CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Building a new future

PUBLISHED: 09:00 16 February 2014

Mike Parr and Bob Johnson

Mike Parr and Bob Johnson

MATT AUSTIN

After years of working on theatre sets in a small workshop, two carpenters are moving on. ELLIS TAYLOR reveals the history, and the future, of the duo

Photos by Matt Austin

Inside the Northcott workshopInside the Northcott workshop

The Exeter Northcott Theatre has been a cultural landmark within the city for many years. Providing entertainment, jobs, and possibilities for hundreds of people within the community.

Although the theatre no longer produces, the shows created at Exeter Northcott in the past often had impressive sets and scenery which transported the audience into a different world. These carefully crafted creations were the handiwork of Mike Parr and Bob Johnson, who were both part of Exeter Northcott’s workshop team.

“Mike has been here since before the very beginning. The theatre opened in 1967 and we worked on sets between then and roughly 1995,” explains Bob. “Our set building days gradually wound down - in the hay day it was flat out. Sometimes there would be 20 people on the team.”

“It was a big team. Massive money, massive sets,” adds Mike, who helped build the theatre in 1966. “I was there all the way through. There was just two of us to start with then everyone came. Then, once the theatre had been built, they were advertising for a master carpenter to build sets, so I applied for the job.

“I moved into Reed hall first, then they found me the workshop which was the gardener’s shed. Then I built the first set. For the first couple of months it was just me in the workshop.”

Now, Mike and Bob have had to leave the ‘shed’ and move their carpentry business, JKP Joinery, to a larger and more modern workshop in Thorverton.

“We’re currently building for a production of Starlight Express. We’re still closely linked to the Northcott and are still involved with theatre and sets; we also build some sets for commercial photographers,” says Bob.

“We’ve been commissioned to build a big piece for next summer which we’re not allowed to talk about, there is stuff planned for the future.”

Mike and Bob have also worked with heritage sites such as Tuckers Hall, Tiverton Canal, and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. As well as this, the duo work on residential projects including orangeries and kitchens.

Whilst Mike and Bob have an exciting future with JKP Joinery, it is an end of an era for the small workshop, tucked away in the University of Exeter, plastered with posters of past shows.

With so many years, sets, shows, and people passing through the workshop, what is one of their best memories?

“We had some fantastic parties here,” says Mike. “But we had so many people in the workshop that the floor started to give way so we had to stop!”

jkpjoinery.co.uk
More information on the workshop as part of Exeter Northcott’s archive project can be found on northcottarchive.wordpress.com

More from People

Yesterday, 13:13

Actor Tom Burke talks to JUDI SPIERS about his production of Don Carlos staged by his own theatre company Ara, in association with Exeter’s Northcott Theatre

Read more
Wed, 11:54

In the latest in her series throughout 2018 profiling inspirational women, KATE HASKELL talks to England Women’s Cricket Captain, Heather Knight

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

There is more to Georgia Toffolo than an award-winning TV show, as HOLLY EELLS discovers

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

Striving to be the best in the world, homegrown Devon professional squash player Lyell Fuller is seeking sponsorship to help reach his goal. KATE WILLAMS finds out more

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tavistock Rugby Club in Devon is celebrating after being awarded a grant of £2,500 to fund private showers for referees at their Sandy Park ground, as part of rural energy provider Calor’s annual funding scheme

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Devon’s Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, also known as The Black Farmer, tells KATE WILLIAMS about his new book, Jeopardy, encouraging the embracing of risk to enrich life

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As five members of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton celebrate 125 years of collective volunteering, we look back on their time with the organisation

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

CAROLYN SEAGER reveals how long after her mother’s death she discovered her amazing career in the service of her country

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An author known for her novels depicting life on the Channel Islands is nonetheless happiest writing from home here in Devon

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fig Tree Court is a development of 14 apartments in Tiverton for retired and semi- retired over-55s with gorgeous views over the Grand Western Canal

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Alex Green goes behind the scenes on the Dartington Hall Estate to find a community of artists, makers, farmers, and social entrepreneurs living out the legacy of its founders

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Many people know of award-winning Roly’s Fudge, but do they know how much hard work and business insight goes into making it?

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Topsham businessmen Steve Williams and Pete Woodham-Kay take an ethical stance on eating meat | Photos: Nick Hook

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

As llama love grips the nation, we meet a Dartmoor couple who have spent the last 11 years making them their livelihood | Words: Lydia Tewkesbury

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search