As part of the Forestry Commission’s centenary celebrations, Stonehaugh village in Northumberland has three new totem poles.
An open day was held on 2nd November for the local community and those involved in the project in order to celebrate the occasion. John Paterson, Director of EGGER Forestry and Jonathon Stephens, Plant Manager Finance/Administration attended on behalf of EGGER.
The Stonehaugh totem poles have been an important feature since 1971, 20 years after the village was constructed to house the Forestry Commission workers who were establishing Kielder Forest.
Due to the natural lifecycle of timber the original poles eventually decayed and have had to be replaced, and this is their fourth inception. This time it is hoped their lifespan will be increased by inserting lengths of water main pipe into the ground to act as collars and protect against rot.
The poles have traditionally been created by local people supported by Wark Parish Council and local forestry staff, and this has also been this case this time.
Steve Batey, the Stonehaugh representative on Wark Parish Council who led the project and who also works at EGGER Hexham, has worked hard to coordinate the project which involves foresters, transporters, carvers, sponsors, and the local community.
Children at Wark primary school have helped to design one of the poles, while EGGER and the National Park have helped to design the other two. Steve explained: “Each pole is different - one traditional, one incorporating the children's ideas, and one depicting animals to represent the local wildlife.”
After being felled by Dockray Forestry, the trees were transported by R&H Scott to Wood Actually in Minsteracres, Northumberland, into the capable hands of Simon Jackson. Simon, the son of a forester, has been chainsaw carving professionally for over 25 years. All of the poles were then transported to this year’s Northumberland County Show on 27th May where the public could see their transformation into works of art.
The totem poles were then transported back to the village and installed this autumn.
Alex MacLennan, Forestry England’s Recreation Public Affairs Manager Northumberland, said: “We are delighted to see this project come towards conclusion nearly a year after the last set of totem poles have been removed.
“This project sees a partnership between local people, Wark Parish Council, Forestry England, Northumberland National Park, forestry experts, the timber trade such as EGGER and R&H Scott Timber Haulage and local craftsmen as well as sponsorship from the timber industry. It is fitting to make this happen towards the end of the Forestry Commission’s centenary year – Stonehaugh was constructed to support the creation of England’s largest commercial forest in England at Kielder in the 1950’s.”
John Paterson, Director of EGGER Forestry, added: “We are proud to have been involved in supporting the creation and installation of the new Stonehaugh totem poles, and are pleased we have been able to help both the local community as well as one of EGGER’s own employees, Steve Batey. I would like to extend my congratulations to Steve on coordinating this important community project.”
Glen Sanderson, Chairman, Northumberland National Park Authority said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring one of the new totem poles at Stonehaugh as part of our celebrations for the 70th anniversary of UK National Parks. Stonehaugh is one of a small number of villages within the National Park and we recognise the totem poles symbolic presence and value, felt by local residents and the wider community, as well as inspiring many visitors to Northumberland National Park. It is wonderful to know the poles will be at the heart of the Stonehaugh community once again and will symbolise wildlife within the Park for decades to come”.