A scenic drive over Sutton Bank and through a handful of quaint, North Yorkshire villages brings us to Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe. A pretty village sitting at the foot of the North York Moors National Park, beneath the iconic Kilburn White Horse.
Beaver Furniture’s cottage-come-showroom is a cosy spot set back from the road, just steps from the family home. Beaver Lodge defies everything about a typical showroom. There’s nothing formal about the place, it’s a home from home – a place to browse, relax with a cuppa and chat. I’m in to catch up with David Glegg, a once aspiring apprentice who now heads up the Beaver business. We talk 50 years of family trade, bespoke furniture, manning the workshop and ensuring quality from start to finish.
The smell of fresh wood fills the air, taking me back to woodwork workshops at school. In some ways it’s familiar – there are lots of creative minds working; but in others, it’s so very different. This place is the real deal. There’s lots going on and it’s all done with exceptional character and quality.
The Beaver business was established in 1960 by David’s late father-in-law, Colin Almack. Colin’s carved ‘beaver’ trademark, which can be found on every piece of furniture, was inspired by watching wild beavers’ industriously using wood to build their dams and lodges. Colin soon became known as the ‘Beaverman’ and so long lives the beaver.
“Incorporating the trademark beaver into everything we do, we make predominantly in English oak and we specialise in dying our own oak,” says David.
“We have an incredibly skilled team, so we continue to make our standard range, but we also make bespoke furniture and commissioned pieces,” he adds.
The unique thing about Beaver Furniture is that it’s bespoke, it’s handmade and it’s a friendly, family-run business; so buyers can get involved in the process from start to finish. If being involved in the design work isn’t enough, buyers can also get hands-on in the workshop – discussing ideas and seeing it all come together.
“People like to hear the provenance of the wood and we like to invite clients in to go on a journey with their new piece of furniture,” says David.
“It’s all native oak – a lot of it being from Northumberland actually. Customers like to see that it’s being made uniquely for them and that it’s being made in a traditional way.”
David and his team of creative-markers have found that as the market place continues to change, trends are altering rapidly and customers are seeking out good quality fitted furniture as well as free-standing pieces. And with open-plan living areas and entertainment spaces becoming more and more popular in homes, David’s team are seeing a surge in large, English oak tables.
“People can eat on them, read the Sunday paper on them, have a coffee on them or hold large dinner parties. We’re seeing a lot of briefs centred on socialising at the moment. So in that sense, dining furniture is always going to be very popular.”
Being a Beaver Furniture customer is as much about the experience as it is the product. Clients can be involved in the whole process and have a say in everything from comfort to colour.
“We’re able to work round most budgets and strive to achieve what people want out of their new pieces, whether it’s a style alteration or a colour change for example.”
This Yorkshire-grown furniture business also work with local and national interior designers and architects to help create statement pieces.
“We’re very flexible with whom we deal with,” says David.
“Sometimes it’s just a chance one-off – an interior designer looking for something specific. But quite often, we build close relationships with these people and help each other out along the way.”
One thing that’s sure to set the business aside from any other furniture designs is the beaver itself. You’ll find the trademark in every piece ever made here; it’s very much at the centre of the business – hence the name.
“The beaver is very close to our hearts,” says David.
“And we’re a lot closer to it than some might think. It makes its living out of wood – just like we do!
“It’s the most industrious animal in the wood. And that’s where the inspiration came from.”
The illustrious beaver is something the team have become known for, not just locally, but nationally and also worldwide.
“There isn’t a continent we haven’t worked with,” says David.
“We’ve sent out to most big countries, but the home-grown market – the English market – is our primary market place; with Yorkshire and the North East being a huge part of that.”
Yorkshire is at the forefront of everything the guys do here at Beaver Lodge. Everything is made as locally as possible and handmade using local produce.
The business is keen to promote the community; buying local timber, employing local staff and continuing to train apprentices with a genuine love for the area as well as for the art of furniture making.
Its roots might be firmly placed in Yorkshire, but Beaver Furniture is taking the world with overseas customers checking in through recommendations.
“We now have some regular customers overseas, but the majority of our products go out across the country. We’ve recently had stuff sent down to Berkshire, across to Otley and up to County Durham, Gosforth and Northumberland – so it’s pretty spread out.”
“We don’t sell through third parties, but it is such a small world now that even though we’re based in a small village in North Yorkshire, we get into the North East, South Yorkshire and way beyond.”
After spending the morning wandering the workshop, getting to grips with the furniture and catching up over a cup of tea, I can confidently say that Beaver Furniture will soon have a place in my home. Sharing our love of Yorkshire and our excitement with luxe brands, it’s a friendly and professional family-run business offering a brilliantly bespoke service.
Look out for Beaver Furniture’s online blog where you can find all the latest news, designs and more.