A New Roundwood Workshop for Coppicewood College

Posted on December 10, 2020 by

Blog by Cara Wilson, SW Development Officer with Llais y Goedwig. 

Working, chatting and learning with others, creating something permanent together – what a life line it’s been to volunteer with Ty Pren Roundwood Builders’ Cooperative at  Pengelli SSSI woods.  

 

What a relief to get out and work

The first 2 days volunteering I did was mid-lockdown in May up at Ty Pren’s workshop in a forest near Lampeter. THere were about 6 of us per day including Ty Pren’s team. We were all uncertain and new as to how to ‘work in Covid’ then. And all so relieved to get out after 3 months confinement! 

A week was needed to clean off and re-measure the timber as it had been cut and prepared just before Lockdown. So there were some twists, splits and surface mould to sort out! 

Once on site  at Pengelli in July, Ty Pren’s team coordinated the structural build over a couple of months along with the local volunteers, 42 of us in all on rotation. There is a workshop with a wood burner, a tool lock-up and compost toilet, still in creation. 

Over the winter local volunteers will be going weekly to finish off all the fixtures, fittings and toilet to have it ready for courses and events next summer onwards. Project Manager, Bruce Slark said “we’re so pleased with our new home, and would love to welcome Llais y Goedwig members for a tour and a members sharing event next year. We could even potentially run some ‘introduction to coppicing’ courses for members too…”

 

Tea in company, working outside, the smell of fresh cut wood and forest floor!

Coppicewood College runs a 6 month woodland skills course annually with students from across the UK learning with traditional tools and techniques, as well as short 4 day coppicing  and green woodwork courses. Set up as a charity their passion is restoring neglected woodland back to use as productive coppice. Of course a coppiced woodland is perfect for many species such as the endangered dormice and bat species resident at Pengelli which the Wildlife Trust is conserving.

 

Why a new home?

The 15 year woodland management agreement that Coppicewood College had with a private landowner is coming to an end so they have formed a great new partnership with the South West Wales Wildlife Trust with a 25 year lease and a joint management plan for the stunning ancient oak woodland at Pengelli near Eglwyswrw, North Pembrokeshire.

The College will be able to run courses in the woodland, have use of timber for green wood work and charcoal, and will assist with the management and movement of felled trees. The Wildlife trust will have support from the college staff and volunteers and use of the College workshop.

I think it’s a perfect partnership of two organisations with years of experience and passion for woodland wildlife and habitat management. 

 

Building and Financing

The Ty Pren team near Lampeter specialises in eco buildings using natural roundwood timber. They build with traditional hand tools and techniques using Larch or Douglas Fir from sustainably managed Welsh woodlands. Jamie Miller, one of the earliest apprentices with Coppicewood College, told me “we’re keen to use wood that would otherwise be written off as having little value, just broken down for firewood or fence posts, but if you use it in the round it has plenty of strength for a full timber building at much less cost”. 

The new build project will cost  around £42,000. The Wildlife Trust has sponsored the new space, as well as the National Park Sustainable Development Fund and  Coppicewood’s own savings.

It’s been a great learning and networking experience to volunteer with the teams at Ty Pren and Coppice wood college which I hope to continue also once the coppice-volunteering resumes. We wish the new woodland partnership every success going forward!

 

 

 

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