Posts tagged “Beaminster

Dorset maker Guy Martin opens up for Dorset Art Weeks

THE SCUPLTOR and furniture maker Guy Martin is taking part in Dorset Art Weeks every day between Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, June 10. To mark the occasion here is a piece about him first published in 2002 in a handsome little booklet produced as part of a project called TM1 (short for tenminusone). TM1 featured nine artists based in West Dorset, each of whom had a little essay written about them by Sara Hudston, although her name didn’t appear.

The scheme (as far as I can remember) had two aims. First, to try to promote the careers of individual artists. Second, to improve the economy of West Dorset by showing it to be an attractive, creative place – somewhere worth visiting and worth doing business.

The scheme was funded by West Dorset District Council, South West Arts, and the South West of England Regional Development Agency.

The whole project has now been almost entirely forgotten, and the TM1 booklets are extraordinarily rare pieces of printed ephemera.

Now, clearly I’m biased, as I’m married to Sara Hudston, but it’s long seemed to me that her short essays were excellent pieces of work that deserve to be re-published and read.

The first piece to reappear on this site was about Amanda Wallwork. Next up, after Guy Martin, will be Carolyne Kardia, who is also taking part in this year’s Dorset Art Weeks. 

Parnham College, incidentally, was just outside Beaminster. It was set up by the furniture maker John Makepeace, who now lives in Beaminster itself and, yes, is also taking part in this year’s Dorset Art Weeks. In fact, he pretty much started them, if I remember right, but that is another story. Jonathan Hudston

Guy Martin: A “beautiful thriftiness”

Good design should serve the needs of humankind and the interests of the environment, believes furniture maker Guy Martin.

Using renewable local materials and ecologically sound methods of manufacture, Martin produces pieces that reject market-led criteria in favour of the needs and desires of individual people. His entire philosophy of making is founded on his belief in the value of purity and integrity. Martin’s faith in sustainable practice is governed by a strong sense of spirituality and service as exemplified by vernacular craft communities.

A chair called Cathedral made by Dorset furniture maker and sculptor Guy Martin from ash and stripped willow. It has a rounded bottom.

"Cathedral" by Guy Martin. Ash, Stripped Willow.

For six years Martin was design tutor at Parnham College in Dorset. His time there brought him into contact with desgners and business theorists of international repute, inspiring change and a rigorous reappraisal of values that enabled him to develop a unified philosophy of lifestyle and artistic practice.

Bench made by the Dorset sculptor furniture maker Guy Martin from lime-waxed birch and stainless steel

Bench by Guy Martin. Lime-Waxed Birch, Stainless Steel.

All Martin’s woods are sourced locally from renewable supplies. Cultivated willow from the Somerset levels was one of his favourite materials but supply difficulties have prompted him to make greater use of ash thinnings. He harvests the ash himself, selectively thinning as an essential part of woodland management. This choice of material displays a beautiful thriftiness since these small diameter poles would ordinarily be wasted or burnt for firewood.

Martin’s awareness of environmental issues also influences his practice in the workshop. He avoids using adhesives or other harmful chemicals and never disguises his core materials with veneers. Embellishment is restrained by functionality, emphasising the essential honesty of every piece. The result is a quality product where function has controlled the form, but works in balance with the possibilities of modern technology and other small-workshop constraints.

Storage tower made by the Dorset sculptor and furniture maker Guy Martin from lime-waxed ash and stainless steel

Storage Tower by Guy Martin. Lime-Waxed Ash, Stainless Steel.

Although Martin’s work is rooted in traditional English methods and influenced by the historic precedent of the medieval craft guilds, there is nothing sentimental about his approach. He uses machine processes where necessary and is not afraid to let the effects show on the finished item. He rightly views over-emphasis on hand techniques as an irrelevant attachment to suspect notions of authenticity, rather than a properly informed craft choice.

It is a measure of Martin’s range and skill that his elegant and original pieces avoid parochialism and yet speak so distinctly of a particular rural area. A recent development is the inclusion of stainless steel, which has made his work less explicitly rustic and lent his structures added modernity.

Guy Martin: Brought up on a converted torpedo boat

Guy Martin was brought up on a converted motor torpedo boat moored at Hayling Island. He studied at Portsmouth School of Art and St Martin’s School of Art in London, where he took a BA Hons in sculpture. In 1984 he started a contemporary furniture design practice. From 1988-94 he was design tutor at Parnham College in Dorset, during which period he developed a strong interest in ecology and global environmental concerns.

He has since established his own independent practice in Dorset, making interior domestic furniture, as well as teaching and lecturing. He says: “Design is a listening process, a responsibility and a service and it should take account of the environment and its resources.”

Guy Martin & Dorset Art Weeks 2012

Guy Martin’s Crown Studios at Old Crown Cottage in Greenham on the B3162 near Drimpton in the far west of Dorset are open every day during Dorset Art Weeks from 10am – 5pm between Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, June 10. On May 31, June 1, June 7 and June 8 he’s also open from 6pm to 8pm.

Mr Martin is putting on a joint show with Anne Quick – number 190 in the Dorset Art Weeks (DAW) brochure.

“Please come and enjoy our studios, garden and home with a cup of tea,” says the DAW entry. But note: no wheelchair access.

For more information, call 01308-868122, email or visit his website at

Anne can be contacted via email on or visit her website at

In total, 100o artists are taking part in Dorset Art Weeks at 360 free venues:

Or look out for a free printed brochure (actually, more like a book these days): Tourist Information Centres normally have a good supply.


Lush Places: is that eat-in or take away?

THE PEOPLE of Lush Places wait with bated breath as the auction of the village shop fast approaches.

With our publican throwing in the beer towel and our shopkeeper longing to escape the daily Londis grind, the outlook is mixed. Are those storm clouds ahead or is it just the mist that falls frequently, like a conjurer’s white handkerchief, on our little village, while the rest of West Dorset is bathed in light?

Or will there be sunny spells, a heatwave of 1977 proportions as Lush Places enters into a renaissance none of us ever dreamed possible?

Whatever happens, we can’t say that Mr Grigg hasn’t tried. When there were emotional discussions about the village putting together its own bid for the shop, he has been at the centre of it, the voice of reason.

We all think we know what sells but the harsh reality is that, actually, we don’t. We all think it would be nice to have home-made jam and organic meat on the shelves but it is probably the cheap biscuits and fags and Pot Noodles and copies of The Sun that leave the shop fastest.

We are not professional retailers, we need people with experience who are prepared to be open all hours.

So, as serendipity would have it, while driving through Beaminster this week, Mr Grigg notices a group of Asians with an architect and a plan outside the old convenience store in Hogshill Street.

With a screech of brakes, he stops the Land Rover, a line-up of traffic behind, and ambles across the road.

‘Excuse me gentlemen,’ he says. ‘Are you looking to buy a shop?

They nod in unison, he calmly walks two doors up to Symonds and Sampson and comes back, brandishing details of the Lush Places village shop.

‘Now this is the place you want,’ he says.

‘Lots of passing trade, potential for post office and a village eager to keep its facilities. See you in ten minutes.’

And with a cheery wave, he leaves a group of dumbstruck men on the pavement and a queue of angry motorists in his wake.

But what he doesn’t know is that there is talk of an Indian restaurant opening in Beaminster.

So look out Lush Places: forget the corner shop, welcome to the Mumbai Moments takeaway in the village square.


West Dorset: Have your say on free bus travel

IT SEEMS that all the news is about cuts these days and this is no exception. Money available for bus passes for older people is being significantly reduced.

At the moment, responsibility locally lies with West Dorset District Council but as of April 2011, it will be with Dorset County Council. 

Up to now West Dorset has been offering extra concessions e.g. free travel before 9.30am. Older people elsewhere in the UK – depending on the goodwill of their councils – have to travel after rush hour.

What seems to make sense in towns and cities where buses are busy with people travelling to work does not necessarily add up in remote parts such as ours. 

Imagine you live in Melplash and need to go to Yeovil for the morning. If you can no longer take the 07.44, the first bus available is at 10.24, getting you to Yeovil at 11.20. 

And if you want to travel from Beaminster to Weymouth without going around the houses, then you can no longer do it for free as the only bus is at 08.45. 

The consultation ends this Friday, 14th January (it started on 3rd December). Seems a bit short but I have only just been made aware of this (then again, I don’t qualify for free travel yet!). 

I understand that this consultation has had a postal survey and a web survey. If you qualify for a free bus pass, are affected by the proposed changes but have not been made aware, here is your chance:

A Dorset County Council spokesman commented: “Whilst the official deadline is 14 January we will be processing responses received for at least 5 working days after the deadline.”

He went on: “We are consulting, amongst other things, on the possibility of restricting the use of passes before 0930 on weekdays in West Dorset, East Dorset and North Dorset (this restriction already applies in Christchurch, Purbeck and Weymouth & Portland).

“The final decision will be made by councillors taking into account the much reduced government grant and the impact on passengers of such restrictions.

“It is, however, highly likely that where buses are infrequent officers will be recommending that exemptions are allowed (there are already precedents for this in areas where the pre-0930 restriction already applies).

“We are currently identifying those journeys likely to be recommended for exemption and it is quite a long list!” 

Historian reveals how Dorset sailor died in Siberia

THE STORY of how a young West Dorset farm labourer came to be murdered in Siberia is uncovered in the November issue of the excellent parish magazine, the Eggardon & Colmer’s View.

The fate of Harry Marsh has been researched, ahead of Remembrance Day, by the military historian Richard Connaughton, who lives in Nettlecombe.

Harry Marsh was born in 1893. He left Powerstock for the Navy in 1912, survived World War I, and was by 1918 a Petty Officer (Stoker) on HMS Carlisle. In the summer of 1919, the ship sailed for Russia. Her mission was to help defeat the Bolsheviks who had led the Russian Revolution.

Harry Marsh was killed on 22 October, 1919, in what Mr Connaughton calls the “lawless frontier port” of Vladivostok.

“He was shot to death whilst walking along a lonely road in Vladivostok by a person unknown. This suggests that Marsh was robbed… He was buried in the Lutheran section of the Pokrovskaya Cemetery.”

This is the barest of summaries. Mr Connaughton’s full article can be found on page 19. (The magazine has plans for a website but nothing at the moment beyond an ‘under construction’ page).

I’ve reproduced some of the facts here, firstly because they show what startling human details lie behind the letters that we see on memorials like the one in Powerstock church that lists ‘H. Marsh. HMS Carlisle’.

Secondly, because Mr Connaughton also mentions a project that I’d never heard of.

This is the UK National Inventory of War Memorials, an archive of Britain’s 100,000 war memorials, which aims eventually to record as much information as possible about every one of them. (The appeal for money to help achieve this, incidentally, is led by Paul Atterbury of BBC Antiques Roadshow fame who has lived for several years in Eype near Bridport, but is now, according to the selfsame issue of the Eggardon & Colmer’s View, moving to Weymouth).    

Anyway, the url for the archive is at

There are ten entries for Bridport alone, five for Lyme Regis (including the clock tower in the Cobb Gate car park), and four for Beaminster, including this from St Mary’s church:

In loving memory of/ Cecil Collins Hann/ 2nd Lieut. Royal Flying Corp/ Son of Albert and Edith Hann of Beaminster/ Who was Killed in Action in the air during the Battle of the Somme, Oct. 22nd 1916. Aged 25 years/ His body was laid to rest at Heilly, Mericourt L’Abbe, France


West Dorset: Let’s at least try to get superfast broadband!

HAVE YOU heard from “Race to Infinity”? Sounds a bit Toy Story but is it child’s play? If you think your broadband connection is slower than what you’re actually paying for, read on because if Beaminster and Bridport’s votes are anything to go by, West Dorset is not even in the race. Yet.

BT are conducting a survey for the establishment of their superfast fibre optic Broadband within the UK called Infinity Services. Have we got a chance in West Dorset to even get what some of us already pay for but are not getting: a fast connection?

Well… five areas of the UK (yes 5) with the largest percentage of votes by 31 December 2010 will win the chance to be the lucky BT’s Infinity race winners. ‘Chance to win’ never guarantees anything in my books but lack of trying certainly guarantees failure.

So, before you go and vote please tell all your friends, your colleagues, your neighbours, your parents and whatever you do please don’t forget your silver surfer friends. We do live in West Dorset after all. Only 8 people have voted for Beaminster out of 1,800, Bridport is marginally better with 38 votes out of 8,110 (on Monday 25 October 2010).

Our neighbours Weymouth will probably be on fast track mode thanks to the Olympics but let’s face it, Beaminster, Bridport or Sherborne may well be in West Dorset too, it doesn’t mean we’ll have any of that legacy. Go on, it takes a minute, does not cost a penny and it’s nice to be full of hope once in a while…

To Infinity and Beyond? Go:

Council submits plans to move Mountjoy School

PLANS to rebuild Bridport’s Mountjoy School in Beaminster have been submitted by Dorset County Council.

The county council wants to move the special school on to land next to Beaminster Technology College (BTC).

A national schools adjudicator gave his approval for the idea last year, and last month county council cabinet members agreed a budget of just under £9 million for the project.

If planning permission is granted, work could start next spring and a new Mountjoy could open in autumn 2012.

The aim is to serve 48 pupils with physical and learning disabilities, aged from two-and-a-half to 19.

BTC and Mountjoy would remain separate establishments, but the county council argues that Beaminster would benefit from improved sporting facilities, such as a new synthetic pitch, and alterations.

Changes would include new car parking facilities for Beaminster staff, which would be accessed from Tunnel Road, and should therefore reduce traffic along Fleet Street. An improved footpath would also link the schools with the town centre.

Answers to frequently asked questions about the scheme are available online at

Full details of the application will be viewable later this week at

Search under the town name of Beaminster.

Editor’s Note: Based on a press release issued by Dorset County Council. I’ll update this piece when the planning application can be seen online.