Archive for the ‘The Westonbirt Project’ Category

STIHL Treetop Walkway: an update

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

I’m really excited to see that the timber decking is now in place along the entire length of the walkway! It’s a fantastic milestone to reach, and means we can now move on to the final stages of construction, including the handrail and interpretation.

the start of the walkway from the Welcome Building end
This is the start of the walkway from the Welcome Building end. The new entrance sign is in place and the first part of the interpretation is in position showing the diameter of the largest tree by volume, General Sherman (a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) tree located in California, USA), and the names of all the donors who have funded Phase Two of the Westonbirt Project. The top of the timber bench which will be placed in this area should also arrive this week.

one of the views from the walkway at almost the highest point
This is one of the views from the walkway at almost the highest point at the edge of Silk Wood.

the view looking along the walkway
This photo shows the view looking along the walkway. You can just about see the access to the rope bridge and walk-around feature. You will be right in the canopy at this point with several yew trees, oaks and sycamores either side of the walkway.

the walk-around feature
This is the walk-around feature which will eventually include a swinging rope bridge and a separate platform with several “totems” representing the different layers of a tree.

timber boards
The rope bridge’s handrail and side mesh is in; the next task will be to install the timber boards so visitors can walk across to the platform, and the installation of the platform deck and handrail.

a real sense of the curves is only fully apparent when stood on the walkway itself
Despite seeing the walkway on several plans, 3D models and from the ground a real sense of the curves is only fully apparent when stood on the walkway itself. This photo is taken as you cross Willesley Drive, with the crow’s nest feature on the right.

The staircase up to the crow’s nest
The staircase up to the crow’s nest is steep and has been designed with a bounce! As you can see in the picture this staircase takes you up to a black pine. Don’t worry the staircase isn’t finished! The contractors will be installing timber stair treads and will fit a poem to the stair once complete. Once at the top of the stairs you can peer through telescopes so you can become a nature detective.

Large boulders
Some of you may have noticed some large stone boulders. We have placed these around the bases of some of the walkway legs to protect the walkway from vehicles. The contractors will be installing the last of the boulders next week to protect the legs alongside Willesley Drive.

solid larch handrail
On top of the steel balustrade the contractors will install a solid larch handrail; it is bespoke, chunky and is rarely straight! Some of the interpretation fits to the handrail, including a game at the end of the walkway, so we need it to be in place before the interpretation designers arrive to install it.

Although the walkway looks as if it’s ready to walk on, there are a few more elements to install before we can open. No one is more eager to finish the walkway than I am, having been involved in the project for the last six years. But I think you will agree once you’ve experienced the walkway that it will be well worth the wait!

Sophie Nash, Project Manager

STIHL Treetop Walkway: An Update

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Work is continuing on the STIHL Treetop Walkway, which will give visitors an exciting new perspective on trees. The walkway is part of phase two of the Westonbirt Project.

Now that the main structure of the Walkway is finished the contractors have moved on to the finishing touches before work begins on the interpretation.

The Scottish larch for the decking has arrived!

Scottish larch decking

Each piece of timber deck has a grip strip to reduce the chance of slipping in the wet or in icy conditions. The timber is thicker than normal decking to ensure it has a longer lifespan, although the timber has also been treated.

Thick timeber decking with grip strips

The contractors have started at the Silk Wood end of the Walkway and are making great progress. Each piece has been pre-cut to ensure the exposed timber has been treated but to also reduce waste.

Decking in place on the walkwayDecking in place on the walkway

Work will soon begin on the installation of the handrail, benches and the interpretation.

Sophie Nash, Project Manager

All go at the Tree Management Centre!

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

The Wolfson Tree Management Centre is a hive of activity at the moment!

The Machinery Store

The external works on the Machinery store are just about complete! The roofers have arrived in force to complete the roof, and as you can see from the pictures it looks great!

We have a clear panel in each of the roof bays that allows a good amount of natural light in, which is complimented by the polycarbonate at the wash down end of the building, which is also complete.

Machinery store

Inside the machinery store

Roof trusses in the machinery store

The last pieces of the cladding are now being tailored around the pedestrian doors and the window, before the contractors move onto fitting the main roller doors as well as an internal plywood wall with a breathable membrane.

The interior plywood walls will help to protect the inside of the building from the elements rather than just relying on the cladding (the roller doors will also help!).

In the New Year we will move on to the task of juggling contractors to fit the building with electrics, plumbing, security and fire equipment, as well as moving pieces of equipment across from the existing Tree Team yard, such as the vehicle ramp and storage sheds. The trick will be to cause minimal disruption to the Tree Team as possible – fingers crossed!

The Mess Room

The Mess Room has come on leaps and bounds since it was last blogged about, largely thanks to the ongoing support of our amazing volunteers!

The roofers have been in and laid the roof membrane (an extremely durable rubber) and this will be finished by a fanned cladding effect that will reassert the striking slope in the roofs design. As you can see from the picture, it is already looking great, so let’s hope for some dry days so they can get more completed!

Mess 1

Mess Room roof

The interior is coming on nicely as well. The electricians have been in and completed their first fix, as have the security alarm contractors, so we will see them all again in the new year to complete their works.

There’s a lot of hard work still to go on both buildings, but as you can see from all the pictures both buildings are certainly heading in the right direction, and dare I say that we can even start to see the finish line!

By Dan Reid, Project Support Officer

STIHL Treetop Walkway: an offshoot emerges!

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Work is continuing on the STIHL Treetop Walkway, which will give visitors an exciting new perspective on trees. The walkway is part of phase two of the Westonbirt Project.

At the end of last week, we saw the installation of the ‘walkaround’ offshoot of the main walkway which will eventually include a rope bridge!

It was a tricky element for the contractors – with five legs to put in place and fix to the relatively small steel frame of the circular platform, it was as close to fiddly as building on this scale gets.

The STIHL Treetop Walkway and 'walkaround' offshoot.
A closer shot of the 'walkaround', which will eventually feature a rope bridge.

STIHL Treetop Walkway: family-friendly and accessible to all…

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Work is continuing on the STIHL Treetop Walkway, which will give visitors an exciting new perspective on trees. The walkway is part of phase two of the Westonbirt Project.

This week the contractors made great progress and we’re now seeing the walkway approach the Welcome Building.

We’re getting a real sense of the gentle inclines that will make our walkway an experience which is family-friendly and accessible for all.

A stunning aerial shot of the walkway snaking into the trees.The gracefull curves will make the walkway a joy from the ground too!The walkway snakes into the trees.Along the way 'bulges' in the walkway will be home to fascinating interpretation features.It has been designed to be wheelchair, mobility scooter and pushcair friendly.The walkway as it approaches the Welcome Building

STIHL Treetop Walkway – aiming high!

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Work is continuing on the STIHL Treetop Walkway, which will give visitors an exciting new perspective on trees. The walkway is part of phase two of the Westonbirt Project.

This week, the highest sections of the STIHL Treetop Walkway were carefully craned into place.

Negotiating a large cedar took careful planning and, of course, our skilled Tree Team were on hand to climb the branches and assist with this tricky manoeuvre with the crane.

The legs for this section are the longest, measuring 13 metres. As the legs are put in at an angle, the walkway itself is at 11 metres at point.

It’s great to see the walkway snaking through the trees – as we’d hoped, it will take visitors up-close to the highest branches of our trees!

This section of the walkway comes very close to a large cedar - our Tree Team were on hand to help!Carefully craning one of the highest sections into placeA real sense of height and proximity to the treesThe walkway snakes between tree canopies

Wolfson Tree Management Centre: a lot has happened in a month! Part two!

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Work is currently underway on what will become the new Wolfson Tree Management Centre. The new facility will provide all that Westonbirt’s expert tree team needs to manage the tree collection.

The Mess Building
The new mess building will provide the tree team with a communal space for team meetings and lunch breaks as well as a WC and a drying room for their chainsaw trousers and jackets.

The new building is located between the new machinery store and the Forestry Commission offices and will be a significant upgrade compared to their existing cabin!

Perchard and Co., the contractor, and a group of volunteers have been making great progress over the last month. All timber has been sourced from the arboretum through our on-going management.

Click on the images below to see the progress in more detail – hover over each image for a description!

Sophie Nash, Project Manager

Case Study for National Youth Work Week 2015 #YWW15

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

How young people have helped shape the HLF Community Youth activities at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

Having an app based on our choices is cool” Team WB member.

Westonbirt attracts over 350,000 visits per year and is known worldwide for its spectacular autumn colour. Enabling the public to engage with the tree collection and develop an understanding of its care and conservation is a core part of the arboretum’s role. However, very few of these visits are made by young people.The community youth programme was established as a part of the Westonbirt Project, a Heritage Lottery funded project aimed at developing new activities to bring under-represented audiences to Westonbirt. Attempting to connect teenagers with trees could be a daunting prospect, but as Community Youth Officer, Karen Price explains:

“As we were looking at ways of attracting a youth audience to the arboretum to connect with the collection, rather than try and guess what would interest young people, we decided to ask the young people themselves”

…hence Team WB, the arboretum’s very own youth forum was formed!

As a result of widespread consultation over the first six months of the project, a comprehensive and challenging programme has been developed, and since piloted by visiting youth groups.

Karen says that “the most common request was for the opportunity to take part in an adventure that puts their skills, knowledge and abilities to the test. This ties in very well with the qualities and adventurous spirit needed by the Victorian plant hunters that collected some of the original plants for the arboretum.”

The two programmes created were:

>> Wild Westonbirt – an informal learning programme encouraging young people to explore the wilder side of the arboretum;
>> Can You Cut It? – learning traditional woodland management skills through coppice restoration and practical conservation activities.

Since January 2014, there have been nearly 1000 visits, by young people aged 11 – 25, participating in activities either at the arboretum or through outreach work. In addition, over 300 visitors have been consulted at Forest Live events.

Team WB participants have also helped shape the future of youth involvement at the arboretum by:

>> Providing feedback for the development of a range of new, specifically branded, youth marketing materials;
>> Providing content ideas and testing of TreeQuests, the Westonbirt app;
>> Providing a regular focus group for senior management of the arboretum to gain a youth view on site developments.

For the young people, it enables them to have their voice heard and feel a valued part of large organisation.

‘Westonbirt is bigger than anything we would normally get involved in. It’s bigger than a school survey and having an app based on our choices is cool’ Ruby – Team WB member.

Westonbirt Team WB
To find out more about how to get involved with Team WB, visit our community youth pages or follow Westonbirt Team WB on Facebook.

The Wolfson Tree Management Centre: A lot has happened in a month!

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Work is currently underway on what will become the new Wolfson Tree Management Centre. The new facility will provide all that Westonbirt’s expert tree team needs to manage the tree collection.

The Machinery Store
Since the last blog all of the trusses have been lifted into position, the majority of the roof timbers are in and the cladding is almost complete! The contractors will now move on to completing the cladding, fitting the polycarbonate sheeting to the wash down end of the building and work will begin on the roof.

Click on the images below to see the progress in more detail – hover over each image for a description!

STIHL Treetop Walkway: An Update

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Work is continuing on the STIHL Treetop Walkway, which will give visitors an exciting new perspective on trees. The walkway is part of phase two of the Westonbirt Project.

The Walkway has really started taking shape this week. The first crane arrived on Wednesday as was the tallest we will be using to build the walkway, 37 metres!

The contractors lifted the first four pairs of timber legs into position before the crane arrived. They then used a smaller crane in the plant centre site compound to lift each section of walkway onto a trailer. This was then towed along Willesley Drive to the crane, one at a time to be lifted into position. Each section is 10.5 metres in length and weighs approximately 4 tonnes, without the timber handrail and decking!

The crane driver was on the ground during the lifts and controlled the crane using a remote control.

Each section of walkway is lifted from the trailer and carefully controlled with ropes to prevent the section from spinning whilst in the air.

It’s then lowered into position once the section has been lifted over the trees. The contractors carefully rotated the section of walkway into position.

Once in position the contractors fit the steel cables to the concrete bases and the base of the walkway. The section of walkway was then carefully lowered by the crane driver to the tops of the timber legs for the contractors to the bolt the walkway to the legs.

The timber legs are temporarily held in position using additional steel cables and concrete weights.

We’ve already put in place a section of the walkway which ‘bulges’ out to overlook the coppiced area of Silk Wood. We are creating a game here so you can find out some interesting facts about the uses of timber! We will fix the Scottish larch decking to the three timber bearers.

The contractors will be back in next week to create more sections of walkway and will be hopefully lifting some of the longer legs into position and the crows nest!

Please be aware that we may have to close Skilling Hill, Skilling Gate and parts of Willesley Drive for your safety.