6 April 2020

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With our clocks springing forward an hour into British Summer Time - it may feel like we have lost a precious hour's sleep each morning and start the day feeling a little more sleepy, but we can now welcome lighter evenings and hopefully warmer weather - it's also good to hear the birds and see nature thriving all around us with spring in full swing.

Welcome to the Land of Oak & Iron Newsletter

This more regular edition of our Forging Ahead newsletter looks at a couple of projects that are in development and will continue later in the year, along with some photographs to remind us of the beautiful place that is the Land of Oak & Iron. Take a look at some of the photographs of Land of Oak & Iron events in our on-line gallery.
Thread of Iron

Our Publications Group, who are part of the Land of Oak & Iron Trust, have been working hard in recent months to bring another 'lost' book back to life.

After the success of 'Men of Iron' and 'Tales of Derwentdale', the group turned their attention to 'Thread of Iron' by Douglas Vernon of Shotley Bridge, which has been out of print since 2003.

For anybody interested in the industrial history of the Derwent Valley this book is a must.  Written in two parts: the first focuses on the history of Shotley Bridge where Douglas lived and where the famous sword-makers were based; the second part details the history of the Consett Iron Company, from formation to closure in 1980.  The influences of these industrial enterprises stretched throughout the length of the Land of Oak & Iron, from the edges of the Pennines to the River Tyne and beyond.

Find out more about the book and launch event.
The Oak Beam Knee

Some months ago, Noel Adamson and Colin Douglas from the Land of Oak & Iron Trust, were discussing the role the Derwent Valley played in building wooden sailing ships - in particular, the supply of oak and ironware to the shipbuilding ports on the south coast of England and particularly Greenwich on the Thames.

From this discussion, an idea was born to create a display and scale model showing the hull structure and the part a 'beam knee' played in building wooden sailing ships (mainly warships) and to illustrate the use of nails, cable chains and anchors supplied by Crowley's industrial enterprise under contract to the Naval Board.

In ship-building, a beam knee is a reinforcement of the end of a deck-beam where it is attached to the side of a vessel to strengthen the whole against the racking effects of rolling at sea.  Naturally grown knees in the form of a crook shape were considered as the best, with oak timber being the strongest.

Henry VIII's (1509 - 1547) ship building programme used oak provided by many forests, mainly from the south of England, including the New Forest and his warship the Mary Rose had many hundreds of beam knees in its construction. It is more than likely oak was provided from Chopwell Wood, as in the case of HMS Sovereign of the Seas, built for Charles I (1625 - 1649), launched in 1637.

Find out how the project progressed and what happened next

On Sunday 29 March we all awoke feeling a little sleepier after losing an hour as part of the traditional Daylight Saving Time - but when did it start and why do we do it?

The clocks always 'spring' forward on the last Sunday in March (Spring) and 'fall' backwards on the last Sunday in October (Fall or Autumn) as part of British Summer Time (BST) and for the next 7 months we are no longer in Greenwich Mean Time.

It all started with the Summer Time Act of 1916, following a campaign by builder William Willet, who suggested longer daylight hours would enable people to spend more time outside and save energy (and candles for some homes still without electricity), it was also thought to help farmers, who relied upon the seasons and making the most of daylight hours.

This, however was not a new concept - with the idea going back to the ancient Romans who had a similar practice to make the most of daylight hours and use their time more efficiently.

And to finish - just a few of the photographs from our collection to remind us of the beautiful Land of Oak & Iron and some of the special activities we have shared together as a community.
Land of Oak & Iron_Wood Turning
Land of Oak & Iron_ Dormouse
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