106 White Rose Tents

Stretch tent in the sunshine! Credit: www.daisybphotography.com




Working at festivals is a great way to meet people and I’m lucky enough to be part of an amazing Facebook group full of really amazing festival crew. It was in this group that I met Patrick Topham and learnt about his company.

Patrick started working at festivals from a 16 “I was litter picking, car parking, stewarding, ticketing, fire marshalling, and then boutique accommodation for a couple of years. But I got sick of working minimum wage for long hours to line someone else’s pocket. “After seeing some stretch tents at various festivals, Patrick decided to pursue the idea of getting one. “I wanted one to set up a chillout venue/space at festivals. I found out how expensive they were and started looking into trying to make them as they don’t need a pattern like other tent designs, they are generally just a rectangle or square shape. I got lots of samples from China but couldn’t find a supplier of the fabric. Then my sister found out what I was doing. She was convinced I would have one ready for summer in time for her wedding. I found a new supplier that was already making them in Europe (who I am now a UK dealer for). So I borrowed some money and bought a couple of them and a battered van (sometimes we couldn’t turn it off as it wouldn’t start again)! Actually getting the tents sorted in time to use them for my sister’s wedding is one of my proudest moments. ” 

Three years later and White Rose Tents has 5 different tents, and a much nicer van! “Most of the crew went to school with me, there are about 10-20 people who help out through the summer. Along with the all important photographer, designer and environmental consultant Daisy Brasington. It helps being a fairly tight-knit crew as we all get along well, and you have to when working such long hours and living in tents, and sometimes piling into the back of the van in a lay by to sleep.”

The system of putting up the tent is a complicated one. “Depending on the set up we use triangulation to mark out exactly where the pegs want to go, which is one of those maths things at school you swear you will never use. Then we lay a plastic sheet to keep the tent clean when it’s on the ground. We bolt the side fixings every 2m around the tent. Guy ropes are attached at the appropriate fixings depending how much of the tent is going to be open or to the floor. Then, you work off the longest straightest edge putting the pegs and poles in. After that we attach the opposite edge to the pegs followed by the final two edges. We then put the smallest poles up inside the tent followed by the largest king poles. Then we work our way round the tent tightening the guy ropes. Finally we put a storm belt over the tent that is also pegged into the ground.”

White Rose Tents travel the length and breadth of the country for 6 months of the year providing various different rental options on their tents. “I think seasonal work is the best, there is always an end in sight, and I enjoy moving around seeing new places and people. It also gives me freedom to travel in winter which is a big part of my life that I wouldn’t want to give up.” However, as with all jobs, it’s not all positives. “We’ve hammered stakes into wasps nests in the ground, got stakes stuck in tree roots that even a tractor couldn’t pull out (it was tilting the tractor on its back wheels trying to get it out!), dealt with 60 mph winds, had difficulty with people not paying us, and had various injuries to deal including spending half a season with a sprained wrist! One of the funniest moments was when a client seriously asked us to move the tent 0.5m to the left once it was set up. We get a lot of people joking about this once the tent is up and I responded accordingly, but they were being serious and it took some lengthy time explaining that it wasn’t possible and would involve taking the whole tent down and starting again!”

Patrick and his crew have a busy season ahead and will be working at a variety of festivals and events including Balter, Moovin, Blackthorn, One Tribe Gathering, and Cocoon in the Park. If you are interested in hiring one of their tents, please take a look at their website below for more information and photos.

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