Barnsley Man Logs On To A Roaring Business Idea

Robert Lodge of Firewood Logs

When Robert Lodge installed a log burning stove in his farmhouse near Tankersley, Barnsley, he could hardly imagine what would happen next.

First the local pub and then other locals asked him to help them find hard to source timber for their own new stoves and fires.

So adept did he become, that an inkling of an idea began to form to diversify his farm business. Five years later, having spent £30,000 on timber processing machinery, 90% of his time is spent on his new timber-based business, rather than in the fields of his 1,000 acre family farm.

And Robert’s order book is bulging.

With a presence on Ebay and Facebook, he’s taken to cyberspace to connect with the soaring number of customers wanting to come home to a real fire.

Robert, 48, explained:

“I never had any intentions of getting into the firewood business, but it really sort of crept up on me.  Initially I just used wood laying around farm for my own needs, but things took off from there.  The number of people installing woodfuel boilers and log fires is really amazing.  That’s partly due to the surge in energy prices making it more attractive, but there’s also a feel good factor looking at an log fire and also using a more eco-friendly fuel.”

Robert Lodge of Firewood Logs

Robert’s success is music to the ears of the Forestry Commission, which believes that woodfuel could be a major growth area for businesses and woodland owners in South Yorkshire.  Stoked by the prospects, Robert recently joined a five day fact finding mission to Austria, organised by the Forestry Commission and South Yorkshire Forest Partnership.  It was funded by a European Union scheme called Activating Forest Owners, which has invested 200,000 Euros over two years into South Yorkshire to boost the woodfuel sector by getting more woods into management.

Robert added:

“Austria is far more advanced than we are and have lots more biomass boilers, but we are moving in their direction as oil prices keep on going up.  The trip made me even more optimistic about the future.  But we need to get more local woodlands producing timber in South Yorkshire.  At the moment most of my supplies come from other parts of the country, especially the Midlands.  But there are lots of neglected woods here that should be put back to work.”

South Yorkshire has 11,465 hectares (28,662 acres) of woodland – over 9% of land area – but forest chiefs estimate that around half remains an untapped resource.  Yorkshire currently produces about 300,000 tonnes of timber each year – over a third of which comes from Forestry Commission woodlands.

Rudie Humphrey, from the Forestry Commission, said:

“Robert’s experience shows the two sides of the story.  Woodfuel is an opportunity to create profitable rural businesses and employment, but we need more raw materials coming out of local woods.  We also had woodland owners on the trip to Austria and the message is getting home.  Our local woods are a big asset for us and well managed can produce economic and conservation gains.”

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A 40 tonne elephant comes to Doncaster!


Richard Bell and the Earl of Scarborough at the launch event.

The latest Exhibition at The Point recreates a sculpture from Doncaster’s Sand House which was a Victorian mansion carved from sandstone.

Exhibition: The Sand House – The Elephant in The Room

Wednesday 2nd May – Friday 29th June

The Point, 16 South Parade, Doncaster, DN1 2DR

See more at: http://www.thepoint.org.uk/the-point

Follow us on twitter and watch the exhibition take shape: @darts_thepoint

A 40 tonne sand sculpture recreating the ‘Elephant and Mahout’ from Doncaster’s Sand House stand’s over two and a half metres high and forms the heart of a new exhibition at The Point.

It took Yorkshire based artist Jamie Wardley and his team a week to create.

Richard Bell, great-great grandson of the Sand House creator wants the town to have the chance to see the elephant again. He said: “The Sand House was unique – an example of Victorian eccentricity and ingenuity. Thanks to support from Heritage Lottery Fund through Arts Council England, I am delighted that people will get the chance to see the sculptures and find out more about this lost marvel.”

Helen Jones, Arts Development Manager at darts said: “We’ve never had an elephant in the gallery before – but with a double height roof space there is plenty of room for him and his mahout!

Opportunities to get involved-

Family Workshops – Saturday 12th May 2012

Learn sand carving and sand drawing skills at one-hour sessions in the Arts Park, Chequer Road- between The Point and Doncaster Museum.

Tickets available at The Tourist Information Centre (Blue Building) 38-40 High Street, Doncaster.

Stonecarving Demonstrations at Doncaster Minster- Thursday 24th to Saturday 26th May 10.30-3.30- Free Admission (Drop-in)

Oral History Day – Thursday 31st May 2012 –  11am and 6.30pm (Drop-in)

Share your personal stories of the Sand House and it’s tunnels and have them recorded to form a unique oral history of this lost marvel.

The Sand House – A Victorian Marvel’ – Thursday 7th June 2012

An illustrated talk about the Sandhouse from the mid 19th Century to the present day.

Tickets are £2.50 and are available from the Reception team at The Point.

For further information please contact:

Helen Jones, Arts Development Manager, darts

Tel: 01302 341662, email: helen@thepoint.org.uk

Richard Bell, Project manager of exhibition

Tel: 07777688438, email: thesandhouse@btinternet.com

Jamie Wardley, sculptor

Tel: 07917 800 361 email: jamie@sandinyoureye.co.uk

contact:       shaun@sf-pictures.com

web:            www.shaunflanneryphotography.com

twitter:         @sfpix

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