UK BBQ Mag Spring 2017 - Page 21

Here's a little introduction to my building traditional or..."Pompeii" wood-fired ovens....
After 20 years of working as a bricklayer/stonemason in the UK, I moved to France and gained much stone masonry experience working for "Chez Bennateau"...a stone masonry company renovating castles and churches in the Vendee region of France. I then moved to Germany and ended up as the General Foreman of all masonry works on the prestigious new "Potsdamer Platz" Mercedes Benz/Sony building in Berlin.....the largest building site in Europe at that time.
On returning to the UK in 2002 I needed work, but I also needed a new challenge. I always wanted to build a castle but people nowadays won't wait 400 years for completion of works....impatient bastards!!....I then thought of building a brick Catalan vaulted arch but there wasn't a need for that in the terraced houses of South Wales. I then saw a documentary called "Pompeii uncovered" and was fascinated with all the bread ovens that had stayed intact even after the pyroclastic flow of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D........ I needed to know more....I wanted to build one!!.
I hadn't yet embraced the internet so I built one in my back yard using a picture as a guide. Although my first pizza oven looked good, it wasn't correctly built with the dimensions and insulation not quite right. After this I decided to introduce myself to the internet to find a bit more info on my new found hobby.
The only forum that I found was an American forum who were quite unfriendly and sometimes downright rude to questions from chaps from the UK......so I decided to create a UK forum for enthusiasts in the UK hoping to recruit members who were willing to share a little knowledge of wood-fired oven building. I really hoped that a few members would join so as I could gain a little more knowledge. I soon had 10 members......then 50, then 150...then 1500 and double that. I learned so much knowledge from my members that I could also give advice to newbies looking for answers to their questions.
I then started to build Pompeii ovens.....still as hobby building one for my boss....at that time, then as my name "got around" I would be contacted by schools and colleges and I would travel the country building bread/pizza ovens for communities along with a few private commissions only managing to cover my expenses. My reward was to pass on knowledge to others so they could carry on the beautiful art of creating their own wood-fired ovens.
I can no longer spend the time to answer all the questions of my forum, but thankfully it seems to run itself and is a major source of info to those people who would like to build a traditional bread/pizza for themselves. I couldn't have furnished all that info myself and I'm truly indebted to the likes of Marcus Bawdon whose input made all the difference.
A 2 year spell at Kate Humble's rural skills school in Monmouthshire as Clay oven tutor has also given me a better insight into cob oven building. Many of the students on that course have contacted me for help in building their own oven.....I love it.

Visit Terry's site Celtic Wood Fired Ovens

Or visit UK Wood Fired Oven Forum