The Diamond Jubilee Fenland Black Oak Project could not have been even considered a possibility without the generosity of a fantastic range of companies, organisations and individuals.
We are most grateful for their sponsorship and support which has been given in the form of financial donations, goods, services, equipment and invaluable expertise.
The Worshipful Company of Carpenters is managing all financial administration transparently and the project is entirely non-profit.
More support is needed! Click here to find out more.
Adamson and Low
Hamish Low of Fenland Black Oak specialists and cabinet makers Adamson and Low has worked with Fenland Black Oak or bog oak for over 20 years.
Hamish had experience of using bog oak during his apprenticeships and training and having established Adamson and Low was offered a bog oak tree to experiment with. By sheer luck this tree happened to have very rare drying characteristics and yielded perfect, beautifully figured boards. Bog oak is famously difficult to dry so “what was all the fuss about?”. His next attempts made it very clear what all the fuss was about and why very few people were attempting to process this timber. On one occasion the boards moved to such a degree they pushed the structure of the kiln apart. However due to his incredible first experience Hamish was determined to perserver. 20 years of trial and mostly error later Hamish’s reasonably confident of success.
In early 2012, G’s Shropshire & Sons farm manager called Hamish, as they have done over the years, to let him know they had a big Fenland Black Oak for him. Hamish arrived with his 12ft trailer and a chainsaw, as usual, and marked the oak into 12ft lengths. What was not usual was that there were three 12ft markers on this trunk, and the trunk showed none of the usual pockets of rot, decay or insect infestation. “I have seen and heard of larger bog oaks than this in the East Anglian Fenland basin, but none have been well enough preserved to consider converting into planks,” says Hamish. “I was stood in the field on that cold March morning with the chainsaw running, ready to start sawing, but I couldn’t do it. This tree is by far the best quality I have ever seen in 20 years of looking and I was absolutely positive that the right thing to do was to try and retain the integrity of the tree by keeping it full length regardless of the challenges to be overcome.”
G.S. Shropshire & Sons Ltd
The Shropshire family and farm manager Martin Hammond have been working with Hamish Low for many years. Their agricultural fields near Southery on the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border have yielded Fenland Black Oaks which Hamish has then assessed and collected, to be turned into bespoke furniture by him and other makers wishing to use this precious timber.
On the emergence of the giant trunk earlier this year, G’s supported Hamish with their staff’s time and farm equipment, and without hesitation allowed the trunk to remain insitu whilst Hamish found a means of excavating and preserving the 5,000 year old sub-fossilised giant oak trunk for our national heritage and the benefit of future generations.
The Worshipful Company of Carpenters
The Carpenters’ Company is the senior construction trade company amongst the City Livery Companies, and maintains close links with the carpentry profession and other building trades. Today, charitable activities and support for the craft of woodworking through scholarships, competitions and the Building Crafts College are the two cornerstones of its work.
Hamish approached the Carpenters’ Company with a unique request, to find a way of preserving a piece of our ancient natural history in wood, and the Company agreed wholeheartedly. The Carpenters’ Company approached Buckingham Palace about the project, stating that the tree had been discovered in Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year, and that the project intends to gift it to the nation. The project was granted permission to be a “Diamond Jubilee” project, and the Diamond Jubilee Fenland Black Oak Project was born.
Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST)
The Carpenters’ Company approached QEST about the Project, which met the Trustees requirement for well thought out projects which will contribute to the pool of talent in the UK and reflect the excellence of British Craftsmanship as symbolised by the Royal Warrant of Appointment.
Steve Cook is the Diamond Jubilee Fenland Black Oak Project QEST apprentice, located at the Building Crafts College in East London, and apprenticed to Adamson and Low for the duration of the project so the knowledge of how to dry this sub-fossilied timber can be passed.
The Building Crafts College
Founded in 1893, the Building Crafts College moved from central London premises to a large brand new building in Stratford, East London in 2001, with further extensions being planned.
Supported by the Carpenters’ Company, the courses and apprenticeships offered by the college made it the logical choice for the project to work with its students. Hamish and other furniture designer-makers have been sharing their expertise and using this unique project as a means of teaching the students who come from all over the UK.
The students and staff participated in the sawmilling of the trunk on the 25th September 2012, built the 15 metre kiln which is housed at the Building Crafts College, and will create the table and understructure under the careful supervision of Hamish and Steve.
ACF Telehandler Hire & Sales
ACF Telehandlers was established by David Waldock in 1986 and, after 26 years in the industry, ACF is still a family run company priding itself on the personal touch and a wealth of experience on lifting all manner of materials on construction, agricultural and waste sites across the UK.
The ACF operators and their equipment were a credit to their company. On the day we had all kinds of logistical difficulties to overcome which meant ACF had to work very closely with the other saw milling team, suggesting ways they could carry out very complicated lifts in tandem to resolve these issues. Nothing was too much trouble for them and they had to utilise every amount of ingenuity and precision with their machines to get the tree out of the ground and onto the mill safely and without incident. The entire saw milling team were extremely glad ACF were there, intact they very generous stayed on for longer than scheduled and carried out another complicated lift to ensure we could turn the tree again without upsetting the precision set up of the saw bench.
Swedish based international company Logosol develops and sells unique machines and services within wood processing and woodworking around the world.
When approached by the Project, Logosol could have not been more enthusiastic or generous. They have an unwavering belief in innovation and ingenuity and arranged for a massive 52ft portable sawmill to be shipped to the UK specifically for this project; which is possibly the largest portable sawmill in the UK.
InSitu Designs - Sawmills & Oakwrights
InSitu Designs specialise in traditional oak framing, providing comprehensive design and fabrication services. This means they also offer static and mobile sawmill facilities with the capacity for milling ‘through and through’ or sectional timber on-site.
Having worked with InSitu Designs for many years, Hamish turned to them for their sawmilling expertise. Liaising with Hamish and Logosol, InSitu Designs committed nearly a week of their time to the set-up of the huge portable sawmill once it arrived, and for the day of careful sawmilling of the 44ft trunk into 10 x 2 ¼ inch planks.
Family owned and run business, Malco Freight has been successfully trading for over 30 years.
Located in Ely and working nationally, Malco Freight offers efficient forms of transport, reducing not only costs but also carbon emissions; particularly when the cargo is 5,000 year old oak planks!
Malco Freight were vital to the project – without immediate transport from the sawmilling to the Building Crafts College in East London, the planks would have been in danger of deteriorating very quickly and compromising the whole project. Thanks the Malco Freight, the transfer of the precious cargo could not have gone smoother. The saw milling team would like to thank the driver for his help and enthusiasm working with the students of the BCC to load his lorry.
Coillte Panel Products - SmartPly OSB. The SmartPly OSB Bespoke Kiln
The specification for the unique kiln is scaled from the smaller units Hamish Low works with every day, but the sheer scale of a hand-built 15 metre kiln will bring its own challenges. The sealed vapour unit was built by the students, mature students and staff of the fine woodworking course at the Building Crafts College, and is made of a sandwich of SmartPly OSB 3 boards packed with insulation with an internal environment that is both humid and hostile.
The kilning will be very closely monitored. It is delicate and precarious process which draws on every one of Hamish’s 20 years of expertise working with Fenland Black Oak. It is usual at the end of the drying process to have removed from the timber in excess of a staggering 4 gallons of water per cubic foot – over 50% of the trees original volume – and each plank reduces its width and thickness by one third. The challenge of drying Fenland Black Oak is to extract these huge amounts of water and incur such a degree of shrinkage whilst maintaining a flat straight and split free board; a challenge made more difficult by the unique length of these special boards.
Daniel Watney Surveyors
Mark JD Adamson Limited
Dr.Martin Bridge, University College London
David Brown, Queen's University, Belfast