Hardwood sawmilling in the UK is probably one of the oldest of the construction industries, indeed here at W L West & Sons Ltd we can trace our tangible company links back 152 years to 1865 in the West Sussex and East Hampshire area, and family links in the forestry and timber industry back over 200 years!
But what of the future of UK hardwood industry? Well we feel it’s got a great future. We are proud to have been involved in the Grown in Britain project from its inception in 2013. We understand that there is a hunger for Great British timber, and from our point of view this means hardwoods. Over many decades we have relied on European imports, mainly of Oak, to meet our demand, and, to be honest, that probably will not change. The consistency of supply, consistency of quality and size will probably dictate this. However there are British hardwoods out there. I have recently bought and milled some great Hampshire Oak, the quality is good, the diameters were good, but the usable length shorter than we find across the channel. This parcel of Hampshire Oak is our very first timber that we can now label as Grown in Britain timber. There really hasn’t been a better time for British timber. With the advent of Biomass, we should be able to use all of the different grades of timber found in a tree, from joinery, beam, fencing to heat and power.
In October 2016 we employed Andy Grundy from the Soil Association to conduct an audit on our procedures to enable us to get a Grown in Britain licence. All went well and we received our licence in January 2017.
We feel that it is important to actively support and grow the UK timber market. Sadly, there is a lot of woodland in GB that is currently unmanaged, but probably has some great timber on it. Our thirst for timber products continues, but our choice of species has got very narrow, with Oak being the key hardwood species being used. So, if you are someone who specifies hardwoods, what about Sycamore, Ash, Beech these species are all out there. Elm is a great timber, but sadly stocks are becoming rarer each year, but there is still some stock available. Let’s all start thinking outside of the box and support Grown in Britain timber.
Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood requirements…………………
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