Posts Tagged ‘Wood sales’

Have you visited the new bird viewing area? by Tony Pearce, volunteer

Monday, November 7th, 2011

The workshop and wood sales team of volunteers have recently completed a new bird viewing and feeding area that is accessible to visitors seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year. The previous bird viewing area had always been in the education centre, which couldn’t be accessible to visitors without staff there to open and close the building.

The new bird viewing area, located in the Old Arboretum just off Circular Drive and near to Holly Gate, is now open to the public. The RSPB have been hosting activities and working with Westonbirt Arboretum’s visitors (and wildlife) to make the most of this fantastic new facility. 

The workshop and wood sales volunteer team are a highly skilled group of volunteers who, once a brief had been agreed, began the construction of the new bird viewing area earlier this year. Here’s a closer look at how it all came together:

Initial design proposals were prepared which fitted in with other constructed elements of Westonbirt Arboretum. The design reflects the oak frame structures of the den building play in the Old Arboretum, the Great Oak Hall and the Silk Wood Barn.

The frame was made from 125mm by 125mm oak beams and 25mm larch boards to side elevations. The roof would be made from oak shingles of random widths, hanging on oak A-frames and larch purlins and battens. The design also had to let the building team manually move and lift the frame into position, and this determined the maximum length of the beams to be around 3.5m in length.

The basic design and budget was approved in early 2011, and initial milling of the oak butts was arranged with Alistair Williams for the first weekend in February.

Mobile band saw mill located along side Waste Drive. Alistair Williams operating mill with volunteers Geoff Fisher and Laurie Moir waiting to lift off cut timber.

Mobile band saw mill located along side Waste Drive. Alistair Williams operating mill with volunteers Geoff Fisher and Laurie Moir waiting to lift off cut timber.

With the timber relocated to the workshop area, material was selected for the initial components of floor and roof plates. These required an overall length of 6.6m, so three beams were scarf together using traditional framing joints to achieve the overall length. The scarf would normally use wooden pegs, but needed steel bolts to meet health and safety regulations.

The vertical posts were positioned in the floor plate and the roof plate was then located on the top of the posts. For this we used the standard mortice and tenon joint at each end of the post. All the joints were cut by hand using 50mm chisels and mallets, as through or blind joints depending on location.

Brain Young cutting mortice

Brian Young cutting mortice

Brain Carruthers and Michael Goom inspecting a roof plate

Brian Carruthers and Michael Goom inspecting a roof plate

Laurie Moir cutting tenon in post

Laurie Moir cutting tenon in post

Michael Goom  cutting housing in tie beam for roof A frame

Michael Goom cutting housing in tie beam for roof A frame

Having determined the location of the new bird viewing area, the kit was assembled in early June. The assembly of the basic frame and the raising of the roof A-frame was completed in a weekend, with all volunteers working hard over the two days.

Basic frame structure

Basic frame structure

Basic frame with roof A frames fitted

Basic frame with roof A frames fitted

At this stage of the build a delay occurred due to a requirement for planning approval. This slowed things a bit and we were only able to fit wind braces over the next eight weeks.

Marion Wilding fitting wind brace

Marion Wilding fitting wind brace

Given planning approval, all volunteers were keen to complete the project within the September target date. The boarding of the side elevations and fitting of the window frames were completed and the roofing battens, shingles and ridge were fitted over the next few weeks. During this time we were joined by a number of new recruits to the team.

New Volunteers, Roly Holtzgrave and Peter Burden, with Michael Goom

New Volunteers, Roly Holtzgrave and Peter Burden, with Michael Goom

10_11_12_near completion (1)10_11_12_near completion (2)10_11_12_near completion
With the one way windows fitted, the facility was opened for public use from 1st October. Benches were installed, leaving access for mobility scooters to enter and exit.

Some photographers have commented on the problems of taking pictures of feeding birds through the glass. This is a problem with automatic focusing cameras which has been experienced previously. It is to be noted that access for cameras have been left in the side hurdles for the serious photographers.

We hope that visitors will see this project as one which enhances their Westonbirt experience, and that birds will appreciate the new source of food when winter arrives and insects, fruits and berries are in short supply.  

My thanks go to all of the volunteers who have supported this project with their time and effort. We are now engaged on new projects, including additional play equipment for Silk Wood and some smaller projects for the Learning Centre and Family Events. In the New Year we hope that we will undertake some additional oak framing which will take the form of shelters in the arboretum.

You could help us by donating any carpenters hand tools (chisels, planes, hand saws etc) If you have any power tools please let me have details by email to woodsales@fowa.org.uk

Its nearly time for Treefest! By Gina Mills, Marketing Support Officer

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Well, the events team here at Westonbirt are almost certainly too busy to do any more blogs in the run up to Treefest, but the marketing team have just had a chance to go out on site and see everything taking shape ready for this weekend’s event – and it is looking fabulous!

Helter-skelter!

Helter-skelter!

Our first port of call was the helter-skelter, sadly not yet open, but looking suitably Victorian in its brightly painted livery. I get a feeling this is going to be a popular introduction to the festival.

The Royal Oak

The Royal Oak

We then wended our way through some more of the festival set up, towards the Royal Oak Marquee, where live music from some of the best acts in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire will be on offer along with day time workshops in art, craft and poetry. The big surprise was, well, just how BIG this marquee is. We’re really grateful to Danco Marquee Hire for their support in helping us to make this a fitting venue for all that is on offer there. They’ve also created a light and airy bar area in the entrance to the marquee, and I hear tell that some excellent local ale and cider will be on offer! There was rather a dark sky over the marquee when we were out there, but you can see all the festive banners and flags that are starting to go up across the site, along with Julie’s now famous 1000 metres of bunting!

Wood Sales team

Wood Sales team

Throughout the rest of the site, stall holders are setting up shop, and there is a real sense of community. Our very own Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum Wood Sales team seem ready to start Treefest already – not long to go now people!

Wonderful carved creation!

Wonderful carved creation!

There were some very interesting arrivals to site as we took our whistle-stop tour, including this fabulous carved creature. Definitely one to look out for during Treefest, what an amazing piece.

Working Woodlands

Working Woodlands

We then made our way across to the Working Woodlands area, where our friends from the coppice restoration project here at Westonbirt were also setting up shop, with timber framed buildings emerging and beautiful benches being unloaded.

By this time tomorrow the festival will be in full swing. I for one can’t wait!