Dukeshouse Wood Heritage Project

Venue Scott’s Cafe at the Forum Cinema Wednesday 19th at 7:45.

Interesting meeting last night. Here are a collection of notes taken at the meeting and thoughts following the meeting.

Main drivers of this project are Jim, Andy, Luke and Mike. The project was an idea from TT and now it is supported by Hexham Community Partnership who were also present at the meeting.

Jim opened the meeting thanking all present and introduced his team. He acknowledged this was a outcome of the TT meeting. In his introduction he outlined his vision of what the project was about. My notes read…but please if anyone reads this fill out the missing phrase to make sense.  Re eduction of forestry, holistic practices, a basis for sustainability / employment and possible tourism. They are looking for grant funding and have approached the Heritage lottery fund. Why Hexham was to be discussed later in the meeting.

Jim passed the discussion over to Luke who is involved in woodland management.

Luke enjoyed Dukeshouse Wood for many years of his youth using it for recreation he mentioned cycling. He saw this project as an opportunity to provide sustainable forest management – recreation value- he mentioned that the woodland was not suited to large clear cutting and he brings experience from Europe  where “continuous cover” techniques of tree cutting is used. He went on to mention horse logging a craft where there are only 12 recognised practitioners left in the UK. In terms of value woodland is generally seen as a stable investment. Land has an intrinsic value and timber a desirable asset. Public access is a possible stopping point for a wider interest in purchase as there are liability issues for the business felling trees. Other topics touched on were woodfuel, incentre heat incentive – commercial – biomass fuel miles and transport costs. Community heating possible grant funding available with subsidised sales for low income families. Luke passed back the meeting to Jim

Jim touched on Coppicing and carbon stored mainly in the root stock, to be included in the Heritage offer. Innovation wood fuel option requiring a wood burner and Jim mentioned community shares. Charcoal production was mentioned. Jim passed the discussion back to Luke.

Luke mentioned Agro-forrestry a good soil conditioner and Biochar. David seconded the benefit of such a soil type.  Luke went on to discuss coppicing and broad leaf diversity and the need for light when planting to get the biodiversity.

It was suggested in the Q&A that Dukeshouse Wood was primarily used by the public for recreation and that biking ( not motor bikes) should be a consideration. Choppwell wood, ( a community wood ) and the festival was mentioned.

Jim then briefly discussed valuation and that closed competitive bids were to be submitted.  think the date was the end of this month. Jim passed the meeting over to Andy.

Andy discussed the heritage of leather based products in Hexham going back to 3000 BC with Bronze and Iron age remains in the locality. Celctic breeding of sheep and cattle suited to the region being sold to the Romans in a bartering arrangement. He mentioned the Anglo Saxons driving out the Celts and Hexham being formed in 682 AD

The meeting of all the streams were very useful for production of leather goods and in the 1700’s tanneries in Hexham flourished. 6 tanneries in Hexham famous for making gloves and declined in 1886. John Riddley gloves and Andy passed around gloves Ochre in colour with a link to Ochrelands in Hexham. The tanneries closed in 1974.  What leather craft production offers are skills and trades lost to be rediscovered . Andy mentioned the Guild of glovers, top quality craft people with a creative skill set. He mentioned textiles and NVQ’s and the connection with Oak bark / Larch to making fine leather goods.

Gillian asked about compliance of the evaluators before a charity would agree funding. Was this covered and it was not 100% clear if this was the case fellows versus chartered status was briefly mentioned. With the land would come shooting rights said Luke but not the sale of minerals below the land.

Jim mentioned that contacts for the group could be sought through him. and then went to mention funding..Heritage HLF thought there was nothing like this in the region and the project was a good fit. It offered eduction, utilities and value…( cant read my own notes). It was said “Not the driver” but I missed the context of the remark. Sustainability – timber road side sales and apprenticeship scheme as income possibilities. Jim mentioned support from Hexham Partnerships and hoped to set up a IPS or CIC company to take the project further.

I stopped taking notes at this point.  If I have missed or interpreted wrongly, please Blog with corrections.

My perspective from this meeting was that we should take our hat off to Jim for championing this project in such a short time. He has shown tenacity and vision in getting it going. Unfortunately I am tied up with business matters of my own so I had to take a back seat at this time. If it had been left to me we would not have been in a position to make a bid. The TT energy group were instrumental in putting in the ideas and showing enthusiasm for the project but it is Jim’s single mindedness and focus that has brought it thus far.

I hope that TT will continue to support the group that forms out of the Dukeshouse Wood project and take an active role in community representation and possible fund raising. Tree sponsorship for Christmas is one point I missed that TT could actively engage in.

What do I learn from this project and TT’s involvement..I think we need to step back and look at what TT is about. Why has HCP engaged and in some way taken the lead, possibly because Jim is seeking out partners that have reputation and a solid punch in the presentation of his bid to the agent selling the woods. He needs credibility. If TT is in future to be taken seriously as a player to be sought out, we need “stuff” that is resources / financial power / a strong organisiation / legal footing. All of the raw enthusiasm is within TT. WE need to focus on growing that enthusiasm into a really powerful organisation  to meet the many challenges and opportunities ahead. There will be many other Dukeshouse Wood projects. TT needs to prepare itself to take them on.

7 thoughts on “Dukeshouse Wood Heritage Project

  1. Phil, that’s a great record of the meeting and the range of aspects that were covered. And I certainly second your comments on Jim and the future involvement of TT. I also agree that we should look at what TT is about, but I’m not sure that I agree with your conclusion. I’ve only been to a couple of meetings, but I’m hugely impressed by the way that TT operates at a range of levels or styles, from the very hands on things like gardening and apple pressing, through the hugely time consuming role in the Hydro project, to the involvement in Dukeshouse, which may turn out to be little more than making some introductions and allowing discussion at meetings. To my way of thinking TT has been successful in progressing all these activities. It will be interesting to get Jim’s view once he is clear of the woods, but I doubt that he has gone to HCP for its reputation and solid punch so much as that it is just the sort of function it was set up to fulfil, and which a large open organisation like TT would always find difficult. We could expend a lot of effort in making a parallel HCP, but I think TT has a different role.

  2. Great write up Phill
    I think along the lines of Roland. TT is an catalyst for the community action as is the HCP. We all need partners. TT could have put in the bid since we have company status, but I think that the more organizations that take a part with TT even a small part the better.
    TT has its style and the HCP has another so fill slightly different roles.

  3. I have just watched the video on TED on one of many other Blogs on this site. https://blog.transitiontynedale.org/2012/09/16/ted-talk-on-incredible-edible-todmorden/
    I understand that for food, an army of volunteers is a a powerful force. The damage to reputation, infrastructure costs and ongoing maintenance is all low risk. They do a great job in Todmorden and I applaud their action. For large projects there is a need for a different structure and I am not sure that it is against TT or the wider movements interests to make such structures work.

    Perhaps we need to liaise more closely with Transition network to bring the power of the wider group. One such resource we can look to is TRANSITION-TOWNS @ JISCMAIL.AC.UK. it is my understanding that this is a research organisation for Transition. I am not sure of the scope of this group. Here is a link to their 2012 conference. http://static.transitionnetwork.org/tnconf2012/photos/Saturday/photos/DSC_0099.html

    I agree with other contributors that we need partners in the community but we also need to get the message out about the purpose of Transition. The community will be there even it is a slow evolution and for this HCP do a great job. If we fail to get the message across about the purpose of Transition unfortunately we may fail our children in not realising that future.

    1. The Last paragraph of phils comment is how I see what the TT purpose is. Its about awareness raising as if we cannot make progress on that issue in our own and the wider community then as Phil says “All is Lost” I certainly fear for our grandchildren’s future which will be different and what we can do for them is to hopefully make the TRANSITION LESS PAINFULL.
      I do not hear mention about Peak Oil within TT or a discussion about back-tracking ideas from a desirable future. We are doing loads of stuff on the ground but are we thinking, awareness raising, as a group about our future in the 30 – 70 year range. No we do not.
      I wish to start a group to think about these issues ,to lobby local goverment, and to make the subject more concrete..

      1. Quote from James Lovelock
        “The greens use guilt. That shows just how religious the greens are. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting CO2 in the air. We do now know what we are doing when it comes to CO2 [emissions], but you don’t have to go right over the top like the greens and shouting, “You’re guilty!” I don’t like it.”

        I think we have to remain evidence based if we are to gain acceptance. The pressure to grow the organisation rapidly in my perspective is that by the time the evidence base is 100%, it will be too late for an evolutionary approach to transition. Now that a research arm is in place within transition (http://static.transitionnetwork.org/tnconf2012/photos/Saturday/photos/DSC_0099.html) perhaps our role is more as a facilitator between the green pressure groups and the town councils. A bridge based upon consensus, sound science and community.

  4. The evidence base will be 100% when we finally meet the crisis, we as a community have to “Second Guess” what may happen based on evidence and also some woolly or radical thinking. The problem is that National governments will not move until evidence based actions have proved themselves.
    Local government Hexham town and NCC being closer to their community’s is where that evidence can be tested and discussed and where the action for individual Transition movements TT lies. The National Transition movement is there to support us and to try to move National Government thinking.

  5. Absolutely agree that we’ve got to look beyond the locality and get national government(s) to address the issues. The sad thing is that years of privatisation and globalisation mean that governments have lost the power to do anything purposeful, and just fall back on winning the next election – and having helped to create a mindless population of consumers rather than voters, pitch their campaign at the few in marginal seats who might swing it for them.
    We need two-pronged action: as well as taking positive sustainable action locally, we need to involve people in lobbying the government to think about the future welfare of the country/world at large and not just what big businesses want. You’d think execs didn’t have children or any stake in the future wouldn’t you! Have they all got bunkers on Mars?
    The “50 months to go” report ought to make any sane people sit up . . . but unfortunately climate change has become the unmentionable elephant in the room in polite society! It’s weird – everyone can see how bad things are in the rest of the world, but nobody seems to care – or worry about the future here.

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