Kim Farley-Harper - Woodwright & Property Restorer
based in Dinas Mawddwy, Mid-Wales
My Biography (long version!)

I was born in 1952 in the black country, the home of industry. Growing up in a working class family with very strong work ethics, I learnt from an early age that if you didn’t work for it you didn’t get it.

I was taught that quality workmanship would advertise your work for you, and these are the values I hold today. My love of creating things out of wood began at a very early age with, for those who can remember them, orange boxes. These were a two compartment box made of rough pine. They were quickly converted into pigeon pens, rabbit hutches, ferret carrying cases and chicken houses, earning me the title of "The Orange Box King"! There soon followed more elaborate projects and in time I was in demand, making cupboards, chests, dolls houses and tram-wags (homemade go-karts). This was all before the age of 12.

My uncle Edward was a master carpenter and passed his endless knowledge on to a very willing apprentice. The day I started work he presented with my first set of "proper" carpentry tools, which I’m still using today.

When I reflect on my school days (the days I actually went), I was the proverbial round peg in a square hole: in short, academia wasn’t my forte. I was dyslexic in the era when it wasn’t recognised - you were just a nuisance and labelled as factory fodder. Luckily, as in many schools, there were the rare teachers who could see the whole picture and appreciated that working with your hands was of equal value to academic skills.

After leaving school, during my teenage years my love of wood tended to dictate which avenues I explored. This took me along a path which included boatbuilding, building and fitting out horse boxes with grooms' quarters to name but a few.

When I met my soul mate Jackie I already had my own business, property restoration. However, it wasn’t long before Ryan and Rhona our two children joined us, bringing with them the shock of the extra responsibilities. I quickly knuckled down to providing them with what I hoped was a more secure childhood than I had had myself, mortgage payments not excluded.
Obviously the jobs you do to earn bread and butter aren’t always the most satisfying, but I have never had to advertise: I have always got my work through word of mouth and hopefully the quality of my work has spoken for itself.

Some of the jobs I have worked on have been amazing, the Centre of Alternative Technology for example gave me the opportunity to work on compost loos, environmently friendly houses and eco-cabins. I have made horse drawn wagons, renovated barns and converted vans into homes. One of the most interesting aspects of my work is consultancy. I really enjoy looking at a house, barn or shed and advising how best to use the space available or renovate to its full potential.

Now both the children are fairly independent (this could change tomorrow!) I am in a position to concentrate on creating and working from my workshop. I have just completed a project for Fortnum and Masons, comprising four beehives incorporating 4 unique entrances and a gold leaf finial. These will be used to produce Fortnum’s own honey. They will be on show in the Fortnum’s show garden at the Chelsea Flower Show and were featured in an article in the Daily Telegraph on April 7 2007. Ultimateley they will be placed on the roof of Fortnums and they will produce honey from London.

I am currently working on a cabin which will be used for workshops and my next project will be a two wheel trotting cart for a self sufficient community in Pembrokeshire who use horses instead of cars. I hope to be able to continue to make my living working creatively with wood.