juniper Interiors.

They have also worked on historic residential homes around Lancashire and the Lake District including making pieces for a 17th century renovated farmhouse in Halton and a special chest for a Lytham home that took them eight solid weeks to complete. They have also made a display cabinet for the library at Lancaster Royal Boys Grammar School, featuring a carved Lancashire rose.

It is the freedom of being able to create exactly what they want and seeing a project through from right from the start to completion that they love most.

Luke, 32, who also creates smaller objects using woodturning skills said: We love the freedom having our own workshop gives us and designing something and transforming it into a beautiful piece of furniture.

But we also love using all of those traditional methods, the joinery, carving and wood turning. Some of these skills have been used for a long time and were proud to still be employing them.

Furniture is rarely made like this these days. A lot comes in from abroad but fortunately there are still people around who want something a little bit different, something that cant be reproduced.

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