BFT and Tim Stead

As the Tim Stead Trust continue their campaign to raise money to
 to acquire The Steading, along with the large archive of Tim Stead’s other works, we asked Pip Tabor to explain the link between BFT and Tim Stead.

Way back in the early 1980s, before the birth of Borders Forest Trust in 1996, the prime movers and shakers in the region were the folks behind Wooplaw Community Woodland. Tim Stead was a key player in this group and he was the activist behind much of the activity that took place there. Tim’s philosophy was that native trees needed to be planted to create the timber of the future – and to replace the timber he used to make his amazing furniture. Wooplaw Community Woodland engaged local people in tree planting and woodland crafts and much fun was had by all who got involved.

Tim had developed another vision – called no-butts – that would help get valuable hardwood out from small farm woodlands to the roadside where it could be collected and used rather than be left to fall. He was way ahead of his time in this approach.

In 1994 when plans started to be made for the Millennium celebrations, Tim was one of a group of local people who had big ideas about native woodlands and who came together to make something happen. A core group evolved and started to meet regularly in Tim’s wonderful house in Blainslie (The Steading). Here we planned, perched on elmwood stools around the well-table (where you could stare into the depths through the glass tabletop) or be amazed by the beautiful wooden forms that lined the room. I seem to recall Maggy providing great coffee and cookies too.

The result of these meetings was a Millennium Forest for Scotland project for the Borders. In fact, it was two inter-connected projects called Living with Trees and Working with Trees. The idea was to create a dynamic cycle of activity, where there was more native woodland creation and management, undertaken by communities across the Borders (Living with Trees) and encouraging the skills to design and make quality products from these woodlands (Working with Trees). The latter project had sustainability at its heart – again demonstrating Tim’s advanced thinking. This was the start of both Borders Forest Trust and the WoodSchool, so you could say BFT was born in the Steading.

Tim was a founding Trustee of BFT and the driving force behind the Wood School. I suspect neither would have happened without his energy and vision.

Readers who are not familiar with Tim Stead (who died in 2000), may know the millennium clock tower in the National Museum of Scotland, for which Tim was one of the master makers. The project was one of Tim’s last and the clock first chimed on 1st of January – the day we planted our first tree at Carrifran Wildwood.

If you would like to donate to the Tim Stead Trust: