Posted on

Sourcing Wood for our Benches

Benches for the South Downs, here at Saddlescombe with Chris Steibelt

Over the last year, our benches project was severely held up. Due to the Pandemic, there has been a huge rise in timber costs. Sourcing wood for our benches was a major challenge. Our supplier was not able to source locally grown oak at an affordable price.  After many phone calls to various contacts, I discovered the wonderful Northway Brothers who have a woodyard near Milland.

Doug and Erwin Northway are locals. They went to school in Midhurst and, having worked originally with a chestnut fencing contractor, they decided to set up their own business.  They are not easy people to find as they don’t have a website, don’t do social media and don’t advertise! Their business comes entirely from recommendations. Mine was from the Head Forrester at the Leconfield Estate in Petworth, home of our Patron Lord Egremont, where the brothers get their Forest Stewardship Council approved oak.

Doug and Erwin built their own sawmill machine when they set up the business and it is very impressive. They work in all weathers in an open shed, so it’s a pretty tough job but they seem very content with it.  

I arranged to go along and see the wood being cut for our project. Here are some photos of the process of sourcing wood for our benches. I learned a lot through meeting them and watching them work.

What’s next? We have other locations along the South Downs Way in the South Downs National Park lined up and we’ve been given the green light to go ahead and make the next benches.

Have you visited any of our benches? They are now installed at Saddlescombe, Harting Down and Ditchling Beacon. We’d love to see your photos. Visit us here on Facebook and on Instagram and on Twitter and don’t forget to tag us!

Caroline Douglas, Trustee