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Rare elm timber for the National Forest Wood Fair

Wednesday, 3rd August 2011

Some of the rarest timber in the country has been milled in Leicestershire today in preparation for the National Forest Wood Fair.

A mature elm tree, recently felled due to Dutch Elm disease, has been sawn into boards using a mobile saw bench. Some of the boards have already been ‘bagged’ by local woodworkers to make into fine furniture such as benches and table tops, and these will be on display as finished items at the National Forest Wood Fair on Bank Holiday Monday 29 August; some of the boards will be available as timber for craftspeople to purchase on the day.

20 million elm trees were lost from the English landscape due to Dutch Elm disease in the 1970s. Leicestershire County Council, which organises the National Forest Wood Fair in partnership with the National Forest Company, is working with King & Co Tree Nursery in Essex to try and reintroduce the elm tree in Leicestershire, through the Leicestershire Elm project.

Stock from two isolated healthy trees was propagated and has produced trees that are now ten years old and appear to be disease-resistant. Some of these young trees have been planted in Leicestershire’s country parks and schools.

People can learn more about the Leicestershire Elm Project, which has seen elms planted at 28 county schools and a number of the council’s country parks, at the National Forest Wood Fair on Bank Holiday Monday 29 August, as well as seeing items made from the now-rare timber.

Nick Fell, Forestry Manager at Leicestershire County Council, said: ‘It is very exciting to think we might be able to see elms in the hedgerows again. Elm used to be as prevalent in the English landscape as the oak tree is today, and it was tragic to see them decimated by Dutch Elm disease.

‘It is unusual to have access to mature elm timber and a great coup for local woodworkers to get hold of some. It will make a great addition to the Wood Fair.’

The National Forest Wood Fair is held at Beacon Hill Country Park and will run from 10am – 5pm on Bank Holiday Monday 29 August. Entry costs adults £8, concessions £5 and a family ticket £18 (for two adults and three children).

Attractions at the Wood Fair include lumberjack display, chainsaw carving, a log to leg race, horse logging, birds of prey, eco-art, climbing wall, live acoustic music and clog dancing – plus delicious locally-sourced food and drink.

A Park & Ride service will be available, enabling visitors to leave their cars at County Hall, Glenfield, Leicester, and travel by bus – free of charge – to the Fair. The service will run from 9.30am-6pm. New for this year, cyclists get a discount on entry to the Wood Fair.

Beacon Hill Country Park lies within the ancient Forest of Charnwood and is close to the attractive village of Woodhouse Eaves, just five minutes drive from Junctions 22 or 23 of the M1. The Country Park, owned and managed by Leicestershire County Council, with its craggy summit and panoramic views, is just one of the many visitor attractions across the three counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire that make up The National Forest.

For further information on the National Forest Wood Fair see   www.leics.gov.uk/woodfair