Wheelchair Woodworking #10: Victorian Workshop from Scratch

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Jamie Speirs posted 12-18-2010 02:44 PM 5239 reads 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: Right hand man Gordon part two Part 10 of Wheelchair Woodworking series Part 11: Pool Champion »

Victorian Workshop from Scratch

Well have you ever considered what your dream workshop would consist of? Of course we all have.
Well four weeks ago my wife (Shirley) shows me a picture of an old Victorian Building. My jaw dropped it was my type of building. I said is that in case we win the Lottery, we laugh but she has that look in her eye (you know the one “I’ve nearly tamed you therefore I can do anything look”. She then suggests that we could go out to lunch at the Holy Bush, a local restaurant on the outskirts of Holy bush village in Ayrshire. While were out says she we could go past that Victorian House. That was not a request, in the forces we called it an order. So on goes the Satnav and were heading out on the Dalmellington Road and passing by the Holybush restaurant, not a murmur. So we arrive at the Dunaskin Heritage Centre. It is an Historical Monument with it’s own full size steam engines. I happen to love steam; I have a fully working scale model steam engine in my living room. Well where else should I keep it? LoL Yes, I have said it before an Angel for sure. I wander! So we draw up to this massive Victorian Stone building with a Slate roof. The style is classic Victorian Industrial architecture, it is an old works offices. In fact they were the offices of “The Dalmellington Iron Company”. 1848 – 1921, my jaw was fully dropped, not only was it beautiful architecturally but it was huge. I mean enormous huge.

In the photo it looks like a normal wee hoose. If you look at the door that is ten foot tall.
So we head back towards the Restaurant she decides against lunch, seriously where is the real wife? This woman even turns down picking up a KFC. She now wants all the facts and figures.

So we are able to get a viewing on the Monday. Shirley agrees to going in my van rather than the car. At least I think it is her as my real wife prefers travelling by car.
I wander!
The size is 20×30ft and an eleven foot ceiling.. Now I turn left into the sitting room or “Parlour” it is all been left in the 1800’s décor even an old carpet. A cast Iron fireplace with ornate ceramic tiles. It has a huge Bay Window. They still have all the closing full height internal Shutters.

I go into the entrance hall. It is big, I know Lilredweldingrod my buddy fae Texas Rand is probably going to think it quite small as far a Texas sizes. But Rand that is why your forefathers crossed the pond. To build big.

You can see that they a brown gloss paint. I think they will strip and come up nice with just wax. I know that traditionally they would also have been painted, but If I remove the paint and put oil & wax into them they will last longer and easier to maintain.
I wander! From the bay window you are looking out towards the remote rural valley of the Doon, once revered by Robert Burns when he wrote the lines “Ye Banks and Braes o’ Bonny Doon” was transformed in a matter of a few years into a busy industrial complex by the foresight, ingenuity and business flair of the Houldsworth family.

So now I go into the Shrine Room, 36×22ft now that is big, this picture shows you the windows and the next one show the door into my Shop.

This view shows these scars still in the land, yet if blends in with this rural rustic charm o’ the River Doon. This room is 24×22ft, It would look great with Greene & Greene furniture. (What do you mean they did not export to Scotland, It could have been sent back with one Lilredweldingrod of Rand’s family in Texas??). What do you think? May be to new for G&G?

So now I’m in my new Dream Shop. It has two huge windows, it is a heavy T&G floor with industrial carpet tiles. My brain has gone haywire. You would need an Enigma Machine to decode my thoughts. Ok size matters in a Shop, so what have I got. Now it is a wee bit of a maze.

This picture shows the two storey building I’m in. It is part of the house, no more chiselling ice off the locks to get in if the snow is not to deep, then trying to get the shop temp above -9 deg. Go to the shop in my slippers with the newspaper and a cuppa Tea. Go through LJ’s projects say hi to buddies. I wander! So this room is 24×24ft not bad? Now I’m into the finishing room 12×24ft could work, now my office 12×9ft breath in, boiler room 9×9ft ideal for compressor. Breathe in more A toilet with basin, to small for a wheelchair. A a wee tea room wi a sink. A space with 12×12ft with passage leading out to the shop entrance. And here is a treat 20×5ft passage. The ideal place for my wall mounted panel saw. So this gives me a ground floor shop of 1200ft2 and 1200ft square offices stores and dispatch upstairs. Oops! I cant get up there. So I cant do any paperwork, what a pity so sad. LoL Ok so a description of upstairs will come later. When I translate Shirley’s 3million word description down to a couple of paragraphs. Be patient It may take a while.
So we continue the tour. There is a centre garden cloistered with a walk all round, a couple of windows have been sealed up (dam window tax, they started taxing the Scots by how many windows they had, so us canny Scots bricked up the windows and those were the dark ages. LoL). Still they can be opened up later. Now I’ve found a disabled toilet (handicapped is rude in the UK) with baby changing facilities, now a Gents toilet, wow! Three urinals, three stalls and 3 basins and it has an opaque glass roof. Now there is a Ladies, ok Shirley is with me. Nice, bright also with opaque glass room, three stalls three basins. Something missing. I’m not slow. No Urinals I announce to the Sales Person. My darling wife draws me a look, you know the one “I’ve never been so embarrassed in my in my life look”.
Boy I know that look.
I had to see a consultant last year and Shirley wants to come with, you know “mummies wittle boy”. You will not ask the right questions, you will…............ you get it. So I go into the Consultants room and Shirley follows on (uninvited) so I say to the Consultant, “I hope that you don’t mind my wife coming with? But she has a Dementia and I’m scared she may wander.
NOW! The look I got then….............................. It is a wee joke with us as Shirley Specialises in Geriatric Mental health and is doing her Masters in Dementia. Ok, it took her a wee while to forget that one, weeks of odd looks. I think I may have wandered. It seems that there will never be a queue for the bathroom in our hoose. So I’ve found another courtyard, this backs onto the shop. Now this might make a better area for the compressor, dust extraction and I could put up a fair sized cyclone. It is also ideal for gas & paint store.. It is getting better every minute.

Now I’ve found a kitchen, 12×24ft, bare room. A pantry and scullery are behind this 10×24ft. Now there is a dinning room 24×50ft, could get a few LJ’s in for Lunch Dave and Buddy, no cat doors, however there are a couple of 150’ Victorian chimneys, sure beat a fire hydrant for Buddy. Next room is a Master Bedroom that is a nice 24×20ft. Ok for me I’ve died and gone to heaven. So we bid the Sales person a fond farewell and sit in the car looking at each other both jaws fully dropped. We want it, but how are we going to fund it? Can we afford it even?

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

21 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4367 days

#1 posted 12-18-2010 03:20 PM

oh you big tease ….
what a magnificent place!! And your Lady truly is an angel :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View mafe's profile


11741 posts in 3295 days

#2 posted 12-18-2010 03:25 PM

My good G.. that is amazing Jamie.
Now I understand the joy when you wrote me.
Do you think there can be a guest room hidden somewhere?
This place sure is a dream, a completely fantastic dream, and it can make you a absolutely fantastic workshop.
You can make classes there.
You can set the second floor for rent, to help with the payments – perhaps for some artists or so.
Or a meditation center (ok perhaps you will make toio much noice, unless you make classes like ‘how to meditate in a noice’).
My oh my, even I get completely full of fantasy and happyness, by watching that place.
Best thoughts from my heart,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3321 days

#3 posted 12-18-2010 03:56 PM

yeas its a wonderfull place you have Jamie
I lookforward to see the next installment…LOL

take care

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3918 days

#4 posted 12-18-2010 03:57 PM

An amazing building. Are mafe’s suggestions something that would work, as they sound like a real good way to offset some of the cost. If you are thinking of establishing a school there may be corporate sponsorships or government grants, particularly if you are focusing on teaching the disabled or other special interest groups. I am not sure how interest rates are where you are but here they are at historic low levels so it is a great time to buy property (I guess you would have to budget for the rates going up after the life of the mortgage).

You could run a hotel for roving LumberJocks! I’d love to see your part of the world!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3291 days

#5 posted 12-18-2010 05:12 PM

Wonderful old home, shop, school and/or whatever you want to call it. I imagine you are feeling about the
same way I felt when I first saw our present home. I hope your story has as happy an ending as mine.
After quite a few years, I am still in a remodel/rebuild state, but that is what makes a house a home, fixing
it your own way. Thank you for sharing, and I am sure all of the rest of the LJs are praying that your dreams
become reality.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Brit's profile


7547 posts in 3049 days

#6 posted 12-18-2010 05:29 PM

Nice property Jamie with a lot of potential.

I thought the garden was a bowling green when I first looked at it. I know from experience that it’s a lot of work rennovating a property, but worth it in the long run if you’ve both fallen in love with it.

Hope you find a way.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3062 days

#7 posted 12-18-2010 05:37 PM

Debbie Moi? (in a Scottish/French accent) Ok, since posting we have had an email accepting our offer.
Let the dream begin.

Mads I thought you would like it. Wonderful ideas. There will of course be a room and a warm welcome for you and Caroline. I’ll gather some of the Frogs that it has been raining here in Scotland and make a famouse French Dish. LoL (PM between Mad’s and I).

Dennis thanks

Mark yes, these are going to be things that we will be doing. Mafe aka Mads and I are in contact with each other on a regular basis. Alas the government has put up so much red tape, that to be able to do what I do I just self fund. We don’t get any corporate interest, I’ve had students purchase from one manufacturer here in the UK, their Lathes tools and chucks and yet they will give no discount. There have been a few hundred students over the years.

Gus I need lessons. Shirley is preparing a “To Do List” of things she wants done before we move in. I think she is under the impression that once we move in that all half finished work will remain that way. LoL
She is insisting on a kitchen & bathroom. Crazy things like that. DC is far more important. Also where to put a “Torque Centre”.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3062 days

#8 posted 12-18-2010 05:39 PM

Andy it is a bowling green. :)
we both play lawn bowls. Well I dont now as they are not to keen on tyre marks on the green.
It is a wee bit o heaven.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4367 days

#9 posted 12-18-2010 05:44 PM

first, yes – you!!!

I can’t imagine wanting the kitchen and bathroom completed first – who needs to eat or pee?

Of course we have to remember which angel it was that found this place…

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3331 days

#10 posted 12-18-2010 07:26 PM

I don’t even like to think of this as I will turn into a green eyed monster!!!!! I want it, I want it, I want it!!!!


View Schwieb's profile


1872 posts in 3667 days

#11 posted 12-18-2010 08:19 PM

What a great place and wonderful opportunity for you Jamie (and Shirley) I am looking forward to hearing more about it and what comes of all this.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3313 days

#12 posted 12-18-2010 08:55 PM

Wonderful! Jamie, I think you have your Artist in Residence with Jordan. lol And If Shirley works this right, each visiting LJ will have to build a wall for her to her specs. lol But be careful, as Jordan might fill the Bowling Green with marble sculptures. lol
All that room and the view of the River Doon and it’s valley. And I can see relay stations for electric chairs as you will wear yourself out in a manual one trying to just get around in that castle.
If you do this right, your can tear it down, mark each brick and bring it over to Lake Havasu, Arizona and reassemble it next to the London Bridge. Then I can run over every other weekend. lol And the new view? The beautiful Colorado River and it’s valley of Mojave sand. lol Not a tree any where to spoil the view. lol
One question; Is there a moose loose aboot the hoose?
All joking aside, I think this is a wonderful thing for you and Shirley. I could not be happier for you. Good things come to good people. Keep us updated on the move and the settling in.
Best wishes to you and Shirley, Rand

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3146 days

#13 posted 12-18-2010 09:35 PM

Wow, amazing space!

I understand now, congrats man!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3708 days

#14 posted 12-19-2010 12:17 AM

Fabulous News, Jamie, Congratulations!!!
You are a lucky man, my Friend… Married to an Angel, and moving into a Woodworkers Heaven!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3980 days

#15 posted 12-19-2010 12:18 AM

It sure looks like a woodworkers dream come true. You have a big enough area to do what ever you want in the shop and home. Someone had a good idea to rent part of it out if you do not need it all. I am impressed that your Scottish women give you the look and make To Do List for you men. I thought that was only American women that did that. It must be a mother daughter thing, world wide, that is passed down thru the generations. Because all men know what you mean, BY THE LOOK!! I am very happy for you two guys. Merry Christmas.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics