Whitney Sawmills

Mowat & Company, Hereford, 2021



All photographs Ellie Walpole     Download Original

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The Woodland Heritage charity wanted to improve the visibility and safety of its sawmills customer reception. The new design needed to communicate their mission to ‘demonstrate the value of British woods’.

The team toured the site’s old buildings and discussed the best shed for a retrofit. The location, at the front of the site, should be prominent and distinctive. Glazing should provide eye contact between staff and customers. Long-distance travellers needed facilities for a cup of tea in the warm and a WC. Space to view samples and sawing techniques would help customers choose the right British wood. Fundamentally the materials should be sourced from the sawmill’s stock of British woods.

The design came naturally. Larch was used for the distinctive black cladding. A chestnut column, cut directly from the adjacent woodland, reminds everyone where the sawn timber comes from. An oak bench under a sheltered porch encourages casual conversation while timber is loaded up. Douglas Fir decking and ramp make the interior accessible to all over the raised insulated floor.

Windows and doors in premium Oak encourage customers to touch the building. A Burr oak counter demonstrates unusual decorative premium timbers. Smooth desktops demonstrate how Sycamore joinery has no bumpy grain. The space is heated with waste timber offcuts.

The reception is now visible to customers when they arrive and acts as a product catalogue of what British woods are available at the sawmill.

The increase in customer response and profitability has been amazing. The sawmill team have a new impetus for face-to-face consultations.

The charity has gained such confidence in the site that it has launched an online appeal to fundraise to buy the freehold and secure the long-term future of the site.


  • Completed: Dec 2021
  • Floor area: 43m2
  • Sector: Retail
  • Total cost: £71,200
  • Funding: Woodland Heritage
  • Tender date: Mar 2021
  • Procurement: JCT
  • CO2 Emissions: 3.83kg/m2/year
  • Address: Woodland Heritage Sawmill, Whitney-on-Wye, Hereford, HR3 6EZ, United Kingdom

Professional Team