Our company history runs parallel
with British forestry heritage.
It can be traced back to the forestry companies
that emerged in post WWII, 1950’s Britain
as national forest industries were booming…
The story begins with Oakover and Wealden Woodlands, two companies providing forest management services across Kent and Sussex in the late 1940’s early 1950’s. At that time our very own Keith Seymour worked for Oakover, a company that still operates a tree nursery in Maidstone, Kent today.
Across the UK thousands of men were engaged in the clearance of “redundant” broadleaves and the establishment of new conifer plantations ( not the subject of PAWS restoration) were created to endeavour to meet the surge in supply and demand of softwood timbers for manufacturing.
All felling was done by hand up until then, with axes and cross cut saws but into the 60’s and 70’s forest machinery crept into use. Chainsaws were used instead of handsaws. Small tractors came into use instead of horse teams for getting logs to roadside and forestry moved towards mechanisation.
In those days, when trees were felled and logs brought out of the forest, timber lorries had to be loaded by gangs of men with winches, a far cry from the state of the art machinery available built into round timber haulage lorries now.
During this period in time there were scores of local sawmills processing enormous volumes of trees into locally available wood.
At the same time there was a beneficial tax regime in place which allowed woodland owners to manage their woodlands at little more than net cost. This provided a big boost in employment for foresters everywhere. As a company, English Woodlands employed dozens of Foresters across southern England to fulfil the new demand for woodland management services.
As post war Britain settled down in the late 1960’s Oakover and Wealden woodlands merged becoming English Woodlands Ltd.
In 1983 this company acquired one of the many active sawmills in the area then named The Sussex Resaw Company at Cocking Sawmills. A little later down the line in 1986, the two operating Directors, Hugh Gent and George Marchand, bought out the sawmiil business incorporating as English Woodlands Timber Ltd, creating our sister timber company we know and love today.
No sooner had they got their partnership underway than the following year saw the great storm of 1987 which set the country in chaos and delivered huge volumes of windblown trees into the already at capacity sawmills. The trees needed converting to timber and English Woodlands Timber was bound to focus solely on milling and supplying other sawmills with stocks of round timber well into the late 1990’s.
Once the volumes of recovered storm logs were cleared from the forests the company diversified into providing a wider range of management services alongside the now well established sawmilling business.
It was at this point our Managing Director, Tom Compton, was appointed to bring forest management back into the heart of the business, which he has certainly done!
In 2011 Ian McNally joined us as Tom’s partner and has helped Tom build our excellent reputation for professional forest and land management services. Whilst sharing the business Ian & Tom have realised a long time goal of launching a stand alone forestry business in English Woodlands Forestry which is where we are today.
We look forward to taking land and forest management forward.
To seeing more woodlands created, more dormant woodland brought back into management and more science and technology aid the development of resilience and biodiversity in the face of dramatic climate change.
Our aim is that the two sister companies, English Woodlands Forestry & English Woodlands Timber can develop to be resilient responsible and sustainable and that they continue to work for British wood culture into the 21st century.