Every Projecteer has to have a shed or space or workshop, right? Of course! I’m no different to any other Projecteer, and I include my wife in this category as she’s got her own workshop as well. In fact, both of our workshops are connected by the overall structure of the buildings, but firmly separated by a good, 18th Century stone wall which is at least 18 inches/450 millimetres thick. I’ve written a lot of posts about bikes or things that have taken place in the workshop or have originated from it, but I’ve never really introduced the actual workshop to everyone, so here goes. Importantly, and to save you being workshop-storied-to-death, there will be a bit of a break as it will be a two-part series. Ready?
I’ll assume a ‘Yes’ answer to that last question and launch straight into ‘a long time ago….’Our place was originally a smallish, North Yorkshire farm and the current house was originally a barn, then converted to something a bit grander to live in during the late 18th Century. There are a number of equally old farm buildings that served as places to keep stuff like animals, tractors, equipment etc. The house and all of the buildings are made with Yorkshire sandstone and have Flemish roof tiles, which were actually brought over to our part of the North of England as ballast in the old coal ships that took coal out to Europe, and brought back terracotta tiles as useful ballast. The walls of the buildings and the house are very thick as I mentioned at the beginning. This is good for structural reasons, but not good for Wi-Fi to get through, although nobody clearly thought about that in the 1800s.
My workshop underwent a full renovation back in 2013. This meant a re-roof, a new floor, electrics, doors, plastering on the walls, lighting and painting. The floor has been painted with industrial floor paint so I can brush and wash it occasionally. I fitted it out with two new workbenches and a big cupboard, and all in a grey and red colour scheme. Around about the same time as my workshop was being renovated, a motorcycle magazine that I subscribed to and called ‘Real Classic’ (see link at bottom) was doing a series of visitations to readers sheds-spaces-workshops around the U.K. It was naturally called ‘Shed Quest’. Always one to be happy to contribute (and maybe show off a a bit), I sent my email to the Editor of the magazine with an invitation for the reporter to visit my new workshop. I also said that I would invite some friends around so that the magazine reporter would be surrounded by similar drinking-thinking-talking types and their vehicles. I got an email back confirming my participation.
The magazine reporter turned up on the planned day during the following summer on his 1948 Triumph motorcycle. We parked the Triumph, or Trumpet as they’re affectionately known, next to Bessie, our 1948 Ferguson tractor and mused over a first beer about what lives both the bike and tractor had led since both being born/made in that same year. After that, the place filled up with more motorcycles, classic cars, bicycles and associated people. The weather was great, our shed bar never went dry, live music took place in another shed and the night was finished off around a campfire. During this time, the magazine reporter had been around everyone asking questions, taking photos and just having a great time. The following morning I was supposed to jump in the car to go and watch a stage of the Tour de Yorkshire, but decided against it due the previous nights attempt at ‘performance hydration’, or read as ‘too much alcohol to drive’.
Eventually, the magazine article was published and the reporter had captured the whole event perfectly. He even included our 3 legged cat, Rosie. This was the first time my workshop had been written about to my knowledge, unless it had previously featured in a mystery story written in the 19th Century and published in the village Church magazine. Since then, the workshop has been home to lots of two wheeled stuff, some long gone, and some still in there.
I had designed the workshop so that I had enough storage and working space to do all sorts of work, although any work that is really dusty is done in another shed across the yard. Before long, and in addition to the bicycles and motorcycles, the walls started to become adorned with pictures, vintage motorcycle and bicycle helmets, more bicycles, a radio controlled dragster with a petrol engine from a chainsaw etc etc. Other things got screwed to the wall that I had accrued over time including some old bike shop things like the rack that holds all of the different spoke sizes or the kit for mending punctures (in literally anything), as well as the old factory fire bell. I also graffitied the doors of my big cupboard with appropriate stickers to make it a bit more artistic. My wife says the cupboard looks crap now, which is tough feedback to to take in my own workshop.
Fortunately, there have been no accidents to date other than when I drilled through a power cable whilst hanging up a cupboard, which obviously created some sparks and required the electrician to come out and fix it. I did have a wasps nest last year appear on the inside of the roofing felt, so they got fixed by the local pest control man. I don’t have a coffee machine in the shed, or a kettle, or a fridge for beer. All that stuff is a short walk away in the house. There’s also an outside toilet in another building just across the yard so I don’t have to go into the house. The paint on the workshop door where my oily hands have made contact with it just above the door knob and the lock has been discoloured a bit, which makes it look like some engineering stuff does actually go on in there. There is no heating in the shed. I just add or remove clothes depending on the weather and temperature, although there is a small heater if I need it.
One of the problems that all practising Projecteers have is an ongoing lack of space. This is because there’s an increase of finished projects that need storing, or the need for more space for those special tools, or things don’t get sold to make way for another project. This is true for me. The most annoying thing is when I can’t get to something easily that I want because something else is in the way. I like to be organised and be able to get the tool or part I need in double quick time, but too much stuff can prevent this. The most extreme example of this is when the first 15 minutes of the job is remembering where the tool or part is! Very frustrating and not efficient or enjoyable!
I am genuinely fascinated by other people’s workshops, or sheds, garages etc and I also like the concept of the magazine’s Shed Quest approach because a lot of Projecteers have some really special places to work in and be in. I’ve seen a lot of fabulous workshops as I’ve been around the world and I love everything from the smell to the machinery and the stuff stored in them, as well as the important part, the actual owners and their stories.
All of the above paragraphs and pictures should have been enough to set the scene for you, so what now and why a two-part blog post? I need to do a bit of a re-think of the space. Nothing too revolutionary or ultra-transformational, but change is required. Firstly, I’ve got too many bikes to fit in there so some serious selling needs to take place. This will be done through this site, so watch out for a new page coming soon and which will be dedicated to the sale all things bicycle, and maybe the occasional motorcycle. Secondly, I’m going to move around some of the furniture. I’m going to remove one bench and swap it for some extra storage and then get the tools organised better.
Thirdly, I need to decide on the bikes that will live in there and those that won’t. Even though anything metal can rust within 10 minutes of being outside in our North Yorkshire climate, anything in the workshop remains warm(-ish) and dry. Part 2 of this post will show the outcome of this work, plus all of the stuff that I don’t need or want and will therefore go on the divestment list.
Finally, I’m thinking about a potential renaming or the workshop. I think that my space means more to me than the term ‘shed’, which is commonly defined as a simple roofed structure used for garden storage or to shelter animals etc etc. If I look at the definition of the word ‘workshop’, it means a room or building in which goods are manufactured or repaired. This second definition is a good descriptor of my space. I could also step away from any North Yorkshire vernacular and go for a name like the French, Atelier, which means a workshop or studio, and especially one used by an artist or designer. Maybe I’m pushing the boundaries with this last one, and it definitely isn’t a studio, but I do like the word Atelier and it’s different, especially in our village anyway.
So, here ends Part 1. Part 2 will show the outcome of my thinking and the latest developments in terms of layout, contents and the launch of the ‘Divestment Page’, which will be managed by me and not through the eBay page link I currently have on this site. In the meantime, I wish all Projecteers happy projecteering and watch out for the follow-up post?
Many Thanks to Real Classic magazine for the inclusion in Shed Quest and here’s the link to the magazine site: https://www.real-classic.co.uk/