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The Timber Tradesman of Somerset

PUBLISHED: 10:29 02 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:06 20 February 2013

Sarah Ford meets John Tucker, a Somerset carpenter who takes inspiration from the past to solve 21st-century space problems.

Thanks to modern technology, the trend for working from home continues to grow. But what if you don't have the room for a proper work space? It isn't easy to concentrate with household distractions all around you, and when faced with a difficult report to write it can be tempting to tackle the washing-up instead.

One enterprising Somerset craftsman believes he has the answer and he's called it The Hut. It is a low-impact, flexible space solution made from 21st-century materials and clad in locally sourced larch wood. Designed to your own specifications, it can become a unique home office, garden retreat or extra space for teenagers.

Bespoke carpenter and joiner John Tucker has also created his own version of the 19th-century shepherd's hut. Once used as a portable shelter for farmers during the lambing season, the modern-day variety is an ideal guest bedroom.
John set up his own business in 2000 after working as a project manager for a cabinet maker. When I meet him at his workshop in the village of West Pennard, near Glastonbury, he is busy on the refitting and renovation of a local house.

Most of his carpentry and joinery work is done within a 10 mile radius of Glastonbury and includes the impressive gallery and staircase in Glastonbury's Courtyard, counters for the Blue Note and Heaphy's cafes, as well as the major job of relaying and restoring the village hall floor in West Pennard.

A member of the Association of Environmentally Conscious Builders, John offers a complete design and construction service using traditional techniques and sustainable materials.

"I use locally sourced timber, and the larch on the outside of The Hut is from trees on the Longleat Estate which were removed in the expansion of Center Parcs. For outdoor structures I use naturally durable timbers such as oak, Douglas Fir or western red cedar which eliminates the need to use any chemical treatments."

John's family has lived in Glastonbury for at least five generations and his parents and brother own and operate the Glastonbury Spring Water company. When they built their new bottling plant on the site of an old farm beneath the Tor, John was the main contractor for the eco-friendly building which won awards from the Royal Bath and West of England Society and the Country Landowners' Association in 2007.

The idea for John's hut designs has developed from making a Victorian-style bathing machine used as a unique changing room next to a client's swimming pool. He built a shepherd's hut using an original set of cast-iron wheels rescued from the scrap man while restoring a medieval farmhouse near Shepton Mallet.

The Hut, which uses products and services from 13 other local companies in its creation, is a bespoke design working around a steel frame. Options include glass along one side, a 'green' roof planted with sedum, or electricity run on solar panels.

John explains: "The USP (or unique selling point), as they say on Dragons' Den, is that its installation and delivery is quick, you should not need planning permission, and you can take it with you if you move.

"There are many possibilities. Maybe if you had a farmyard or orchard in your village you could put some huts together as an 'office commune'. You would still have your own space but could invite other home workers round for coffee.

"The Hut is built using the same techniques and principles as a modern timber-frame house. It's not a shed," says John. He smiles and points to a tongue-in-cheek sign which was made for him by a friend. The sign reads: "Traditional Timber Tradesmen, makers of fine sheds on wheels to the rich and famous".

For more details contact John Tucker on 01458 830198, www.timbertradesmen.co.uk;

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