A focal point for our Japanese influenced garden and somewhere for me to watch the sport on TV with a beer or two, out of the sun on summer's days, listen to nostalgic music on summer's evenings, or when I'm gardening.
It took me two weeks to build in 1987. Based on photographs of Victorian era mansion owners' interpretations of Japanese tea- houses I'd researched in Manchester Central Library plus a fair bit of input from me. Many Victorian country house owners became fascinated with all things Japanese which had a great influence on their gardens and homes. It's made of rough sawn soft wood which I planed and sanded down and laminated roofing ply. But regular coats of Dulux mahogany Woodsheen have kept it free from rot. The doors and windows have opaque plastic panels instead of glass I have added some photos of the construction. Anyone with basic woodworking skills can manage it or something similar. The only tricky bits were shaping the turned up corners of the eaves. The centre door is attached by four bolts two, top and bottom and can be opened in either direction or completely removed. The two outside doors fold back against the inside walls of building. Power is supplied via an RCCB in a cable from the garage fuse box via an RCCB threaded through some alkathene pipe buried below the side fence. I can also turn on the exterior light and one internal light from a bank of four switches in our lounge. We have a lot of lighting in the garden, about a dozen different forms of lamps both mains and low voltage. We don't have them on for long "as the street lights dim when we do." The small Japanese acer in front was at that time being "trained." The bamboo canes had wires connected to the branches of the tree to encourage it to assume its present "dome shape" as you can see in the later "snowy" picture and like the big one in the video. The tea-shed comes into its own in hot sunny weather. It is quite cool in there with the doors open because of big overhang of the roof. My two jukeboxes sit side by side along the back wall. They weigh over 600lb between them, but the building easily takes the weight. These machines are filled with records I enjoy listening to from various ages of my life, that I've more recently collected. Many are "mint" copies from the USA. The first one is a Rock- Ola 468 Grand Salon from 1977; these were designed for posh pubs and hotel lounges, a complete change from the "silver age" ones more frequently seen in cafes, etc. The graphic is a reproduction of Monet's "Sous les peupliers, effet de soleil." This one has a selection of mostly Motown and some 50/60s classic USA pop. I bought the second to expand my collection (yes I know, I could have bought an i-Pod, but it isn't the same is it?) It's a Rock- Ola 443 from 1969. This offers a choice 70/80s MOR pop, Doo-Wop, classic standards and jazz. I've given this one a bit of a "tart up." I've re- made the coloured graphic behind the "windows" above the bass speakers. You can see in the first photo that the original was very faded and was annoying me. I made subsequent changes until in the latest photo I got it as close as I could to the original. The old/fridge freezer had to go for me to get the new jukebox in, but I've replaced it with a small "Budweiser" fridge for my beers and the odd bottle of wine. I've other musical interests, electric piano, alto & tenor sax. These plus the jukeboxes actually in our house would be "pushing it a bit" for my long- suffering wife, so I'm happy with the jukes being at the bottom of the garden. They're far enough away from neighbours not to cause annoyance and I don t play them that often... The 468 is shown playing at the end of the main video which starts with a tour of the garden ending with the tea- house. If you are interested in seeing the 443 and this link doesn't work http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=YoiSz0KNPi8 look up "Rock- Ola 443" on YouTube. I've added quite a few videos of it playing different classics, for my fellow jukebox enthusiasts. Update; May 2010. I've also added a night time photo showing the opaque white windows in the tea- house doors. The usable interior space is only 9ft by 6ft, but becomes 9ft by 9ft with the doors open. I had to swop the bigger TV for the small portable on a bracket in the corner. I made an enclosure below it for a Freeview box. If you've read this far down, I thank you for taking the time and the interest you've shown in my shed. Edit September 2010. I've recently re-placed the roofing felt on this building and added two photos of the completed job. I used a heavy duty non-tear 40g felt, I'm sure this will see me out. I made a new hardwood frame for the "crown" the decoration is made from a dado molding. The corner "curly bits" are decorated with half golf balls. After all, it's just a shed! The Japanese theme is continued around the garden with two big 4' 6" pedestal lanterns I made from concrete and this six-foot pagoda which is as authentic as is possible making it mostly from concrete. I like to think this building enhances the ambiance of the garden despite it being not much more than a glorified shed.