PORTE Marsh Industrial Estate in Calne is home to dozens of well-established firms but its newest enterprise, which surely boasts its oldest workforce, is already hitting its stride.

The Calne Men’s Shed was only mooted as an idea last July but already it has its own premises in one of the industrial units, more than 20 members and numerous projects on the go. And yes, it does have its own shed.

They are aimed at retired (though not necessarily) men (though not exclusively) and designed to provide somewhere to meet, share a joke and enjoy companionship while tinkering with craft projects

Principally they seek to tackle loneliness and isolation that is all too common among retired men who struggle to fill the void left by the daily routine and comforting banter of work.

Chairman Mike Crawshaw, one of the four Calne trustees, saw the need for a Shed in the town as soon as he heard an appeal from the Calne Area Board for anyone interested in setting one up.

“I thought it was a great idea and just what the town needs,” said the 71-year-old retired electrical engineer. “It has all come together really quickly because there is a good mix of skills and we have some good connections.”

Weeks of hard work saw volunteers clean, paint and equip the rooms to transform them into workshops. Now members, who meet twice a week, use donated and reclaimed wood to build bird boxes and tables, bug sheds and rabbit hutches. Everything is made is either sold to raise funds or donated to fellow community groups.

The group has been funded by the Wiltshire Community Foundation, which gave it £1,450 for dust extraction equipment, Calne Area Board and Calne Lions.

Member Ken Stephenson, 80, a retired toolmaker who once worked on the Hubble telescope, said: “Many of the people who come here are lonely and would otherwise be sitting in the house.”