working woodyard - Weald & Downland Museum

Collections team update

The collections team have been very busy over the winter and spring months upgrading the Museum’s woodyard.

During the winter of 2014/15 the centrepiece of the yard, the working timber crane, sadly collapsed. Rot had found its way into a variety of the timbers including the end of the jib – where the steel cables hold it to the main frame and adjust its pitch. The result of this was that the end of the jib snapped off and with nothing holding it to the rest of the crane, fell to the floor. Although in an area off-limits to visitors, it unfortunately fell onto our sawpit, demolishing it in the process. To complete this series of woodyard setbacks, at the same time our working racksaw bench finally succumbed to the elements and, due to extensive rot and wear, it was dismantled. This left us with rather a bare and sorry looking woodyard, which we have been steadily working to remedy.

Repairing the timber crane

In late March this year the timber crane was finally completed. It is now fully functioning (as it was previously) but we have decided not to reinstate the sawpit, as this particular example was so used so infrequently. We have a much better example from Sheffield Park situated opposite the watermill from Lurgashall, which we can use to demonstrate this craft. The extra space now gives us much more flexibility in the woodyard for future  activities and events.

Timber crane - Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

Racksaw bench reinstated

In conjunction with our ex-colleague, Ben Headon, we are also setting up another racksaw bench and introducing a small traction engine into the yard as a permanent feature. This will be used to power the racksaws on demonstration days. We also have the opportunity to situate another working charcoal kiln, which will add to our range of woodyard activities.

Charcoal burners camp re-erected

Museum Site Interpreter, Jon Roberts, and his team have re-erected the tent in the charcoal burner’s camp in the woodyard. The charcoal burners’ camp was one of the original exhibits when the Museum first opened to the public in 1970, and charcoal burning was the first rural trade to be demonstrated.
This was only possible thanks to the assistance of Mr & Mrs Arthur Langridge who had made charcoal using traditional earthcovered clamps until 1948 and advised us on the camp’s reconstruction.

Charcoal burners camp

 

We are now in the process of upgrading the fencing, clearing sheds cleared to make them workable spaces, conserving and repairing living vans, and giving the woodyard an overall facelift.

Do pop up and visit the woodyard – just above Pendean farmhouse – on your next visit.