Heritage Oak floor by UK Hardwoods

UK Hardwoods

There is a certain romance about wood – the magic of woodland, the folklore, its pivotal role in nature and enduring contribution to the environment. There’s the sweet chestnut, introduced by the Romans more than 700 years ago, or the graceful ash, thought to have medicinal properties and known as The Tree of Life in Norse mythology. Then, of course, there is the mighty oak – regarded as sacred to many. Roman emperors had crowns made from oak leaves and we adopted them as a national symbol – as emblems for the National Trust and The Woodland Trust.

There’s nothing that gives more pleasure in the home than to run your hand along a well-worn wooden banister, or to gaze upwards and feel comforted by the protective strength of a sturdy beam, or to enjoy the smooth grain of the floor beneath your feet.

Polly Goodman – who runs UK Hardwoods from the sawmill in the wonderfully named Folly Lane in South Molton with her boyfriend, Tom Bedford – understands the passion people feel for wood. They might be cutting a plank of wood for flooring or joinery together when she will spot something beautiful or quirky and silently point it out to Tom.

“Every piece is different,” enthuses Polly. “When we cut them, we still don’t know what we’re going to get. Every time you cut into a tree, you get a surprise. We had one with brown oak fungus – it makes the wood a kind of deep chocolate brown. We found a complete bee’s nest in another tree – the perfect hexagonal – which was really exciting. There is a real romance to it.”

UK Hardwoods was established in 1979 by Steven Bedford, who recognised a demand for real wood flooring, having produced some solid oak flooring for his own home. The trees all come from hardwood grown in the family’s own managed woodland and from certified British woodland and estates. Tom has two older brothers and a sister, but it was he who stepped forward to take over from his dad. In the last three years, he has developed the business to concentrate on flooring although still producing beams, cladding and wood for joinery.

Wood has been at the heart of housebuilding for centuries, but fashions change and today, wood is truly centre stage. Our love of country classics and the recognition of the importance of sustainability has made wood popular again. Polly thinks that TV shows like Grand Designs and other interiors shows and magazines have helped too.

“Some people buy wood because they want to paint it, but more and more people are buying wood because they want to see it. They also care about the supply chain, traceability and welfare. They want traditional native species, are more locally minded and don’t want it to travel too many miles.”

The attention to detail and the obvious love of the beauty of wood sets UK Hardwoods apart. This young couple are building the business and building a home – converting a Dutch barn close to the timber yard with wooden frames, cladding and flooring. “Wood grows with the family and in a hundred years, there’s no reason that our floors shouldn’t still be there.”

Polly and Tom make sure the customer gets the very best. “We want people to have what’s right for them,” says Polly. “They have to want it. They aren’t buying our wooden flooring to put a carpet on it.”

Flooring ranges (which can have a width of up to 400mm, twice that of most commercial sawmills) include ash, Scots pine and oak that comes in three styles – Heritage, Character and Estate. “Oak is the one that everyone’s heard of. We also ask some customers if they have considered ash. A lot of people buy pine because they are trying to match existing pine floors in a Victorian house,” says Polly.

“Heritage Oak is something we decided to do. My parents have a very old house and they wanted new flooring that would look right. It’s become a bestseller in really old country houses and barn conversions because it looks like a reclaimed floor. Oak is timeless. It always looks great. It’s not the boldest design statement ever, but it goes with anything.”

One new product is oak garden sleepers, inspired by another popular design trend. They can be bought cheaper elsewhere, admits Polly, but these beautiful slabs of wood aren’t tanalised, so there are no harmful chemicals and therefore they have sustainable, green credentials.

This family business is in safe hands with Polly and Tom – he was named 2020’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the North Devon Business Action Awards, so he must be doing something right!

With a flair for design and some self-build experience, it might be a natural progression to head down a design consultancy route. But Polly isn’t tempted. She wants to concentrate at UK Hardwoods on doing what they love at the cutting edge. “So far, it’s all going well. Touch wood,” she laughs.

www.ukhardwoods.co.uk

UK Hardwood. Tom Bedford and Polly Goodman
Heritage Oak by UK Hardwoods

UK Hardwoods

There is a certain romance about wood – the magic of woodland, the folklore, its pivotal role in nature and enduring contribution to the environment. There’s the sweet chestnut, introduced by the Romans more than 700 years ago, or the graceful ash, thought to have medicinal properties and known as The Tree of Life in Norse mythology. Then, of course, there is the mighty oak – regarded as sacred to many. Roman emperors had crowns made from oak leaves and we adopted them as a national symbol – as emblems for the National Trust and The Woodland Trust.

There’s nothing that gives more pleasure in the home than to run your hand along a well-worn wooden banister, or to gaze upwards and feel comforted by the protective strength of a sturdy beam, or to enjoy the smooth grain of the floor beneath your feet.

Polly Goodman – who runs UK Hardwoods from the sawmill in the wonderfully named Folly Lane in South Molton with her boyfriend, Tom Bedford – understands the passion people feel for wood. They might be cutting a plank of wood for flooring or joinery together when she will spot something beautiful or quirky and silently point it out to Tom.

“Every piece is different,” enthuses Polly. “When we cut them, we still don’t know what we’re going to get. Every time you cut into a tree, you get a surprise. We had one with brown oak fungus – it makes the wood a kind of deep chocolate brown. We found a complete bee’s nest in another tree – the perfect hexagonal – which was really exciting. There is a real romance to it.”

UK Hardwoods was established in 1979 by Steven Bedford, who recognised a demand for real wood flooring, having produced some solid oak flooring for his own home. The trees all come from hardwood grown in the family’s own managed woodland and from certified British woodland and estates. Tom has two older brothers and a sister, but it was he who stepped forward to take over from his dad. In the last three years, he has developed the business to concentrate on flooring although still producing beams, cladding and wood for joinery.

Wood has been at the heart of housebuilding for centuries, but fashions change and today, wood is truly centre stage. Our love of country classics and the recognition of the importance of sustainability has made wood popular again. Polly thinks that TV shows like Grand Designs and other interiors shows and magazines have helped too.

“Some people buy wood because they want to paint it, but more and more people are buying wood because they want to see it. They also care about the supply chain, traceability and welfare. They want traditional native species, are more locally minded and don’t want it to travel too many miles.”

The attention to detail and the obvious love of the beauty of wood sets UK Hardwoods apart. This young couple are building the business and building a home – converting a Dutch barn close to the timber yard with wooden frames, cladding and flooring. “Wood grows with the family and in a hundred years, there’s no reason that our floors shouldn’t still be there.”

Polly and Tom make sure the customer gets the very best. “We want people to have what’s right for them,” says Polly. “They have to want it. They aren’t buying our wooden flooring to put a carpet on it.”

Flooring ranges (which can have a width of up to 400mm, twice that of most commercial sawmills) include ash, Scots pine and oak that comes in three styles – Heritage, Character and Estate. “Oak is the one that everyone’s heard of. We also ask some customers if they have considered ash. A lot of people buy pine because they are trying to match existing pine floors in a Victorian house,” says Polly.

“Heritage Oak is something we decided to do. My parents have a very old house and they wanted new flooring that would look right. It’s become a bestseller in really old country houses and barn conversions because it looks like a reclaimed floor. Oak is timeless. It always looks great. It’s not the boldest design statement ever, but it goes with anything.”

One new product is oak garden sleepers, inspired by another popular design trend. They can be bought cheaper elsewhere, admits Polly, but these beautiful slabs of wood aren’t tanalised, so there are no harmful chemicals and therefore they have sustainable, green credentials.

This family business is in safe hands with Polly and Tom – he was named 2020’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the North Devon Business Action Awards, so he must be doing something right!

With a flair for design and some self-build experience, it might be a natural progression to head down a design consultancy route. But Polly isn’t tempted. She wants to concentrate at UK Hardwoods on doing what they love at the cutting edge. “So far, it’s all going well. Touch wood,” she laughs.

www.ukhardwoods.co.uk