The business was started in 1984
by two brothers Tom and Ben Sutton.
Tom Sutton was living on Eilean Shona off the coast of Ardnurmurchan where a forestry company was having difficulty dealing with felled timber
in the sea. One of the first jobs taken on by the business was rafting up these logs and taking them out to the waiting steamer in the Minches. Following this, Tom moved to the Scottish Border Country and worked felling and extracting hardwood timber
After the great gales of 1987, the business developed into one of buying and selling British hardwood timber
. "The economic climate meant that our timber
was mainly exported" - ash
to Spain, yew tree to Japan and France, sycamore to Germany and sweet chestnut
to Portugal and Italy.
As the market changed and the popularity of wood rose again our focus shifted back to the UK market. By 1996 the business was exclusively one of buying the best quality logs and having those logs sawn at a hardwood sawmills in Helmdon, then kilned by Ben at Sotterley Sawmills.
"Just two of us concentrating on projects allows a tight focus on our customers needs. We pride ourselves on scrutinizing every detail and undertaking every step of the process from selecting logs, cutting, sawing, air drying and kilning. Because we do all the work, we feel able to provide our customers with the quality they would like at a fair and competitive price."
Over the last twenty five years Sutton Timber have supplied wood to companies and sawmills for many large scale building projects including York Minster, the Globe Theatre, Windsor Castle, Houses of Parliament and the Royal Festival Hall
. It is interesting and enjoyable for the team to be involved behind the scenes.
Tom and Ben’s background is in conservation and they approach their trade with care.
"We believe that conservation is not just a label but also a lifestyle choice that we choose to adopt"
The hardwood forests of Britain and much of Europe have been managed and altered by mankind for centuries. The privately managed woodlands of Britain and Europe are fantastic nature reserves. Within our business we make decisions to help support the Estates’ foresters to work and protect these sites.
For example: trees are felled during the winter when the sap in the tree is down. Extracting heavy logs with large machines over wet winter ground damages the fragile soil structure of the forest floor.
To overcome this problem we purchase all our round logs
one year ahead of when we need them, and ask for the logs to be extracted from the forest when the ground is either frozen or after the end of the breeding season in the summer.
Putting something back
Our business cuts approximately 2000 trees annually
. However, over the last twenty years we have planted 54,000 trees
. This signifies a 14,000
increase in the number of trees in our forests. We are currently measuring and calculating how much carbon a year we emit as a result of sawmilling, kilning, haulage and general business activity; And we are also calculating how many tons of carbon a year the trees we have planted over the years absorb. The results are due soon.
During our working life we have worked alongside the foresters to preserve Europe’s forest habitats
and ensure sustainability