All aboard for new play park

Eric Minogue's construction for Holmbush Farm World. Picture by Daniella de Nobrega
Eric Minogue's construction for Holmbush Farm World. Picture by Daniella de Nobrega
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A Billingshurst builder has spent months constructing a large wooden ship to offer children a new and exciting place to play.

Eric Minogue, who lives in Billingshurst, started to build the nautical playground at the end of February for Holmbush Farm World, on the A264 at Faygate, which is set to open in time for the summer holidays.

“I do extensions and conversions and that sort of thing but I haven’t done anything like this before,” said the 53-year-old who owns Eric Minogue General Builders.

“It’s been a very interesting project and I’ll probably never get the chance to do another one.”

The ship measures roughly 60ft long, 18ft wide with the mast a height of 27ft. It is made out of chestnut pine from the grounds it is built on.

Louise Hurdman, manager of Holmbush Farm, said: “We were looking to replace an old play area with something a bit more challenging, huge and in your face.

“We flicked through a few play catalogues and thought that because we mill our own wood here and have quite a big forestry enterprise that we could probably do our own ship. Eric done some work for us before, building a castle once inside the barn for us, so he was the obvious man for the job.”

The project, which will be a permanent fixture, was supposed to be finished last winter but it wasn’t possible due to weather conditions.

Eric added: “The weather has been an absolute nightmare as you would imagine but structurally we coped as we went along.

“It’s been really good. You can see it from the road and even from the car park it’s the first thing you see. I also did a bit of research at Chatham dockyward to get some ideas.”

Louise added: “We’re hoping it will be up and running with the sand underneath in time for the summer holidays this year.

“It’s fabulous,” she continued. “Eric is really good to work with because I can just throw ideas at him and he will run with them he’s very artistic for a carpenter. He’s not run of the mill at all.”