we make great
If benches are, by definition, for use by more than one person……………. then why on earth are they all straight?
There are lots of things that make our benches special but perhaps the most obvious is that THEY ARE NEVER STRAIGHT……… because benches are clearly meant for more than one person and nobody likes talking to anyone over their shoulder, do they?
So our benches are gently curved so that people sit aligned in a way that encourages conversation but doesn’t force it. The curve needs to be just enough to facilitate eye-contact and the chance of a chat…… without being too horseshoe-like as that would leave you eyeball-to-eyeball with a stranger and so you probably wouldn’t sit down were somebody else already occupying the bench. So “not too curved, nor too straight, but just right…..”, as Goldilocks never said.
But by being curvy and beautiful, our benches seem to draw people in to sit on them- the power of novelty, perhaps? And the upshot is that people linger longer out of doors in a convivial, community-friendly space that is free-to-use and democratic…… helping to turn a hub into a hubbub…….. with all the wellbeing gains that brings to the local community.
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL……:
Our benches are made to last decades:
- with sturdy galvanised steel frames
- with 2”-thick English oak slats for the seat and backs
- the oak is treated with 2 coats of preservative and 2 coats of clear decking treatment which delays the natural silvering process
- the slats are all separate (with no moisture traps to act as rot hot-spots) and are firmly held in place by heavy-duty coach-screws
Our benches are as eco-friendly as possible:
- the very local English oak is needs-must felled in Suffolk’s parks by the lovely volunteers of the Greenways Countryside Project with almost zero transport miles
- apologies for the steel in the frame but it extends the life of a bench from the usual 10 years to 30, 40, 50 or more and so is more than justified
- We did experiment with recycled plastic but found it soon sags under its own weight and does not age well whereas our local English oak has been tried and tested in church doors all around the country, many of which are hundreds of years old. The final word rests with this UN Food and Agriculture Organisation report which proves that our local sustainable oak is king due to the massive amounts of energy needed to gather, melt and extrude recycled plastic: https://www.reuters.com/article/climatechange-forests-furniture-idUKL8N1A63B3
Our benches are made to be low maintenance:
- they are incredibly sturdy, simple designs
- the slats are flat and simple to replicate at minimal cost so, were any damage to occur, it is a simple job for any local woodworker to unscrew it and replace it with a new one.
- the steel is left galvanised and will go a dull gun-metal grey over the years but will never need painting.
- the oak is treated but not varnished. Like the door on your local church, it will silver over the years but should not need any further treatment.
Our benches are designed and built in partnership with the local community:
- we design the benches in messy art workshops with local community groups to instil a sense of ownership and ensure the benches fulfil their needs
- wherever possible, the workshop participants join in with the installation, too, by helping screw down the oak slats
Our benches are reasonably-priced as you are only paying for us and the materials. We are a small workshop in rural Suffolk with low overheads- you are not paying for a large office, company directors or shareholders’ dividends. The all-in cost depends on the size of the bench….. the complexity of the design and decoration…… the number of workshops with your local community groups…… the presence of some suitable local oak that you may be able to supply us……. the distance we need to travel…. how good your coffee is….. and will generally sit between £5,000-25,000. But we are flexible and always willing to work to a budget and build your Bench Project around your needs….. your resources……. your community. And we also love a challenge so are happy to talk about any job you can imagine.
Our benches are made by us in our workshop in Stratford St. Mary, Suffolk with the galvanised steel frames made to our specification by our friends at Blunt Fabrications in Manningtree, Essex. We also work with our colleague Blue King to prepare and run the design workshops and source all our local, sustainable, needs-must-felled English oak from the conservation work of the lovely volunteers of the Greenways Countryside Project in the parks of Suffolk.
So……. if you need a bench…… and you need that bench to be special…… please get in touch.
A few of the Bench Projects in the pipeline:
- Snape Maltings (BPA and Suffolk Craft Society) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the SCS and the completion of the Maltings new flood defences (2022)
- Holywells Park, Ipswich- collaboration with Friends of Holywells Park, Ipswich Wildlife Group and Cliff Lane Primary School, kindly funded by the Ropes Trust (autumn 2022)