Say hello to Paul Harcombe

Our building team is almost finished on the outdoor building work on HomeSquare, before they head upstairs to begin work on the new flats above the bakery.

Our trainees, David, Bradley and Leanne sat down for a chat with the site supervisor and their mentor, Paul Harcombe, for an early morning chat to talk carpentry, dog poo and what he’s learned so far.

How did you get into carpentry?

When I was 16 there was I scheme which I joined called YTS, set up by Margaret Thatchers Comrades. You went and learned a skill and earned jack-shit really; £ 29.50 per week. I came out of there having learned marquetry, which is wood veneering, carpentry, wood turning, upholstery and french polishing and so I picked up quite a lot of skills which are now transferable. It was well worth doing.

It was a 2 year course and I did 1 year of it and got a job through a company called Thorn EMI refurbishing veneers on televisions. In those days you’d rent the televisions from radio rentals.

How did you get involved in Homebaked?

I responded to an email which suggested that there might be an opportunity for me. They asked, ‘do you want to use your skills and give something back’ and I was well up for that.

It was the opportunity to share my skills with other people and see if it might be interesting for them. You learn quite a bit about yourself when you’re teaching, too.

What have been your memorable moments so far?

Funnily enough I had some photos of it out last night. When we were here on the first day cleaning all the dog poo up and Bradley fell in it. The first day, covered in shit.

Memorable? I think it was the early stages because nobody knew each other and we were all trying to find out who we all were.

What do you think of your nickname?

Mine is ‘Curly Head’ or something isn’t it?

It’s funny you ask that because it used to be that years ago, too. It hasn’t gone away.

Who’ve been the characters that you’ve met so far?

Everyone really because you’re around them a lot. I’m around you a lot, like it or lump it. I work Nicolas a lot, too.

What have you learned from Nicolas?

He’s one of the better architects I’ve worked with because he knows how to build as well, not just planning and drawing, but he knows how to build as well. A bit like Howard Hughes, who learned how to design an aircraft and learned how to fly it as well. Some architects don’t want to know, they give you a drawing and say ‘off you go’ and they’re never dirty, but Nicholas is right in there like a bull, he gets stuck in. That’s what I like about him.

What are you most looking forward to?

Teaching you how to make furniture, and how to design. Thats the main thing. I know that you’ll really love that.

You’ve worked in other places, where was your favourite place to work?

Australia, because the heat was manageable. The heat in Florida was heavy, too much.

I worked and travelled coast to coast. But I loved Sydney. I was there in 2001.

How did Liverpool change whilst you were away?

When I got back to Liverpool, health had become current, which I was quite surprised at. I’d loved in countries where health was consciously current all the time, but when I came back here and juice bars had popped up everywhere and people were getting into Yoga and training before they went to work.

New buildings, new sights, new bars and restaurants, new houses, areas disappeared. Loads new.


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