Hi, my name’s William Wallace, the owner of Woodlouse Industries.
Although this is a recently formed business, I have an extensive background in local woodland work, sawmill operation and local timber supply.
I am based in The Low Weald, a region of South East England with a really heavy clay soil- said to be good for two things “fattening cattle and growing Oak”.
The Low Weald is almost entirely surrounded by hill ridges of sandstone and the rolling chalk North and South Downs. With all the different soil types and microclimates, we are fairly blessed with places to grow some really useful and brilliant timber trees.
The Low Weald also has the historic advantage of thousands of acres of woodland that was previously tended to provide fuel for the now-extinct iron working industry. Before the Industrial Revolution, this area provided a huge amount of the nation’s diet of iron, and this required simply enormous amounts of charcoal.
Most of the woodland was cut on a coppice cycle, to give lots of reasonably small fast grown poles that were then processed for charcoal for the bloomeries and blast furnaces. Judging by the amount of remaining watercourses, pond bays (dams), furnace sites and mine pits still visible 300 years later, we may well be living in the country’s largest brownfield site.
The combination of fairly grim farming soils and higgledy-piggledy landscape has kept the regions woods intact, although many are now suffering with fragmented ownership, poor access and a lack of management since the inter-war years. Luckily, there is a steadily growing number of enthusiastic local woodland workers and suppliers looking to reverse this trend- hopefully we can play our part.
Will Wallace, November 2014