TV star Jules Hudson partners with Warehouse 701

Escape to the Country presenter rediscovers creative streak in new venture

TV star Jules Hudson is joining Warehouse 701 as Brand Ambassador.

A familiar face to viewers of BBC’s Escape To The Country and Channel 5’s This Week On The Farm, he has been recruited by W701 CEO Charles Hurdman to provide celebrity power as he continues to redevelop the business.

“I am delighted to have been asked,” said Jules. “To be honest, when I was approached, I didn’t have to think twice.

“I’ve been a regular visitor since we moved to the area, and I find it fascinating. I can spend hours browsing through the huge selection of rare and wonderful reclaimed items, and there is the added bonus that you are under cover, plus there’s a great coffee shop.

“I have always had a keen interest in reclamation, recycling and repurposing old furniture, and have recently finished a 12-week furniture-making course at the Boat Building Academy in Lyme Regis, which was thoroughly enjoyable. I’m a creative and need that creative outlet.”

Star power: Jules Hudson (right) is welcomes to Warehouse 701 by Charles Hurdman

Jules has always been a gifted artist, behind and in front of the lens.

An archaeologist and television producer, a former regular host on Countryfile and a passionate artisan, he is l’homme presse – a man in a hurry – and realised a realignment in the work-life balance was needed.

“Towards the end of last year, I felt the time was right to start following some of my other creative passions,” said the 54-year-old who, along with wife Tania and their young son Jack, have now lived on the Welsh Borders for the last 12 years, following a move from the Cambrian Mountains of mid-Wales, his home for over two decades.

“I have hosted Escape to the Country since 2007 and love every minute of it. I escaped to the country myself in my early twenties, buying a wreck in the Welsh mountains and doing it up.

“Having the chance to share my passion for country life with so many prospective buyers is hugely rewarding. I have always loved design and period property, so for me, country life is as much focussed on the practical challenges of maintaining old houses as well the rich rural community that supports rural life. It’s that hands-on opportunity that really sustains me, and I love learning new skills, many of them time honoured, from carpentry to dry stone walling.”

Jules’ fascination for many artisan crafts and skills was established in his childhood, inspired by creative parents who grew up in that wartime ‘make do and mend’ generation. It’s no surprise that his happy place is his workshop; but he’s now set to embark on a new adventure, turning a hobby into a cottage industry, repurposing reclaimed items and selling his practical art at Warehouse 701.

“While I haven’t yet made as many pieces as I would have liked, I’m keen to pursue that avenue – we will have some pieces on show, and for sale, at Warehouse 701,” he added.

“Hopefully, they will compliment the stunning work that 701 in-house craftsman Grant Withington produces – his 701 Originals, some of which were showcased at the Hay Festival, are extraordinary – but hopefully I can learn a thing or two from him. I love working with wood and metal, and giving new life to old pieces.”

Warehouse 701, which comprises a 20,000 sq ft vintage Warehouse, with multiple showrooms and three acres of displays, has undergone significant change in the last few months since Charles’ arrival.

He sees Jules as the ideal person to help promote the business and said: “We are delighted to have him on board.

“Jules has a passion for designing and making new pieces, repurposing reclaim and breathing new life back into rare original items, and he will have his own dedicated space within 701 to showcase his work. 

“The great thing about Jules is that he is fully invested in what we are trying to achieve as a business – to make it one of the top family destinations in Herefordshire, and we hope he will get as much out of this partnership as we will.”

Warehouse 701 has kept its name since World War I when it was a munitions factory, which is another reason why it appeals to the TV presenter.

“With my archaeological background and my passion for 20th century military history, Warehouse 701 and the history of Rotherwas in that period fascinates me,” Jules added.

“In 1915, while men were fighting on the battlefields, thousands of women were answering the government’s cry for help by joining the war effort and many worked in these munitions factories, helping to resolve the ‘shell crisis’. These women, who worked with chemicals that could physically turn their skin and hair yellow, were called the Canary Girls.

“As part of the soon-to-be-completed refurbishment of the warehouse, there are plans to honour those brave women, as is only fitting.”

Warehouse 701 is, of course, adjacent to Wye Valley Group’s Eastside Recycling Facility, where over 99% of waste that enters is recycled, making the Group one of the key cogs in the UK’s circular economy.

Now an adopted son of Herefordshire, Jules is keen to help promote the 701 brand and its environmental value to the county and beyond.

Jules said: “The Wye Valley Group of companies, of which 701 is one, is diverse. But ultimately the Group is about recycling and repurposing. They are one of, if not the greenest company in Herefordshire, and given that I’ve always championed recycling, it is personally a great tie-up.

“I feel very drawn to the Warehouse and its history, and feel right at home here. I’m really looking forward to creating a few pieces and helping to raise a little more awareness that Warehouse 701 is a family destination and, above all, a great day out. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”