Carpenter Oak were contracted to build and install a new viewing tower at the maze in 2004. Designs were drawn up for a Douglas fir framed structure and six raised bridges.
The design is akin to a spiral staircase, with the majority of its weight being taken on a central pillar that is located onto a steel pin in foundations at its base.
Estate Sourced Timber
One of the highlights of the process was sourcing all the timber for the project from Longleat Estate itself. Carpenter Oak enlisted a local sawyer to mill and cut each section required to a cutting list. The most important section, the Douglas fir central pillar, was selected from the stand of trees that were originally intended for the masts of tall ships. The chosen piece was arrow straight and a near-perfect circular cross section.
The cut timber was delivered to our nearby Wiltshire yard, where the pillar was laid flat on a pivot and spun until perfectly circular along its entire length. Laying out the frame from the main pillar, a plywood disk with registration points was laid then rotated for each frame.
On site installation
To prevent us losing an entire team of carpenters to the maze, a scaffold was constructed over the maze from the lower location to an area outside the perimeter, where the setting out for the prefabricated sections took place before a crane facilitated assembly within the maze.
Exposure to heavy footfall and the elements eventually led to the end of the structure’s natural life, after many years of use and enjoyment by visitors to the maze.
Finished images courtesy of Longleat Enterprises