Training, historic building expertise & apprenticeships
Nigel Howe specialises in timber framing. His timber structures are distinctive because of the use of wood, milled to create 'swan' timber.
He is a founding member of the Forest of Avon Wood Products Co-operative and Director of the Carpenters Fellowship. He is also a training officer for the Oak Frame Training Forum, an organisation that run specialist Apprenticeships and Up-skilling Programmes in heritage framing skills, up to NVQII and NVQIII level, in conjunction with the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board).
In addition, Nigel is a member of the Forest of Avon Trust, The Carpenters Fellowship and Oak Frame Training Forum.
His father was part of a self-build project in the 1950s that built 50 homes, all 3 bed semi-detached with garages & long gardens. So he grew up among tradesmen who built their own homes, conservatories, sheds, greenhouses. Over the years he learnt how to dig foundations, lay bricks, measure, level, triangulate & work with timber. His school was a Secondary Technical School (boys) specialising in the building trades in Reading, Berkshire. As part of the curriculum, they built extra workshops on the site & built an outdoor pursuits centre in the Wye Valley where they spent weeks at a time. There he developed skills in technical drawing TD, & woodwork in particular. Part of the idea of the school was to train the architects & craftsmen, & the building inspectors for the area. The school was a tough mixture of Hells Angels, skin‘eds, swots & hippies with a mutual respect for their building skills & sporting prowess. There were 14 of us in the Berkshire U15 Rugby squad of 30.
He then moved to Bristol, married Jackie & trained in to be a teacher. Wherever they have lived they have built, extended, repaired & maintained properties. They have taken on derelict & almost uninhabitable properties & raised our children amongst saw dust, lime mortars, linseed oil & the smell of log burners.
30 years ago he left mainstream teaching & helped set up the Forest of Avon Wood Products Co-operative along with Jim O’Shaughnessy & Rupert Newman (Westwind Oak Buildings).
He worked on the Leigh Woods Barn Project & a 3 bay open barn at Chelvey Court & decided to buy a Wood-Mizer mobile sawmill. He then took on the lease for the redundant farm buildings at Chelvey & set up the Chelvey Designer Makers Cooperative of woodworkers. He has worked with Henry Russell & Gudren Leitz, & met Charley Brentnall, on the Westonbirt Arboretum Great Oak Hall project. Every timber went across the Wood-Mizer & they did 12-hour shifts to keep ahead of the framers. This build was instrumental in the origins of the Carpenters Fellowship & they photograph their new SAP intake with John Russell’s model of the Great Oak Hall.