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Bodgers at Westonbirt 2003


For the fourth year the annual Best in Show award was sponsored by Woodland Heritage. This year it was shared by Pete Wood (above left) for his Lovers seat and Michail Schutte for his Stickback chair. Photograph: Susannah Davis.

Over 200 members of the Association of pole lathe turners (APT) descended on Westonbirt Arboretum over the weekend of 10th & 11th May 2003, the gathering now in its 12th year was the biggest yet. There were demonstrations of hurdle making, goblet and lamhog turning, steam bending, bushcraft and wheel wrighting. Along with an exhibition of hand made chairs and stools, proving that in this mechanised age, hand made craftsmanship is still alive and well in the APT at least.

The association which now has 550 members throughout the UK and a few from overseas has become the leading organisation in not just the ancient art of the pole lathe but the whole spectrum of green wood trades.

It is heartening that this resurgence of interest in these rural skills has come just in time to rescue much of this knowledge and many of techniques before they were lost.

Robin Wood, Britain’s only professional pole lathe bowl turner gave a fascinating talk on the history of wood ware and showed many examples of the craft from across Europe. Other highlights were the log to leg race, in which competitors have to turn two matching chair legs from a log racing against each other. The champion Olvin Smith managed his pair in 11 minutes from log to leg.

Westonbirt with its great heritage of tree growing and with so many fine specimens was a fitting setting for the event and fully emphasised the link between the tree and the chair in a very literal sense.

Membership of APT costs just £15 a year and members receive the Bodgers gazette four times a year as well as the chance to network with other greenwood craftsmen and women across the country. Membership secretary is Richard Charles, Hillock Cottage, Buckland Common, Tring, Hertfordshire, HP23 6NQ.

The 2004 get-together will be at Kentwell Hall in Suffolk.

Wade Muggleton (APT press Officer and writes for Traditional Woodworking Magazine).

Check out the website at for plenty of pictures of the AGM and a host of useful contacts and information on all matters greenwood.

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