Meet Tom – Joiner
Tom grew up on a farm in the Blackmore Vale – described by Thomas Hardy as being ‘the Vale of Little Dairies.’ Hardy writes evocatively about looking out over this part of Dorset in his famous novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles. ‘The world seems to be constructed upon a smaller and more delicate scale; the fields are mere paddocks, so reduced that from this height their hedgerows appear a network of dark green threads overspreading the paler green of the grass. The atmosphere below is languorous, and is so tinged with azure that what artists call the middle distance partakes of that hue, whilst the horizon beyond is of deepest ultramarine.’ A country childhood in such a place must strongly influence the way you see the world. He says it certainly instilled a respect for the countryside.
What does he do at Plankbridge?
Tom initially joined Plankbridge for two days a week straight out of school before starting at Yeovil college on a joinery apprenticeship. He has since completed level 1 and 2 and level 3. One day a week at college gave him four days a week in our workshop working on a diverse range of projects. Once through the initial ‘finding your feet’ duties that the apprentices start out doing, he built on his experience and skills and has become a valued member of the team. In 2022 he became Team Lead of joinery.
Where is his favourite place to eat out in Dorset?
He says ‘the Ship Inn, by the bridge in Weymouth is good’, as is the revamped Green Man in Kings Stag. The historic part of Weymouth, by the quay, is an interesting place and is actually one of my favourite places for fish and chips on a summer’s evening.
What has he done with the shepherd’s huts recently that he particularly enjoyed?
The Roundhouse is definitely his proudest moment so far, completed for the glamping venue Swallowtail Hill, in East Sussex. Working on site was fun too, and a challenge. Other recent projects are reclaimed shelves and cupboards in a ‘back to back’ project for a home in Norfolk and, of course, the amazing shepherd’s huts for the latest Pig Hotel, opening in Harlyn Bay, Cornwall. All these projects happen to involve reclaimed materials and Tom has been very involved in making the furniture too. He shows his friends photos of what he does and they all say ‘it’s really cool’.
What makes for a good weekend?
Going out sailing from Weymouth, racing yachts as part of a crew. Also walking, photography and making things if time allows, as he always seems to be busy.
What do you like about being at Plankbridge?
He says he enjoys the varied work, sometimes going out and commissioning huts on site, working on the Pig Hotel huts and the joinery projects he works on. He says it’s a great atmosphere in the team and everyone gets on so well.
Interestingly he has found working from drawings by different architects, and our own in-house CAD drawings, has been quite an experience. It’s sometimes a challenge, as each one has a different approach to communicating their thoughts. It’s a great skill to learn, being able to lift ideas from drawings, phone calls, emails and meetings, and bring them into reality, however complex or unusual they might be.
It all helps Plankbridge rise to a challenge and be ahead of the game.