The past 12 years since I was so fortunate to receive a BBM Global Industry Scholarhbip have been a tremendous journey indeed. Traditional Timber Frames, the company I established on my return from the UK in 2009 currently has six employees, trained two apprentices, has constructed projects over much of Australia and has become quite renowned in a small but growing niche of finely crafted homes of eastern Australia.
We design and build traditionally crafted heavy timber frames (often called post and beam frames) using ethically sourced timbers for public buildings, barns, houses, garages, furniture, joinery and a range of other structures. We use tools and joinery methods that are traced back through the middle ages to ancient Rome, where the great villas of the Patricians were built in identical fashion to homes we build today.
The craft we specialise in is very rare in this country, so my opportunity to travel and learn from Masters in the UK as an apprentice was one of the major factors in me being able to establish this business and further my career.
I travelled to Wales in 2007 to learn this near forgotten craft from Master Carpenter Alan Ritchie. Upon returning home I set up shop in the back of my grandfather’s timber yard and began my timber framing journey. This has led to where we are today and where we will go in the future, creating the finest timber homes in Australia.
The BBM scholarship experience not only allowed me to learn the traditional craft skills that I now use every day, but the opportunity to travel abroad, meet different people, see different ways of life and learn so much about how to challenge myself and strive to learn new things and achieve new goals was so valuable.
It wasn’t always easy. I think opportunities when they arrive still require a lot of hard work, planning and dedication to make the most of them. BBM opened a door for me and I was totally committed to making the most of this. I left my leadership training in Wales, researched and travelled to find the best people I could learn from and with a huge amount of good fortune and kindness from others, was able to learn so many things that enriched my life and the skills I could bring home to Australia.
I build timber frames because I love the beautifully natural materials, the creative and technical skills required, the physical strength, handmade craftsmanship and the legacy these frames provide to the built environment. I believe that inspiration comes from those that have the care and skills to create beautiful things, and that trees and timber will save the world.
What advice would I have for other young people? Be nice to others, be committed to hard work, work out the things that are truly important to you and the people you care about and try to make the most of every opportunity that comes up. The combination of luck, hard work and commitment, combined with the tremendous generosity and opportunities provided by BBM, have helped me so much in my life so far. I strongly encourage every young person to look to the lessons of the people around them and we should all get involved with and support the team at BBM Youth Support.
Chris Nance, Director, Traditional Timber Frames Pty Ltd