David Wyatt, Works Manager

“The Works team comprises of 25 experienced electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, carpenters, joiners and handymen. Many have longstanding connections with the Estate with one member of staff working at Cowdray for over 50 years, and two others for nearly 50 years.”

Meet the Team with David Wyatt, Works Manager here at Cowdray 

  1. What is your role as the Works Manager at Cowdray?

I’m part of the senior management team for Cowdray Estate and run the Operational side of the Works department. The main objective is to work with the team and oversee the maintenance of the houses and commercial properties across the Estate as well as to carry out extensive renovation projects.

Cowdray has a diverse property portfolio ranging from one to seven-bedroom houses as well as flats and commercial properties. The Works team also look after the roads, bridges and ditches belonging to the Estate.

2. When did you start at Cowdray, and what attracted you to work on the Estate?

I started at Cowdray seven years ago in November 2015 as the Maintenance Manager; a year and a half later I was promoted to Works Manager.

My wife saw the job advertised and we came to look at Cowdray when the polo was on and thought what a lovely place. Once I had been offered the job, my wife and I moved from Hampshire to Midhurst.

3. What is your background prior to becoming Works Manager?

My Dad’s a carpenter and I started working for a local building company when I was 13. I had a choice of carpentry or bricklaying but didn’t fancy carpentry so trained as a bricklayer instead carrying out a three-year apprenticeship from the age of 16. I then went on to carpentry.

I’ve worked for a TV broadcaster building sets in TV studios as well as bricklaying in Australia before training and qualifying as a construction site manager back in the UK. I then started at Cowdray and have since qualified with the Chartered Institute of Building. I also have my AssocRICS certificate.

4. Can you describe your team and their different professions?

The Works team comprises of around 25 experienced electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, carpenters, joiners and handymen. Many have longstanding connections with the Estate with one member of staff working at Cowdray for over 50 years, and two others for nearly 50 years.

5. Are apprenticeships encouraged at Cowdray?

Very much so, apprentices are key members of the team. As a prominent local employer in the area, we are proud to support young people helping them to develop their skills and to gain trade qualifications which creates a foundation for their future careers.

Because of the breadth of work at Cowdray, we can offer apprentices a range of different experiences and they also have the opportunity to learn from their colleagues who can pass on their knowledge and expertise.

6. What is your favourite aspect of the job? And what is the worse job each year?

My favourite aspect of the job is visiting a property which needs refurbishing and specifying what we need to do. I am particularly proud of the North Wing refurbishment that we carried out a few years ago.

I love managing my team. It is important to remember that everyone is different so each individual needs to be managed in a different way. I listen to the team’s ideas and try to guide them as much as I can.

The worst aspect is being stuck in a meeting for too long! No meeting should last more than an hour.

7. What is the history behind The Works Department at Cowdray?

Although there are few detailed historical records, it is known that the Works Department is one of the oldest departments on the Estate. A plan created in 1847 shows a works yard at its current location although at the time it was mixed with the Woods Yard, where the foresters were also based. There was a sawmill, dipping tanks and a small train to transport the timber to different storage areas.

8. Where is your favourite place on the Estate?

Halfway up the 18th hole on the golf course looking towards Midhurst.

9. Do you have a favourite item from the Cowdray Farm Shop?

Sausages! Probably the best ones around.

10. What do you like to do in your spare time?

Golf, mountain biking, fishing, and photography.

11. Tell me something unusual about yourself?

I built my own motorbike from scratch a few years ago based on a Ducati design, and I also have done a Skydive in Salisbury, and swam with sharks in Australia.

12. Do you have any pets?

We have two much loved cats – Betty, who’s a pure Tortoiseshell and Wilma, who’s a British short hair, Tortoise shell cross.

13. What can’t you live without?

Humour – my wife Clare and I love watching comedy. One of our favourite TV shows is Friends. And my wife, of course! I couldn’t live without her.

Written by Matilda Reid

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