May WTC Photo of the Month
This month we look at a photograph of Lumber Jills at Culford Camp. It comes from the collection of Margaret Elizabeth Sutherland (née Coldwell), who is pictured on the far right-hand side of the centre bench stripping bark from tree branches and twigs.
As some readers might know, Lumber Jills, and Land Girls who worked in forestry before the government launched the Women’s Timber Corps in 1942, were sent to Culford Camp in Suffolk for training. Women learnt how to fell, measure, saw, and much more. Unlike WLA recruits, women also undertook physical exercises to strengthen their muscles ahead of the arduous work which lie ahead.
This photograph shows women peeling the bark off some of the smaller branches from trees which they had felled. The process of removing these branches, often using a small axe or billhook from larger tree branches was known as ‘snedding’. Stripping the bark from these twigs, described as ‘peeling’, was an important part in the preparation of the felled timber.
Removing this outer layer of bark, ‘using a sharp-bladed knife and downward sweeps’, helped the wood to dry before it was later used (Meet the Members, p. 21). Compared to the more intensive nature of felling trees, this type of work, though requiring precision and careful attention, would likely have been a relief.
If you’d like to see more photographs from Margaret’s collection, which have kindly been shared by her daughter Anne, then click here.