Northwich Makerspace

Engineer, inventor and World Record holder Colin Furze gets behind town’s new scheme.

We Brits love the eccentric, and when renowned inventor and engineer Colin Furze recently hit the headlines after digging a secret tunnel under his house to a shed at the end of his garden, many thought that was his craziest project yet.  The Youtuber has a whopping 12.9 million subscribers on his own channel, and is a regular on our TV screens.  He’s had many epic challenges and projects over the years with World Speed Records and some of the most wacky inventions and innovations you can imagine.  But his latest involvement with a project is right here in Northwich and is something that’s set to benefit the entire town.

A few years ago, Cheshire businessman Jonathan Shone of Shadow Foam Ltd in Northwich had a dream.  And with support from local businesses and local people, that dream is already on the way to becoming a reality as the building of the new Northwich Makerspace is now well underway.  Jonathan explains,
“For the past few years I’ve being working on the idea of a Community Makerspace for the people of Northwich.  There are a few operations like this around the country but we’re very much going to bring an inclusive, vibrant and innovative feel to this community workshop.”  
The Northwich Makerspace idea was put on hold originally due to the pandemic, but was resurrected again a couple of months ago when the ideal unit on Cosgrove Business Park in Anderton became available.  And since then things have moved very quickly.

The social enterprise had so far been funded by Jonathan alone, supported by a well-backed crowd-funder campaign where locals and businesses pledged donations and reserved memberships to help develop the space into something special for the people of the area.

“Northwich Makerspace is a place to learn, share, experiment and create. Whilst it’s being set up and operated by us, ultimately it will be funded by its members who can then shape and grow the facility as they need it for themselves and others, so they can continue to benefit from it for years to come.”
Jonathan is keen to show his gratitude to all the supporters of the project so far, and is regularly sharing updates on social media of how the facility is progressing.  His ‘shoestring’ approach to acquire only the best equipment for the Makerspace but at the best possible prices has been serious work, but has happened at pace. Within days of getting the keys to the unit, a new resin floor was laid, and building work on the reception and the Fab Lab tech area started.  Now, a new mezzanine level has been installed and most of the earmarked equipment has been sourced and is just awaiting installation as the build progresses.  

But now, the project has taken an even more exciting turn.  Northwich Makerspace now also has the backing of inventor Colin Furze, and is set to benefit from the unique energy and ideas that only an innovator like he can bring. Jonathan and Colin go back a few years now; Colin is a frequent user of Shadow Foam and has become a friend of the business over the years.  This year at the popular Makers Central event at Birmingham NEC Jonathan and Colin worked together on a film that gave tips to other makers and inventors on how to get started in the business.  During their chat there, Colin told Jonathan, 

“I sometimes wish I could put a USB stick in my head, download what I’ve seen and put it out there.” 

And from that, an idea was born… why not do just that?!  If it’s possible to tap into the knowledge, experience, skills and expertise of one of the UK’s best loved makers, then why not get him involved with the new Makerspace project?  When the two first spoke about it, it was clear that the vision for the Makerspace was one which Colin also shared;

 “It’s such a great idea.  My wife and I have discussed doing something similar in our home town of Stamford (Lincolnshire) We  had even found an appropriate location, but sadly due to Covid had to park the idea.  So we’re really happy to support Jonathan in the Northwich Makerspace as proof of concept, then hopefully it’s something that we can look together at, with a view to rolling out elsewhere in the future too.”

With the irrepressible Furze now firmly on board supporting Jonathan and team with the creation and future of Northwich Makerspace, the energy and buzz about the facility is really starting to build. The project has already surpassed it’s minimum number of required memberships to make the project viable, and with the pace of work continuing to escalate as we head towards the end of the year, a New Year opening for the facility is still very much on the cards.  Jonathan reminds us of the importance of people in the local area getting behind this project,

“We’ve been gutted to see the closing of three fantastic, established local businesses in this past month.  The Seafarer and Hormbery’s are a huge loss to the area after so many years in business.  As is the closing of our neighbours, Northwich Antique Centre, from where we’ve created many an upcycling or re-purposing project, and only recently made a Youtube video with them in there.  We  feel that Northwich Makerspace could be the positive news story and injection of support for grass-roots and start-up creative enterprises that our area could really use right now.”

More than that though, Northwich Makerspace is set to be a positive and vibrant part of the community for many years to come.  It’s not just for businesses though, it’s for hobbyists and home DIY-ers alike.  Jonathan adds,

“We are going to see people making new friends and acquiring new skills here.  Taking on projects that they may never have been able to dream of at home or on their own, as well as supporting people in starting new enterprises, expanding on side-hustles or even forging entirely new career paths.  It can be a sanctuary, an escape from the stresses of real life or a respite from loneliness to some, whilst being a creative network and hive of activity for others.”  

For many this could even just be about space.  Freeing up valuable room at home by working in a safer environment, more conducive to their crafts or businesses.  Northwich Makerspace will be literally become whatever people need it to be as it will be shaped and grown by it’s members.  And now, excitingly, by the creative input of one of the World’s best known makers, Colin Furze, too. 

It’s not too late to support the space or become a member, for more information visit the Northwich Makerspace website at www.northwichmakerspace.co.uk

Pictured: Youtuber Colin Furze and Northwich’s Jonathan Shone

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