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Not an Olympic Sport but... First UK Championship Log to Leg Race at The National Forest Wood Fair

Wednesday, 1st August 2012

Five of the best exponents in the UK from The Association of Pole Lathe Turners and Greenwood Workers will take part in the first ever UK Log to Leg Championships at the National Forest Wood Fair over August Bank Holiday.

A Log to Leg race involves highly skilled green wood workers, traditionally called ‘bodgers’, who start with a log of wood, split it, shave it, shape it and turn it into a matching pair of chair legs – all against the clock and using only self-powered tools: axe, shaving horse, draw knife and foot-operated pole lathe.

The racers will be: Peter Wood from Derbyshire, Dave Jackson from Worcestershire, Matt Jarvis from Warwickshire, Mike Ashton from Lincolnshire and Richard Law hailing from Yorkshire.

The UK Championship will take place on Monday afternoon, 27 August, with three preliminary heats held on Sunday 26 August.

The races will be interspersed with green wood craft demonstrations: stool making, steam bending, Scottish spurtel making, a turned baby’s rattle, green wood rounders bats, and Windsor chair construction.  Visitors to the Wood Fair will have ample opportunity to watch all these green wood skills at close quarters and talk to the craftsmen while they are working.

A bodger traditionally lived in the woods, taking his pole lathe wherever the work was, producing chair legs and other wooden items that were a staple part of every household. Now another generation of bodgers work in the woods, run courses for people to try their hand at the art or even build their own pole lathe, and make a range of intriguing items from unseasoned (green) wood found in the woods.

Jim Steele, of the Association of Pole Lathe Turners, said: “Bodgers’ Corner at the National Forest Wood Fair is always a great place to be!  We all really enjoy this event and holding the first ever UK Championships here is going to make this year’s Wood Fair even more special.”

Nick Fell, Forestry Manager at Leicestershire County Council, said: “It’s amazing to watch these superb craftsmen convert a log cut from a tree into a beautifully sculptured chair leg in a matter of minutes.”

The National Forest Wood Fair is organised by the National Forest Company and Leicestershire County Council, and will see awe-inspiring lumberjacks, horse logging, chainsaw carving, pole lathe turning, forest machinery, falconry and lots of children’s activities from eco art to greenwood crafts, making pizzas to scaling the climbing wall. For more information on the Wood Fair visit the website http://www.nationalforestwoodfair.co.uk/

There is a free park and ride service from Leicestershire County Council’s County Hall and entry discount for cyclists.

Tickets cost:  adults, £9; concessions, £6; families, £19 (includes parking). Buy online in advance and save £1 per ticket.

For more on Beacon Hill Country Park visit: www.leics.gov.uk/beaconhill

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