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A truly colourful wood

West Wood lies between Winchmore Hill and Coleshill, between Beaconsfield and Amersham. When Eric Miles, a local resident, told the Project some of his memories of his favourite woods he recalled a coloured dye being put in the trees in this wood.

"The leaves turned all colours, red, blue, yellow and more. They then felled the trees and removed the timber. The stumps remained the colour of the dye that was put in for a long time after."

As nobody knew what was behind this idea, we decided to make enquiries and, much to our delight, Gervais Sawyer from Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, came up with the answer.

"These were the Swingin' Sixties man! I remember it well."

At the time, Gervais worked for William Mallinson and was seconded to the English timber buyer, Mr Longmore at Whitmore's Timber.

"We went around looking at prospective sycamore trees (white sycamore was very much in fashion, especially with the Germans) which we would bore with the Matteson increment coring tool. This was very hard work and we risked breaking the tool at £300 a go. We then poured in the dayglo dyes into separate holes and hoped that diffusion would swirl them around and give the necessary psychedelic effect when the trees were cut into veneers. As I remember, it didn't work very well and most of the colours came out a bit muddy."

Coloured veneers are still used widely in the furniture trade, though are possibly not as popular as in the 1960s. They are most often used in marquetry, the antique tradition of inlaid wood works.

If you have anything which is made with coloured veneer, we would love to see it so please send in a photo.

Getting There

Several footpaths run through West Wood

Location

Between Coleshill and Winchmore Hill

Grid Reference

SU940952

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