For most of four generations, Sam Buckland’s family did its level best to find a way to work with wood, but the demands of rural English life kept interfering. But for almost four decades now, the family’s Creamore Mill has helped the Bucklands come home to their woodworking roots, allowing it to turn out comfortingly simple items for the home and garden.
It took a while to get from there to here, however. Sam’s great grandfather trained as a carpenter and joiner, but his family needed him to work on the farm. It wasn’t until he retired that “he took up his old skills making such things as gates and ladders -- sometimes recycling the timber from redundant horse shafts and cartwheels -- for the farm, which had then been taken over by my grandfather,” Sam said.
His father, John, was entranced by this as a boy, to the point that when a school teacher asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said he’d be a carpenter.
The teacher told him he wouldn’t. “There won’t be carpenters by then, it will all be done by machine" he was told, according to Sam. It took him until he was 30, in 1981, to prove her wrong and set up a workshop next to their cottage and began designing and making things to sell at craft fairs in the northwest of England.
“A big learning curve and long hours,” John said of that time. “The country was in recession, never a bad time to start a business -- things only get better! Favorite wood was elm, dark with lovely grain which was cheap and plentiful during the 80's, sadly due to Dutch-elm disease.”
After six years, the family that owned the Creamore Mill offered to sell it to the Bucklands. The mill, about halfway between Birmingham and Liverpool, had been in existence since 1851. In addition to grain milling, it was also used for light industry in the middle of the last century.
Now the family judiciously balances some automation with a considerable amount of hand work to make its products. “There is plenty of hand work done preparing, finishing and assembling each piece,” Sam said. “Ultimately, we balance the best possible quality with economy of scale and not least, work satisfaction.”
John Buckland turning the front discs of curtain holdbacks -- similar to the bases for the string tidy (https://heaveninearth.co/products/string-tidy-with-scissors).
Even the simplest products, like a bottle stopper, brings immense satisfaction to make, Sam said. “They are made from a single piece of wood and little more than a single process of turning forms the product into something tactile and beautiful,” he said. “To me, this simplicity is efficient and appealing. “