History & Heritage

he Story of the North East’s Lumber Jills


The photograph above, taken in 1941, shows workers from the “Home Grown Timber Department – Division 1” – our grateful thanks to Kathleen Ashton for use of the photo.  Kathleen was a Lumber Jill and worked for a short time at Chopwell Wood as a “Tree Selector”.  Do you know anyone in the photo (click on the photo to open for a larger view), or any Lumber Jills (Timber Jills) who were part of the Women’s Timber Corp during World War 2 ?  The Friends of Chopwell Wood, Groundwork North East and the Forestry Commission have been working on a project, “The Story of the North East’s Lumber Jills”, to find out more about the role of these amazing women at Chopwell Wood.  The project is now complete, and the information gathered can be found on a website at  http://lumberjills.org or in the Tyne & Wear Museum archives.  A booklet was also produced, and for details of how to obtain a copy please contact Liz Searle at Friends of Chopwell Wood  01207 542495 or email  info@friendsofchopwellwood.org.uk

Chopwell Wood has an extensive history, which the Friends group has researched.  This has resulted in the publication of a booklet (see History of the Wood page), and the completion of a number of Heritage projects.  These have included a major Local Heritage Initiative funded project (see Heritage page), and most recently an airbourne LiDAR project.

LiDAR – Light Detection And Ranging – this was carried out in partnership with Durham University, the Forestry Commission, and Network Mapping Ltd.  A helicopter was used to carry the LiDAR equipment for the initial scan – a pulsed laser beam measured over 20,000 points per second over the complete woodland.  The bounced return from the laser shows ground level, shrubbery and other objects on the landscape, as well as the tree canopy.  This type of mapping can show up archaelogical remains, and some areas of interest were revealed.

Some of the events and projects carried out by the Friends group are now also part of the history of the Wood, for example the Chopwell Forest Festival which was held each summer for 14 years.