Different parts of a wide variety of trees and shrubs have been used for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years by humans. Listed below are some of the common trees which grow in our local industrial treescapes and their uses. Many of these uses are now forgotten as material from petro-chemical sources has taken over.
Alder: Coppice poles used for clog-making and charcoal used for gunpowder; bark used in dyeing cloth.
Ash: Various uses for the wood and timber including making waggons & carts, wheel rims, hay rakes, ladder-poles and tool handles.
Beech: (mostly planted in the nineteenth century). Used for furniture making, ladder rungs, rolling pins, tent pegs, treen and ox yokes.
Birch: Various uses for the wood including spoons and dishes; textile industry (bobbins, reels and spools); besom brushes; bundles made from twigs were used to take impurities from molten steel; sap used for wine and ‘sugar’; bark for making baskets; firewood.
Elm: Wood & timber used for furniture; water pipes, piling under bridges & at mill sites; keels of boats & ships; chopping blocks and wheel hubs.
Hazel: Split coppice poles used for hurdle making; basket making; fish traps; hoops for barrels; thatching spars and shepherds’ crooks; the nuts were harvested for food.
Holly: Branches in leaf cut for winter animal fodder; bark used for bird lime; wood used for butter prints and engravers’ blocks; and horse whips.
Oak: Beams and posts for house and ship building; tree nails and ship pins; wheel spokes; furniture; mining pit props; fencing; coppice poles for charcoal; bark used in tanning industry; acorns used for pannage (pig fodder).
Sweet Chestnut: (Much planted in the nineteenth century). Wood used in furniture making; coppice poles for pitprops; bark as alternative source of tannin for leather industry.
Sycamore (and Field Maple): Wood used for kitchen and dairy utensils; rollers including washing mangles; sections of trunk ‘green’ used for scraping out furnace linings.
Willow (Osier): Coppice poles used in basket making; for tool handles; wood for the flooring of carts and barrows; and milkmaids’ yokes.