150 Years in the Timber Industry

wlw logo v6 1865-2015There are not many companies that can boast 150 years in business !! But we can!

www.wlwest.co.uk

Donald & Cecil West 1930s with mother at New rd site
Donald  with Cecil West and Mary, their mother in the wheelbarrow

This year we are celebrating 150 years in the timber industry. We have standing timber records back to 1865 (see below), these were used to record the dimensions of the round timber being purchased. To be honest, it is probable that these were not the first records, our current family members can trace their Great Grandfather – James West, back to the 1851 census. He was aged 52 and described as a ‘Wood Reve’ – which, according to Collins Dictionary was a ‘Steward responsible for wlw timber records 004a wood’. 

So ….. the West family have been in the timber industry for a long time. Indeed of Walter Luke West’s 15 children, yes you read right, 15 children, 6 of the sons were wlw timber records 001involved with the business at some time. Latterly various members of the family have been involved, some long term and some dipping in and out at various times.

  

Sawmill Severals road midhurst 1912_1918
An early sawmill 1912-1918

The foundations of the current company were laid in the 1920/30’s by Walter Luke West and Cecil Owen West – Father and Son and Grandfather and Uncle of two of the current directors. Initially working in the woods, the early premises were located on a corner of the railway yard in Midhurst. working with steam to power the saws. Slowly additional ground was purchased, with Dr Richard Beeching MP increasing the availability of land with his cuts of the railways. We eventually bought the whole  site and developed our sawmilling there until 1986 when we moved to our current location.

Our directors have included members of the family for the whole of our history. Family members are still on the board of directors which also includes Simon Smith as one of our Joint MD’s and Heather Rickards who is our Accounts Director, both of which have over 20 years each with the company.

WLW Steam engine 1951 being towed to Ansells
Our static steam engine being towed to a new owner

I had a look at the current team here, and in particular the members that are involved in the timber production. Of the 16 people involved in the various stages of buying, selecting, converting and manufacturing timber products, there is 469 years of experience in our industry.

Unloading at New Road 1960s
Unloading Oak in the 1960’s

The timber industry in the UK has changed over the years, that has meant changing with the times. We focus very much in working with our clients on projects, many of which we work with for many months working through to project conclusion. Our portfolio is wide reaching these days, spend a few minutes having a look at our website – http://www.wlwest.co.uk it includes machined and profiled timber, cladding, worktops and bartops, bespoke gates, beam timber and much more.

What is clear, if you have a project that includes timber, having a chat with us is a good idea. We would love to get involved with your projects.

 Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood requirements…………………

Call our Sales Team on 01798 861611 or email: sales@wlwest.co.uk

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LEARN TO TURN – Woodturning for all

www.wlwest.co.uk

Would you like to be able to turn wood into beautiful things?

We are pleased to announce that we have a new wood turning tutor – Mr John Wyatt. John joins us in the Dsc00734New Year to bring you a course for beginners or perhaps for those of you who have ‘Jaded skills’.

John joins us after the sad passing of our previous tutor George Karon.

Our course is designed to teach you how to use a lathe safely and competently to produce a beautiful item. John will cover tool use, selection and control, sharpening of tools, parts of the lathe and its use. Cutting techniques and finishing.

Woodturning Course 021

The course is held at our teaching room at our sawmills in Selham, Petworth, West Sussex, GU28 0PJ. So you will be learning in the heart of the timber industry – with wood all around you!!

I have made it seem very simple! For more information have a look at our web site click the link here.

To download an application form with the current available dates, click here Woodturning Course form December 2012

Now, if your really take a shine to woodturning, we can also supply you with a lathe to meet your requirements ……. and

record cl3_1

pocket!, together with the correct tools to do the job. Pop into our shop and have a browse.

Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood requirements…………………

Call our Sales team on 01798 861611 or email:sales@wlwest.co.uk

New EU Timber Regulations ……. are you prepared?

www.wlwest.co.uk

Are you aware of the European legislation that will affect ALL timber traders from next year?

With effect from 3 March 2013 – Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 (EUTR) comes into force. This piece of legislation has been in discussion for some considerable time and has been commented on by many different organisations. Our input has been through our membership of the Timber Trade Federation. You can click on the title of the legislation above to go direct to the EU website.

The legislation covers most timber products (excluding recycled) and mandates everyone involved in the supply chain to prove that the timber has originated from legal sources. The legislation classes the timber trade into two categories, Operators – these are people who place timber for sale for the first time in Europe, and Traders – who are people who in the course of a commercial activity, sell or buy within the European market.

Quite a few of us we will be classed as Traders. In simple terms, this means that we have to prove who we purchase timber and timber products from, and who we sell them to. This information must be kept for at least 5 years.  Most of us have some type of purchase and sales invoicing system and this will provide the framework to meet the legislation. From our point of view, we are meeting our EUTR obligations by being signatories to the Timber Trade Federations – Responsible Purchasing Policy. A mandate of membership which is audited every year.

For Operators the requirement is more onerous. Operators must prove that the timber or timber product being placed onto the European Market for the first time is from legally harvested timber. Evidence of a robust due diligence system must be demonstrated. The due diligence systems must be periodically audited to maintain the robustness of the legislation.

But beware – it is possible that even if you are a Trader and therefore purchasing within Europe, if it is proved that you have been supplied illegal timber, and you have received it unknowingly, you can still be liable to prosecution and confiscation of product!!

We are in the favourable position of being ahead of the game with our trade federation, but our feeling is that there are many businesses out there who are oblivious to this new law. This is very concerning, we feel that there are many craftsmen and traders that do not know about the legislation or think it does not apply to them. If you feel that you are unsure, then you really ought to make some enquiries. It is better to be sure than face a prosecution through lack or research.

You can gain more information from the following website:

Timber Trade Federation – EU Timber Regs Guidance

Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood products and requirements…………………

Call our Sales team on 01798 861611 or email: sales@wlwest.co.uk

Record Power – Woodworking machines for enthusiasts

www.wlwest.co.uk

Anyone who enjoys working with wood knows that good machines make completing a project very much easier. If you are like me, we were taught woodworking at school 40 years ago and if we tried to hand cut a piece of timber square now we would have a 50/50 chance of accuracy. Similarly, hand planing a piece of hardwood? No I don’t think so.

So, if you would like to either update some of the woodworking machines that you currently have or would like to start to create your own woodworking workshop, then pop along and see us on:

Wednesday 24 October 2012.

Record Power, a name synonymous with woodworking, will be holding a demonstration day at our premises from 10.00am until 4.00pm. We have been working with Record Power for some years now, and they manufacture very good woodworking machines. From small band saws, planer thicknessers to woodturning lathes. We are convinced that if you have a question on what machine to buy, that they will be able to answer you. Good prices too. Record Power are always trying to be competitive in their market, and so you will find extremely good prices.

So, whether you are an experience craftsman, enthusiastic amateur furniture maker or apprentice woodworker – pop along to our shop on Wednesday 24 October 2012. You can find us between Midhurst and Petworth in West Sussex, just off the A272 opposite the Halfway Bridge Inn – follow the signs for Selham and Graffham.

Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood products and requirements…………………

Call our Sales team on 01798 861611 or email: sales@wlwest.co.uk

A new Direction – Signage at its best.

www.wlwest.co.uk

Good quality and tasteful signage adds a lot to a business or domestic property.

We have been signing the countryside for a number of years now, working with many agencies to supply footpath signs. So lots of you will have been following our lead when you have been out for the Sunday walk.

More recently we have been working with the National Parks Authorities supplying signage for various areas across the South Downs.  Most of these signs have been in Oak, naturally durable and a fitting material for the countryside. The lettering on these have been spray painted to allow the sign to stand out, something we are able to offer with all signs.

Gate backs are a really good way of showing a name of a property without have to have a separate sign. Prior to constructing the gate, we engrave the back (top rail) of the gate, the gate is then constructed and sanded to leave a stunning finish.

Customers often ask us to make memorial benches to be sited sometimes in public areas such as sports grounds or parks, but occasionally in private gardens. I think this is a lovely way to remember someone, especially if they were outdoor people. We use a similar method to the gates, we engrave the tope rail of the bench before assembly.

More recently, we have been making commercial business signs, including our own. Our technology allows us to use a small CAD package to create lineage and most logos to be engraved into timber. The signs can be either left natural or treated to maintain the colour of the timber, the letters can be painted to meet your company’s colour scheme.

Call us to discuss your sign, we are sure that we can make you a sign that will meet and beat your expectations.

Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood products and requirements…………………

Call our Sales team on 01798 861611 or email: sales@wlwest.co.uk

Family Heritage in Business – Is it important?

www.wlwest.co.uk

How many old established family businesses do you know?

Obviously that is a very broad question, so lets narrow it down a little. What about family businesses that are 50 years old? I guess that you probably do. There must be hundreds if not thousands across the UK.

So how about 200 years? Well we are sure that Walter Luke Wests’s father (W L West) – James was born in 1799. In the 1851 census, James was 52 years of age, was married to Elizabeth and had 6 sons and 3 daughters (that were recorded at his address). His occupation was described as a ‘WOOD REVE’. We are struggling to find out what a ‘reve’ is, if indeed that is the correct translation of quite an old text! Four of his sons were described as Labourers in the woods. So clearly they were in the timber industry. Now, remember that James was 52 in 1851, it is probable that he would have started work at 14 or 15 years of age. So, we are sure that this is a tangible link that our hertiage in timber goes back at least 197 years!! It would not be unfair to assume that James’s father would have also been in the timber industry, but sadly, we cannot substantiate this. We have found Walter Luke West in the 1901 census, and was listed with wife, four young children, one daughter and three sons. His occupation was described as a Sawyer Timber.

What we do have are tangible records from 1865, these are timber felling records not disimilar to records used today to record timber purchases. These were James West’s buying records. The business as we know it today was formed in the first part of the last century by Walter Luke West and one of his elder sons Cecil. From that point there have been many many West’s involved in every part of the business.

So back to my headline – Is family heritage in business important? Well I guess that I am prejudiced, I am part of the W L West heritage, but we think it is important. Working with family is challenging, probably more so than non-family business, but it is also rewarding. The knowledge that what we have today stems from something 3 centuries ago is mind-blowing. Family businesses also ensure that there is a wealth of product knowledge handed down from father to son, cousin to cousin and so on. It is imperative that this knowledge is not lost. Our chairman is now into his mid seventies, but that doesn’t stop us asking him for an opinion or him from taking an active interest in what goes on, and long may the knowledge tree exist.

Sadly there are many family businesses that are going out of business, some because of the economic climate, but some because there is no natural family progression or the family is not interested. To date we have not had that problem. My grandfather – Walter Luke West (W L West) had 15 children (no TV in those days!) and we understand he was one of 12 children.

How big is that Oak Tree?

Running a business always has its tough times, but we try to make ours one big family.

So – are family businesses important? Well we think so.

Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood products and requirements…………………

Call our Sales team on 01798 861611 or email: sales@wlwest.co.uk