Just for once it didn’t rain on Thursday when I spent a day in the woodyard at the Weald & Downland museum. It’s a working woodyard and forms a base for many woody activities as well as supporting other projects within the museum.
There is always a lot of work going on but as this can be anywhere across the museum site and its surrounding woodland it’s not unusual for the woodyard to seem deserted. But this week has been a ‘Woodyard week’ with plenty of work planned and I got to join in for a day polelathe turning and also lending a hand in the yard – irressistible to a congenital ‘woody’ like me.
Ben is building a number of wheels to replace old ones that can’t be fixed up any more on wagons that are part of the museum collection and that get used by the museum. These new hubs are turned from Elm, a wood with grain so twisty that it is renowned for resisting splitting when the spokes are knocked in. The red wheel is one from the museums timber wagon and the new hubs will be used to build replacements and get the timber wagon back on the road.
Oak beams are sawn and hewn in the woodyard to provide replacements for buildings and projects around the museum. We used the woodyard hand operated timbercrane to extract some beams from the pile for a project which Guy is working on.
This butt is in the process of being hewn into an Oak beam and will eventually be used in one of the museum’s projects. The process of hewing the round timber into a squared off beam is a great demonstration for visitors – not least because of the sense of danger in watching someone stand on a log and swing an axe at their feet!
As you’d expect there is a kettle in the yard. A proper one. Somehow a cup of tea always tastes fresher when it’s brewed over an open fire, especially one thats powered by the shavings from the hewing and turning of the mornings work.
As you may have noticed the denizens of the yard are not that keen on appearing on camera, not on mine at least and despite plying them with a whole box of broken biscuits they still managed to elude me, but I should thank Julian, Ben, John and Guy for letting me join in for the day and also the visitors brave enough to make it to the woodyard who certainly enjoyed the experience.