Our building was built in the 1880’s with the first owners being a family firm of painters and decorators merchants. They made their own paints, delivered around Bristol by pony and trap. I’ve actually discovered and used some of the clear varnish they made on restoring a customers bamboo walking stick.
Next owners came in the 1930’s with a son trained as an upholsterer. Left heavy old upholstered arm chairs with fabric stripped off filling much of the building floor to ceiling. He eventually ended up selling antiques from the shop, but by the 1970’s seemed seldom open due to advancing age.
Bristol Design started in 1980 when I bought the then near derelict building at auction. I spent the first year rebuilding the roof, wiring, plumbing, rebuilding walls. The following many years usually have had some further building work to do on it.
As a business initially undertook general building work, often smaller jobs requiring multiple skills. The jobs too small for larger builders and more diverse then most small builders wanted. This evolved into designing and making custom furniture, but the workshop space is severely limited so larger jobs just couldn’t be accepted.
The shop was initially used to discuss furniture designs with customers then to store and display furniture jobs as they were finished. For some reason customers wanted to collect their finished furniture soon after it was done leaving the shop rather empty.
An often empty shop lead to displaying a few older tools just to have something in it. This lead to the sales of tools. With the frustration of the small workshop and the furniture customers’ complaints about my not being in when I was out buying wood it seemed sensible to concentrate mainly on the tool side of the business.
Selling tools also gives the options of using them and along with learning from numerous customers I hope we can honestly advise about potential purchases.