Work in the Woods at the Green Wood Centre, Coalbrookdale

Volunteer, Charlotte Murray, reflects on her recent work days at the Green Wood Centre, Coalbrookdale.

As a volunteer of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, I have been given the opportunity to try my hand at a number of skills required in the conservation of natural reserves such as rebuilding a fence, scrub clearing, building an otter den, and most recently – green wood working.

The Green Wood Centre in Coalbrookdale is on a mission to promote the value and benefits of small woodlands to create a more sustainable society. They provide a platform for woodland owners, workers and members to improve understanding, awareness and sustainability of small woods. With this in mind, they provided a training opportunity for the volunteers of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust to gain experience in traditional Green Wood Craft skills.

Barn at green wood centre

Nestled in the Ironbridge Gorge, the Green Wood Centre is fitting for a few days working with wood. Surrounded by trees, the rustic buildings are all constructed from natural materials, with the barn having been built by volunteers of the centre. 

The course was 6 days in total, with some of the volunteers having taken part in horse logging in the first couple of days, which was located in a nearby working woodland and demonstrated practical low impact extraction of wood from the forest. They also learned how to make charcoal, operate kilns, make a fire and cooking on a campfire.

Working horses
Kiln
Broomsticks

The next two weekends involved making a stool, a framed hurdle and various autumn crafts, including the traditional besom (or broom), a ‘kypsy’ gypsy basket and surprisingly delicate wooden flowers.

Charlotte

The stools were the most challenging, as well as being most rewarding – as we transformed a chunk of ash wood into (almost) perfectly rounded stool legs using the traditional pole lathe. It was hard work – as temperatures dipped below freezing, we worked by the fire but quickly warmed up. We left feeling accomplished, with skills to take on to the next work party and somewhere to sit whilst we work!

All at green wood working centre