September WTC Photo of the Month

Unsurprisingly, most of our photographs so far have focused on women outside, in the forests, carrying out a range of forestry tasks. For September’s photo of the month, we take things inside to explore where Lumber Jills lived – and specifically slept. Belonging originally to former Lumber Jill Margaret Elizabeth Sunderland, the photograph below shows where women lived at Culford Camp in Suffolk.

Accommodation at Culford Camp, Suffolk. Margaret Elizabeth Sutherland (nee Coldwell) at Culford Camp, Suffolk
Accommodation at Culford Camp, Suffolk. Source: Margaret Elizabeth Sunderland collection.

Culford was one of the Women’s Timber Corps training camps, where women took their first tentative steps into the forest, learning the basics of what it meant to be a female feller. The photograph shows women’s accommodation in a hut, which slept around 8 women. The room is somewhat sparsely decorated, with each woman given a bed and chair, with a couple of rugs attempting to make it more homely. Women’s possessions, such as a couple of suitcases are stored underneath their beds – maximising the space available. Above each woman’s bed is a small window, each holding their breeches, presumably airing and drying them after a hard day’s work.

The Lumber Jill pictured towards the front right-hand side was clearly fatigued after her training, as she needed another woman, maybe a hostel warden, to ring a bell to wake her from her slumber. Another woman sleeping opposite appears to shoot her daggers with her eyes, also reluctant to start the day ahead.

Women from all around the country were thrown together, living and working in close proximity to each other for months at a time. This photograph shows what that looks like, giving a glimpse into what it meant to be a Lumber Jill in training during day – and night.

Fancy seeing other photographs from Margaret’s collection? Then head over to her page to see some more shots of her time at Culford. Also, check out the Soil Sisters History Pin map, which shares other photographic gems from the camp.

Did you or a member of family work in the Women’s Timber Corps? If so, then get in touch.

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