Following a successful fundraising appeal by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, today Westonbirt Arboretum is pleased to announce an exciting new project which will enable visitors to discover what happens once the tree has come to the end of its life. Local heritage craftspeople will show how the timber is put to good use, from making unique pieces of furniture to stunning household goods.
Over the next few months the Arboretum will be restoring an old cattle barn and yard, transforming it into a centre for local craftspeople to showcase their amazing heritage skills. Visitors will be able to watch exciting demonstrations and take part in bespoke courses and workshops. Expert chair maker, Paul Hayden, who has run a successful programme of chair making courses at the woodworks for 18 years, will be setting up an exciting programme of events and activities.
Chloe Gilbert, Project Officer at Westonbirt Arboretum, who is managing the project said: “We are delighted to be kicking off this project, which will help us showcase how we can use sustainably-sourced British timber. Whilst the arboretum is first and foremost an internationally important tree collection, we do from time to time have to extract trees due to disease, storm damage or part of our sustainable programme of traditional woodland management. The new Westonbirt Woodworks will provide facilities for these small quantities of timber to be put to good use. When it re-opens to the public, talented craftsmen and women will be able to showcase their incredible skills to visitors, who will learn directly from leading experts. In turn, this helps to keep these crafts alive and provides a new experience for the public who visit us. ”
The new Woodworks will officially open in 2019, and from November there will be plenty to see onsite from the fantastic vantage point of the STIHL Treetop Walkway. The first building to be constructed will be a Saw Mill shelter, made from Westonbirt’s own oak, and will house a new Saw Mill, after which the team will then set to on constructing a Drying Store which will house planked timber. These two new timber framed buildings will be created using traditional timber framing techniques by Perchard Structural Timberworks.
The Westonbirt Project is funded by Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, Bristol University – Sarah Baille, The Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers and Charitable Trust, The Summerfield Trust, CHK Trust, and Swire Charitable Trust.