Friday, December 7, 2012

Fire at t'Mill

This is written by Nel - Wayne is still a little shaken.

The fire at Damside Mill

On Wednesday 6 December we were called at 6.45am by a neighbour at Damside. There were 5 fire engines, flames and a lot of smoke at our beloved mill.  But, no-one was hurt, and the old building is still standing, roof intact.

On Tuesday evening our precious CNC machine had been humming away in its purpose built, soundproof room in the Workshop, cutting out the last chairs for the winners of the TENT London 2012 competition.  The work benches were piled high with Edna drawers ready for final coats of paint in the new colours for London Transport Museum, and resting against the wall were the curves for the Mr Smith chairs and benches.

Upstairs all was quiet in the gallery. Sam Shendi’s  Key Hole man smiled from the top of the stairs, Laura Wellington’s Hula light glowed, and our furniture family of, Edna’s, Sidney, Frank& Mrs Frank and Mr& Mrs Smith waited in the gallery for their next visitors.  CABLE chairs and tables were stacked in colourful groups, and up the floating staircase on the mezzanine floor, young Louby Lou, the latest addition to the family showed off her long curvy legs to the admiring collection of Italian designer furniture.

In the Studio, all was in order, ready for Pauline’s upholstery class on Wednesday morning. The students’ projects stood high on benches, their new tweed upholstery and handmade buttons protected by dust sheets. A slight draft blew through the old windows for the last few days before the new ones were fitted.

Anthony turned everything off, said goodnight, locked up the shutters and headed home.

Fifteen hours later,  as the fire crew left, the investigations done (not clear at this point what started it), and the temperature still at -2, he made his way inside to see what was left of the vision we had invested a whole year of  time, effort and funds bringing to life.

It was beyond a nightmare.  The stairwell was burnt through, windows broken, and a charred mass of ash, wood, electrical fittings and tools covered the ground floor. Everything was very, very dark.

As the day went on and we moved things out and assessed the scale of things, we realised that it could have been so much worse. The fire had been drawn up the stairwell, and not sideways, and critically, it was caught and managed quickly and effectively by our wonderful local fire crews.

While all of Anthony’s work in progress and materials have been lost, we are hopeful that the CNC machine we worked so hard to buy can be salvaged.  The other machines are sturdy old things which we hope will clean up Ok – they were mainly wet and smoky.

Upstairs, much of the gallery is in a right mess, as are a fair few of the sculptures and furniture, but some amazingly still stand, and Sam Shendi will rescue, repair and respray.

Best of all, the upholstery studio is mucky, smelly and smoky, but intact, so Pauline will get back to starting our classes again as soon as we have a staircase again.

For anyone concerned about Wayne, our blogging whippet, he is a little sootier and grumpier than usual, but his tartan blanket was rescued.

While I write this, Anthony is out looking at temporary workspaces to get back to work as soon as possible. We will rent local CNC machines, spend our holiday savings on new handtools, order in some more plywood and boards, and get cracking next week.  And somehow we will fulfil our orders for Samih Ghandour ‘s new Beiruit gallery,  and for the London Transport Museum’s 150th anniversary of the tube in 2013.

Our amazing landlords are dealing with the insurance company to get us back into Damside as soon as possible, and Pauline is talking to her students about coming back to finish their courses as soon as we’re all cleaned up.

But our real assets haven’t been lost, or even damaged – Anthony’s creativity and skill as a designer maker, Pauline’s gift for teaching, Sam’s positivity and vision for his new sculpture space, and all of our commitment to bring Damside back from the ashes in 2013.

Nel Hargrave
December 8 2012

Our thanks go to the milkman who called in the fire, to Keighley, Haworth and other local fire crews for doing an amazing job (SAVE HAWORTH FIRE STATION!) in not only protecting our building, but being so supportive of us in shock too. To our Damside neighbours who offered tea, coats, gloves and the use of their homes, to Les and Stevie for starting the clean-up job, and to Liz and Russell for being there.

If you want to see what we used to look like,

If you want to see what we will look like, follow our journey from here at, on twitter @damsidemill or subscribe to the dog’s blog

Who we are in brief:
Damside is the last working part of the historic Lees Mill in Haworth, previously owned by the Merrell family. It sits just off Lees Lane near the Bronte Hotel.  We are fortunate that its owners, a local family, are committed to retaining it as a working part of Haworth’s industrial and creative heritage.

Anthony Hartley is a Yorkshire designer and maker of bespoke furniture. A joiner for over 20 years, he studied Furniture Design at  Leeds College of Art in 2000, and launched his first collection at London Design Week in 2011. His distinctive and colourful work sells internationally and has featured in design media all over the world. In 2012 he launched the CABLE collection of dining furniture at TENT London. CABLE was bought pre-launch by Cabana restaurants for their prestigious new Westfield London venue.

Pauline Keenoy is an experienced and talented upholsterer who led courses at Leeds College of Art for many years before setting up as an independent tutor and helping develop the courses at Damside Mill.

Sam Shendi is an Egyptian sculptor and designer who has made his home in Silsden and has recently started winning international awards and acclaim for his sculptures. He has a permanent exhibition at Damside and is (still) looking to move his studio there in 2013

Nel Hargrave writes stuff, adds things up and makes cakes.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cultured - Me? I've been to Tent London.

I'm back at Damside at last, with aching paws, mucky whiskers and a smudge of I don't know what on my right ear. Damside seems to have survived the rain again - only a few inches of water on the workshop floor this time - but it does makes the sawdust all clarty underfoot.

Anyway, you'll no doubt be wanting to know about our adventures;

We were only the 24 hours late setting off - our Anthony was still making up the new shelving system at midnight on Sunday, and Nel busy wrapping up all the chairs and tables. Still managed to forget a few though  - I told her the orange ones were in the gallery, but would she listen? 

We made it to Shoreditch through the emissions zone and the congestion charge (sounds a bit like summat from Dr Who to me). That nice Nadine from Tent ops (who were pretty damned good this year) had sorted us a good delivery slot so we unloaded and went off for a walk. Didn't think much of the graffiti they had down there. And say what you like, but those London streets are definitely harder on the paws than good Yorkshire setts (that's square cobbles to anyone not from Yorkshire).

Anthony spent the next 2 days putting up the stand - with help from Les the Sparky. Cable ties everywhere there was. I tell you, a whippet was afraid to sit down for fear of where he'd find one. Must admit to being impressed by Nel - that CABLE is the easiest thing in the world to put together - I could do it with three paws tied behind my back and a cat between my teeth. Anyway, it was "oh Anthony, I cant pull them tight enough, I've broken a finger nail, you do it much better than me" until he suggested she might want to go shopping instead... Respect to the woman!

Anyway, it didnt look too bad in the end, if I say so myself. Of course I arranged the finishing touches - our Anthony'd be lost without me you know.

The next four days were, if you'll excuse the expression, barking. Lovely Laura Wellington came down to show off her Hulas, and Sam Shendi's acrylic prints went down a storm too.
But the star of our own little show was definitely the CABLE chair. Our Anthony hit on the idea of handing out cable ties (thats zip ties to our transatlantic friends). "whats that for" bemused visitors would ask "ha ha! its what we hold our furniture together with" says Nel - and lured them in for a 5 minute chat about the wonders of cable tie furniture. You have to hand it to her, that woman can't half talk. 

But it wasn't all about us,  and in between guarding the London Transport Museum concepts we'd done, and rounding up people to write on our boards (to make Cable chairs for the tent london competition, of course)  I had time for a quick scamper around to meet some of the other nice designers too. Here's some of my favourites:
A cabinet by Peter Stern which  I love and
has a look about her of our Anthonys Edna 3
Curiosa and Curiosa - gorgeous
lights and great cocktails
amazingly talented hungarian
woodworker Laszlo Tompa

Not a clue what it is but I do
like it. And the Amitrani
Italian boys were very
very lovely too
Brilliant last year, brilliant
this year. the sort of sofa a
whippet would be proud to
be seen curled up on

The dashing Mr Murray and
his clocks. And chair.
And lamps. And fruitbowls
But no cupcakes, 
Gareth Bartowskis amazing
stuff. She wants this too. 
Gorgeous tinplate and
gesso from Kate Noakes
Nel seriously wants

We did like this lady and her
 lamps - think they'd look 
right nice at Damside 
one day - Sarah Turner

Ooh, this one did tickle me
from Melody Rose

The lovely Mr Zoltan Lubloy
made this - he must have
been the most charming and chatty 
 man at tent 2012. Our Nel was
lucky enough to get it as a 
present from her old school
friend Helen

Magical shiny squeezy
colourful stuff from Taiwan
 for a whippet to play with in
his more puppyish moments

Mamikims ingenious table
with gorgeous bits to add
on and take off yourself. Walnut.
Had to resist the temptation
for a chew on the corner
of one of them. Bad Whippet
Magical peacocks from
Sian Elin. Nel wants
these too. All over the
house apparently.

And the prize for best portrait
of me goes to the beautiful 
(and ever so slightly dotty) 
 Eliza at  Baines and Fricker

And here's the lovely Mr Will Liu from Taiwan who's enthusiasm for CABLE shone through the language barrier. Cant wait to see the video clip Nel did for them -a yorkshire lass talking about cable ties on a taiwanese website. Priceless. In the back you can just see our stand neighbour Alison Milner, packing up her handsome pieces of porcelain, and with whom we shared many a joke, customer, coffee, raised eyebrow and weary sigh. 

Now, I dare say I know as much about good design as your average whippet in the street (but probably not as much as the smart young hound Rufus who lives with Mr and Mrs Tent). But you know, this stuff here, along with Mini Moderns, Melanie Porter, Liam Treanor, Sebastian Cox, Endesigns and the stunning Invisible City made me right feel proud to be a whippet of the design world, (and, undoubtedly, a Yorkshire icon in my own right). Its all down to the sheer hard graft and talent of these designers and makers like our Anthony - and just once a year to get it all together under one roof at Tent London fairly stirs the doggy soul. Now, I'd better go before I start singing Jerusalem and get put back in my kennel. That London, its not bad at all, you know. In bits. I suppose.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sam Shendi - a new friend in town

How exciting - sculptor and artist Sam Shendi ( is going to show some of his amazing new works at our Anthony's open studio event on Sunday. 
This means that the upstairs gallery has to be finished by Sunday, so theres people everywhere painting, electricians up ladders, nel on her hands and knees scrubbing the stairs and a general sense of madness in the air.

I'm spattered all over with paint, and my tartan rug is at risk of being used as a floor cloth it not guarded well. 

I wonder if I could get some of the rather fearsome tribal dancers to guard it for me while I nip out? They performed at last nights opening event for Haworth Festival and scared the bejeebers out of me to start with

Anyway, here's some of Sams stuff - you can come and see the new ones yourself on Sunday 11-4 or next Sunday 11-4 too. 
You cant miss it - its the only mill left on shuttle fold (BD22 8RX) with lots of people scurrying about madly with paint brushes....

Friday, June 1, 2012

A great big beast is coming to stay....

Anthony is SO excited - he's finally got himself a CNC routing machine! - does it mean anything to you? no, me neither, except that its going in the corner of the workshop where MY tartan blanket has always been. This is one unimpressed whippet. He tried to soften me up with talk of more time for walks and ear-rubs because the CNC beast will cut everything out for him instead of him doing it all by hand - and apparently it sucks up all the dust too so I won't need a bath so often. Hmmm, I'm reserving judgement until it arrives and actually does something useful.

Mind you, the one down at Fablab Airedale did a grand job of turning out the new Cable stuff - did I show you the photos?

So, thats that. The CNC cometh. He'll be wanting to get it up and running to show off at Haworth Art Festival - I'll tell you more about that next time.

Right, off to get some of this dust out of my ears and see what that cat is up to....

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We love FAD and Fablabairedale and the Independent!

My oh my what a to do we've had up here in Haworth - its all going on!

It all started when the lovely people from FAD asked young Anthony if he can send them some of his new CABLE stuff down to The Other Artfair ( in that London next week. (

Well, that would have been fine, except the CNC routing machine hasn't arrived yet and there's only prototypes made of sprayed up MDF around the house (which Nel is adamant aren't going anywhere as they're the only chairs we have left to sit and eat off)...

So, he's been working with the fantastic James and Dave and Raf at Fablab airedale ( on their brand shiny new CNC router and the results are just bloomin lovely, even if I say so myself.

So, its all go, with Anthony down at Fablab (nel took them buns to keep them all happy and focused), and Nel's tidying up the workshop so we can get some photos done this afternoon. Better wash my paws, clean up my whiskers and brush off the old flat cap to look my best.

Oh yes, and if that wasn't enough, have a look at what that lovely lass from madaboutthehouse (www.madaboutthehouse.comhas put in the Independent today. We do like her!

Here's some  "before" pictures of CABLE - i'll put up some "after" ones tomorrow for you.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

it all going on up here

Right, whippet poised and ready to blog
there's been so much going on these last few months we've hardly had time to draw breath. Anthony is getting settled in the new workshop and turning it inside out and back to front. As long as he remembers my special corner thats OK. This is the upstairs which he has fancy notions about turning into a workspace to run upholstery classes in, and a gallery space. I've told him he needs to get new loos and a kitchen in first -  so he's on with that just now. Hes decided to put a mezzanine in while he's at it, so theres some offices and storage space, and last time I looked there was a fancy floating staircase. You'll understand me not venturing up it just yet...

Anyway, some of the other good things which have been happening are (deep breath)
- Lovely designmilk feature on his new CABLE range

- CABLE being shown at MADE NORTH

- Edna goes international - planning to take up residence in Beiruit and Holland this year

- Fantastic LUXE.TV coverage

- Mr Smith featured in Linda O'Keefe's forthcoming book about stripes in everyday design

- A lovely scale model of Mr Smith archived in the University of Oregon

- A very very exciting commission for a big anniversary of a well loved institution coming up next year....

And if all that weren't enough, that wretched feline beastie Alice has had to go to the vets three times! Oh, what a shame.... still, shes now immune from nuclear attack and whippet mind probes for another year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I wonder what will happen next?

Well, thats 2011 over and done with. A bit of a roller coaster with Anthony moving to Oxenhope and setting up his workshop with Al over in Slawit in January, and then the decision to do up the house, but they didnt get round to it and decided do Tent London instead. And then we had  all the excitement of Mr Smith the second being picked up by  blogs and articles all over the world, (we love Design Milk!) and then the two Ednas arriving,  and Sidney turning up at the last minute, packing the van with his paint still wet to head to London for Tent

Now you'd think that was more than enough bother for a while and that they could just settle down after getting back from London, but oh no, Anthony's off again with some new ideas. He'd hardly waved goodbye to Edna 3, who has gone to live in Worcestershire with the lovely Steve and his family, when he swept up all his drawings and disappeared into the workshop for 3 days, coming home with more coloured bits of wood, and lots of plastic bits which get under a whippet's paws like you wouldnt believe.

But Nel says to let him get on with it because at least we've got a dinner table and four chairs again. Me and Anthony couldnt see any problem with using the garden chairs and Anthony's workdesk for a few months more.... Mind you, she was well impressed with the new green and grey bench, and the little pink and grey  stool and the orange and black buffet too.

So now all they talk about is launching the Stitch collection this year. Well, apart from moving workshops again. This time its to a mill in Haworth, and the main reason is of course so that Anthony can take me with him every day. He's been muttering something about bigger workshop, gallery space upstairs, a photograpy studio and some classroom spaces to run courses, but its really all about having me with him all day. You see, he cant work without me.... and I really need to get away from the bloody cat Alice who torments me like you wouldnt believe.

I'll get him to take some photos of the new workshop in progress, and the special space set aside for my tartan blanket.

So, who knows what's in store for 2012, but as long as I can get some peace and quiet away from the Evil Feline One, I know it will be good.