Rick catapults to London success

A SUFFOLK carpenter's latest work is something of a throwback which is today being featured in the Tower of London.

Naomi Cassidy

A SUFFOLK carpenter's latest work is something of a throwback which is today being featured in the Tower of London.

Thousands of visitors to the huge tourist attraction will be able to marvel at the work of Rick Lewis of Needham Market who has created huge replicas of medieval siege weapons including two 15ft catapults.

Mr Lewis, who owns Traditional Oak Carpentry in Needham Market, was commissioned to do a massive project for one of capital's top attractions as part of its latest display.

He is going to visit the Tower with his family next week to see the three large siege machines he helped to make in all their glory.

Together with four members of his team, it took about three weeks to complete building the two catapults and a spring weapon, which fired arrows.

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One of the weapons is purely decorative as it has been set up to show how it would have worked, however the other two machines are fully operational and visitors can have a go at trying them out. They are designed to last for ten to 20 years.

Mr Lewis, 42, from Bacton, jumped at the chance to do the project after he heard about it through an old friend. His company, set up in 1994, repairs medieval and Tudor house frames.

He said: “I do heavy oak framing so this was about using existing skills and tools we have. I also know a bit about the subject and have always been interested in medieval military stuff.

“They wanted the siege machines to be a reasonable size so I looked at 13th, 14th and 15th century illustrations to get an idea for the design.

“It was a big challenge. The thing was we couldn't tell if it would work until it was finished. Luckily we didn't have to make any modifications. It was a big relief.

“We went to set them up at the Tower but I shall be going back next week with my family as a tourist to see how other people react. I also want to check everything is ok with them.

“I've been told they have been a huge hit with adults as well as children. It was nice to create something interactive that everyone can enjoy.”

The replicas were built using ash wood from Suffolk and oak from Norfolk.

As well as the full size working siege weapons in the moat, there is also a metalwork garrison of six steel soldiers stationed on the battlements as part of the exhibition on attacking and defending the UK's premier fortress.

The weapons will be on display at the Tower until next July.

-Have you or your company taken part in an interesting project? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Fastfacts

- The Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror as a fortress in the 11th century

- During its many years the Tower has been used as a royal residence, prison, armoury, zoo, treasure house and storehouse

- Today it is still a working fortress with a military presence

- There are daily ceremonies that take place including the Ceremony of the Keys to secure the Tower for the night

- The community of Beefeaters and Tower officials still live at the Tower with their families.

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