Chip

13 May

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David Stuart Littlewood was born in Huddersfield on March 21st 1930. He went to the Technical college at 14 to learn joinery, brick laying and draughtsmanship. His dad Arthur Littlewood enquired at the Co-op if they needed apprentices, they did and set David on at the age of 16. His mum Annie Littlewood nee Wild (from Waterford, Ireland) said “You be a carpenter lad, if it’s good enough for the Son of God, it’s good enough for you”.

Dad learned how to make everything from a coffin to a sash window, serving his apprenticeship for 5 years, then becoming a journeyman at 21. At the age of 26 Dad saw an advertisement placed by ‘Crown Agents’ in the local newspaper for tradesmen needed to teach building skills to local people in Nigeria for the British Government. John Longley, his best mate, encouraged him to apply.

When Dad eventually arrived in Lagos, Nigeria via steamer from Liverpool, thence train overland thousands of miles north to Kano on his 26th birthday in 1956 he discovered a dirty patch of earth. Enquiring of the local Chief as to where he was going to teach he was told “Right here, you build the college here”. So he did. He also met a very bonny Adrianna van de Poll, a Dutch air hostess with KLM. It turned out they both liked to rip it up on the dance floor. And that is how I came to be born in Kano in 1958.

There is an old French Carpenter’s saying that time is never wasted sharpening chisels. Here he is today at 84 in my workshop grinding his old chisels back and re-sharpening them on my old oilstone. “Excellent oilstone this son! You keep it really flat and true!” I hadn’t the heart to tell him that he had given it to me over 30 years ago along with many of his own tools when I was learning. I am a chip off the old block, having followed in his footsteps and the movements of his hands on the same oilstone.

Here is another chip off the same block, my brother Simon in San Francisco, pictured with his lovely daughter Percie. Simon is a carpenter too. 20140513-172059.jpg

We named our Tea Shop after our niece

Shop photo

…but we don’t serve chips here, only fine leaf tea in proper china pots on hand made tables, come and join us if you are passing 557 Abbeydale Road, Sheffield S1 7TA, England.

 

3 Responses to “Chip”

  1. forthewildandthefree May 28, 2014 at 4:13 am #

    If I still lived in England, I’d certainly come visit your tea shop!

    Your father reminds me of mine. He’s not a professional carpenter and hasn’t apprenticed anywhere but he can fix anything that’s broken, like a charm! And he’s 62 now but still does all the plumbing, wiring, handyman-type fix-it stuff and I’m always amazed by how much he knows. One day I want to make him a workshop like the one you have so he can spend all his waking hours tinkering with things- he would love that.

    You also have a beautiful niece 🙂

    • woodenhenk May 28, 2014 at 6:47 am #

      Your dad sounds ace. I asked mine the other day what he wanted for his birthday (84) he said “To wake up son, to wake up” – pithy

      • forthewildandthefree May 29, 2014 at 4:09 am #

        He still looks really active for an 84-year-old. More power to him and his tribe!

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