Local firms scoop national award for wine cellar build

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bernard Thwaites of CAT Builders Bernard Thwaites of CAT Builders

A “MAGICAL” wine cellar described as “bonkers but brilliant” has won a national award for three local companies.

Tupgill Cellar at the Forbidden Corner tourist attraction, near Middleham, won the best craftsmanship category in the 2012 Brick Development Association Awards.

Architect Malcolm Tempest of Bedale; the York Handmade Brick Company of Alne, near Easingwold; and CAT Builders of Well, near Bedale, were all involved in the complex project.

Judges said it was “obvious”

to pick the cellar with its spectacular vaulted ceiling as the winner of the craftsmanship category.

They said a wide variety of handmade specials were personally designed by the manufacturer to initially prove its structural capabilities and especially commended the master craftsmen who worked on the project, describing their work as “outstanding” and “magical to look at”.

The citation added: “The wine cellar has also been classed as ‘bonkers but brilliant’ referring to the effort of all parties involved in creating a memorable space in which to socialise among friends over a good bottle of wine.”

Bernard Thwaites, managing director and founder of CAT Builders, said it was “fantastic”

to win the award for what had been one of the most challenging projects he had ever worked on.

It was unusual in that the cellar was built within an existing room which was longer than it was wide – making the vaulted ceiling particularly complicated to build.

His company, which began 23 years ago, specialises in restoring listed properties and buildings of interest including Jervaulx Hall, Studley Royal stable block, and The Ruin at Hackfall.

“But this was one of the hardest jobs I have ever done, partly because it was all done overhand,” said Mr Thwaites.

“Normally with a vaulted ceiling you would work looking down on it but we couldn’t this time because of the existing ceiling.”

It took Mr Thwaite and his specialist bricklayers Richard Ridley and Shaun Leckonby more than four months to complete.

The York Handmade Brick Company won two other categories at the awards which were announced at a presentation in the Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel, London.

They were for best single house for Four Oaks in Little Bedwyn, Wiltshire, and specialist brickwork contractor for Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester.

David Armitage, company chairman, said: “We are particularly proud to be involved in three fantastic projects this year, all of which have been honoured in the Brick Awards.

This is our best result ever in these awards.

“Huge thanks are due to the management team and employees at York Handmade for their imagination, enterprise and hard work, which all combined to make this success possible.”

One judge said of Four Oaks: “This was the highlight of all my viewings this year. The design of this fantastic building is ambitious with the rhythm of the landscape setting off the brickwork.”

And the judges commended Chetham’s School of Music for being “an outstanding showcase for brick. It is a tour de force of brickwork and the beauty of the design, choice of brick and impeccable detail are very difficult to find fault with”.

Mr Armitage said: “It is invidious to pick out specific York Handmade employees, because everyone has contributed to a tremendous year, but I would like to mention works manager Steve Pittham, who personally designed the special bricks for Tupgill, and Mark Todd, for their outstanding work.”

He added: “It is important to stress that our three winning entries were completely different jobs in design and execution, graphically illustrating our ability to work in a wide variety of colours and styles. We believe we can tackle any brickwork project successfully.”

Over the past decade York Handmade has been shortlisted in the Brick Awards four times and has won categories five times.

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