There can be few finer sights than bold autumnal colours carpeting the dramatic Lake District fells.

What a joy to behold as twelve intrepid members of the Northern Group weaved their way along the winding lanes towards Bothel in deepest Cumbria. The grandeur of the autumn colours was matched by the warm welcome provided by Huw Lowden and Steven Younger, our hosts for the day and co-owners of DF Bespoke Timber and Furniture.

With Gerald Farnsworth, our resident Lancastrian, acting as interpreter, we soon grasped a broad understanding of the local lingo, making life much easier for those generally more accustomed to Queen's English.

Before commencing our tour, Jim Carrick paid a fitting, but up-beat tribute to Ken Hawley, this being the first meeting of the group since Ken's untimely passing.

Huw Lowden and Steven Younger then provided us with a fascinating insight into the operation of DF Bespoke Timber and Furniture, a company which this enterprising pair took over in 2011. Huw explained that the company is now split into two elements, the timber business and a furniture making workshop. In reality, to describe their business in such simplistic terms grossly under-plays their ingenuity and drive.

The two arms of the business focus entirely on converting locally felled Cumbrian hardwood to sawn timber, seasoning the wood and then manufacturing furniture, resulting in a truly remarkable and unique local enterprise.

Huw captivated his audience with an incredibly erudite talk about the sourcing of local timber and its conversion to sawn boards, including a wonderful explanation of the faults and defects in wood that beset the timber merchant in both the processing and seasoning phases. He also explained that all the furniture they make utilises locally sourced timber only, so clients can be 100% certain they have a genuinely local piece of Cumbrian sourced, Cumbrian made furniture. It was also heartening to learn they are training an apprentice, Jason, who has been with them for 18 months. Stick with it Jason, you have two great teachers!

Rarely have I witnessed such enthusiasm from such young craftsmen and business owners. We wish them every success with their business.

Following our lunch break, the group were entertained by another local business, but one more familiar to many TATHS members as John Rogers (Tools 'n' Things) who provided an insight into the plight of an old tool dealer – or should that be a dealer in old tools!

John was hugely entertaining as he described the peculiarities and pitfalls of plying his trade in old tools and other collectables. Like many of us, he is often astounded by the strange objects that come to light with seemingly no useful purpose, until that is someone identifies its obvious use – a principle demonstrated using a carrier for small game birds, an object that none of us recognised. Apparently he has two now!!

An entertaining and enjoyable event was rounded off with Group members talking about some of the interesting tools they had brought along.

Dick Reed thanked Huw, Steven, Jason and John on behalf of the Northern Group, both for their excellent presentations and giving up their Saturday for our benefit and enlightenment.


DF Bespoke Timber and Furniture
Tools 'n' Things