Forest of Bere Woodturners Newsletter Pages


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On Sunday 27th October the Surrey Association of Woodturners (SAW) held their 25th Annual Open Day, where the public can be inspired by the high quality, competition standard of woodturning from participating clubs invited to contribute to the Open Competition event.

Lead by the imaginative Ken Briffet – assisted by Alan Aldridge – the FOBWA team entered the SAWs Open Invitational Club Challenge, presenting ten of the finest pieces produced during the 2019 season and achieving a respectable Second Place overall – a well-deserved achievement against strong competition, which demonstrates both the premium woodturning calibre we have in the Club today, and Ken and Alan’s intuition to impress the judges.

Congratulations to John Wyatt, scooping Best in Show honours for his segmented stars solitaire board, with each ball containing over 30 individual pieces of wood. When interviewed, he said, “I enjoyed the challenge of working it all out.”

Further plaudits for the FOBWA team having also achieved Highly Commended accolades for Peter Noot (Forest of Bere), Neil Walsh (Tealight Holder) and Alan Aldridge (Black Hole). Very well done.

The club contributors and their pieces were;

Newsletter - October 2019

Forest of Bere Woodturner Takes Honours at SAW’s 25th Invitational Club Challenge

A huge thank you and recognition goes to Iain Grant, Mike Haselden and John Wyatt, for their time demonstrating on the lathe and enthusiastically answering visitors’ questions about FOBWA and woodturning.

John Wyatt

Stars Solitaire Board

Peter Noot

Forest of Bere

Neil Walsh

Tealight Holder

Alan Aldridge

Black Hole

Mike Haselden

Monkey Puzzle Vase

Walter Siedgriest


Dave Reynolds


Iain Grant

Hollow Form

Malcolm Bryant


Ken Briffet


Figure 1: SAWs Challenge / FOBWA Second Place

Figure 2: FOBWA Entries

Figure 3: FOBWA Second Place

Gratitude also to the FOBWA members who supported the club by attending the SAWs event and discussing our activities with new contacts in the woodturning community. A good day was had by all.

Let’s support Ken by contributing turned pieces to the Ken’s Challenge during 2020 so we can achieve 1st place at SAWs 2020.

By Scott Waugh

At the turn of the century in 1801 a large hollow elm tree in a hedgerow by a farm yard in Kent was destroyed by a storm overnight, leaving all it’s remaining branches lying across the lane.

Live roots from this old tree ran for many yards under the hedgerow and suckers emerged from these roots.

English elm does not produce seed in this country so it can only reproduce itself from live branches or from it’s roots by producing suckers of the same clone.

One of these suckers grew vigorously through the hedge and by the battle of Waterloo in 1815, this sucker had become a small tree ten feet above the hedge. 

This tree continued to grow strongly, as indicated by the wide ring width, and by 1830 the tree had reached a height of 30 feet. 

At this time in our history tree branches with leaves on them were still used for animal feed. Branches were removed by pollarding at 10 to 12 feet, or by shredding, removing most of the side branches.

Our tree was shredded and this reduced the rate of diameter growth while the tree regrew it’s branches over the next seven years as indicated by the close ring growth. The tree regained it’s vigour by 1864 and continued to grow well until 1878.

From 1878 to 1898 a marked dip in ring width growth occurred. The tree had been pollarded in 1878 and it did not regain it’s vigour until it had re-grown it’s new multiple branched crown.

A period of quicker growth then occurred up to the year 1911.

Two periods of narrow ring growth followed up to 1945. During this time our tree had no human intervention, but a less virulent strain of elm disease killed parts of the tree crown without killing the tree. This reduced the width of ring growth during this time.

After 1945 the tree grew reasonably well for a tree of 125 years of age.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the elm disease, discovered by a Dutch scientist in the 1920s in Europe, infected our tree and by the year 1972 our tree was dead.

Standing at the trunk of our dead elm tree looking along the hedgerow we see the suckers growing vigorously through the hedge.

In 1975 the old dead tree was felled as part of the plant health felling programme, and all branches removed. The forest craftsmen who felled the tree cut a number of discs of wood from the largest part of the tree and I was lucky enough to receive one of those discs. I have used that elm disc as a large table top in my garden until recently.

This old disc of Elm had started to suffer from cracks and insects, so I made the elm leaf shape from it. This reminds us of it’s time on the earth, and many of the events that occurred during that time. We also remember that the progeny of our elm tree still re-sucker in the hedgerow after repeated recoveries from Dutch Elm Disease.

The Old Foresters tale of a Kentish Elm

This tale is based on the tree ring growth on the elm disc that I was given.

If you want to see the National Elm Collection, go to Preston Park in Brighton.

There are 17000 elm trees in and around the streets and parks in the Brighton area.

Peter J Noot