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Wood yew believe it?

Posted Sunday 6 September 2009

Keen archer Rev. Stan Brown aims to make up to five traditional longbows from the salvaged wood.Two yew trees felled at the Kingston Hill campus have been offered alternative salvation thanks to Kingston University Chaplain Reverend Stan Brown.  The enthusiastic archer has stepped in to give the timber a new lease of life by using it to make traditional English longbows.

The yews were removed as part of clearance work on the Kingston Hill site to make way for a new £30 million teaching building. 

"Reusing the yews seemed like an ideal opportunity to find ethically-sourced, low carbon footprint timber which is often extremely difficult," Rev. Brown said.  The species is particularly prized for bow-making as it offers the archer two woods for the price of one.  "Its pale creamy sap component is very strong when stretched and is used to make the outside of the bow while the pink red 'heart' of  yew tree is very strong when compressed and ideal to make the inside of the bow," Rev. Brown explained.

Rev. Brown, who is a member of the Company of Sixty field archery group in Oxshott, hopes he will be able to make anything up to five traditional longbows from the wood.  "All the longbows we use in field archery are handmade, so I'm hoping I'll be able to give a few away.  Making the bows, however, will be a long process as the wood needs to be seasoned for at least a year before it can be worked," he said.

Kingston University environmental management student Daisy Addison has been working at the Kingston Hill site this summer with developer Cantillon to find alternative uses for the demolition's by-products.  "Knowing that the yew wood was not suitable for commercial purposes, we were pleased to find this intriguing alternative use," she said.  "It's so important for materials to be recycled and re-used wherever possible and it's also great for students to see the University's commitment to doing this."

Director of Property Management and Development at Kingston University, Andrew McEwan said the University had been keen to minimise waste from the redevelopment.  "When we found out about Stan's unusual hobby we were delighted. Not only does it mean the wood doesn't get wasted, but it also helps a traditional woodland craft to thrive," he explained.

The new teaching building on the Kingston Hill campus will also become the home for the Kingston Business School.  The five-storey quadrangle building will be set around an atrium and will include a number of sustainable design features such as a ground-source heat pump and rainwater harvesting.  Once the new building is complete more trees will be planted to ensure the campus maintains its green feel.

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