Getting to know our Founder, Tim Crump

Living in Herefordshire led me to spend my early carpentry career repairing old oak frame cottages and farmhouses in the countryside. With my copy of F.W.B Charles Conservation of Timber Buildings in one hand and my saw in the other, I gained an in-depth understanding of how traditional oak frame buildings were put together.

 

Oak frame repair

I spent over ten years repairing old oak frames before my friendship with Nick Price led me towards starting Oakwrights, and the design and construction of new oak framed houses and buildings. Following the success of Oakwrights, I have not really had anything to do with the repair of old oak frames.

When a set of drawings landed on our doorstep showing the repair of a small, traditional oak framed cottage in Hertfordshire that had the misfortune of the thatch catching fire and burning down, I was not really interested until I realised that linked to the old cottage was a proposed oak extension in an L-shape that took the house up to about 3,000 square feet. Suddenly I was much more enthusiastic and thought that it would be good fun to dig deep into my memory and carry out the repair to the old cottage, as well as the design and construction of the new oak frame.

The new oak frame

Being a carpenter by trade, I like to get out on-site at least three or four times a year to join one of the frame erection teams on the best part of our job: actually putting up the oak frame. So, I decided to join our team in Hertfordshire to erect the new oak frame and fit a new roof to the old cottage.

We arrived on-site on Tuesday May 4th (the day after the bank holiday), with a long, hard week ahead of us. We had left our yard in Herefordshire at 4.50am and arrived on-site just after 8am. The site was in the Hertfordshire countryside just outside what can only be described as a quintessential English village with its church, duck pond, village green and thatched cottages.

Our team of five unloaded an arctic and a flat bed lorry of oak; 1200 cubic feet in all, and we were ready to go.

The main team got started on erecting the frame and I was tasked with ensuring the new roof on the cottage would link into the roof on the oak extensions that we were building.

1999 - Nick Price and Tim Crump join forces to create Oakwrights

The oak frame structure

The combination of a complicated foot print with changing levels connecting into an existing building, made this an interesting project to say the least. We worked closely with Bill Seale, the site Foreman, to overcome all the little opportunities that came our way in a positive and pragmatic way.

I determined how to set up the wall plates of the old cottage regarding level and angle, to gain the best connection I could between the two roofs. This involved the packing, levelling and reducing of the existing wall plates ready to receive our new roof. I must be getting slow in my old age as it took me two days to get the wall plates absolutely ready for the new roof.

By the time I had sorted the wall plates out, the team were ready to start fitting the new wall plates to the old cottage after completing the main oak frame structure.

The result looked great and lifting the principal rafters up into the plain of the purlins helped to gain additional head height in a room in the roof situation. The clasped purlin trusses with the arched effect, where the two principal rafters meet at the ridge, and large sweeping wind braces I think makes the roof looks elegant.

By Friday evening at 6pm we had completed the entire main frame, adjusted the wall plates of the old cottage and even started to fit some of the oak rafters to the hip on the far end of the oak frame house.

While feeling a little stiff and aching in places I didn’t think existed, I really enjoyed myself when standing back and looking at a frame that will now stand for another three or four hundred years; giving many families a beautiful home to live in. My thanks must go to Neil Dower for providing us with the opportunities to breathe life back into this old house. I am looking forward to returning to see the house completed in all its glory with a new thatched roof.

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