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Vintage picture may unlock story of Chopwell's Lumberjills

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Photo from the 1941 sent to forest chiefs trying to unravel the war-time history of Chopwell Wood and the contribution of lumberjills

Forest chiefs are trying to identify people in a faded WWII photograph to help shed light on the work of north east lumberjills.

The Forestry Commission, Groundwork Northeast and Friends of Chopwell Wood want to highlight the stories of female forest workers posted to Chopwell Wood, near Gateshead, in the war and who helped supply desperately needed timber during Britain's darkest hour.

The family of one elderly lady from Barnard Castle who served in the 900 acre beauty spot has sent rangers a picture dating to 1941 which includes many women who may have served as lumberjills in the region. Help in identifying these people is desperately needed as part of a potential project to record the experiences of these remarkable women.

Liz Searle, Friends of Chopwell Wood, said:

"The family thought the picture was taken in Chopwell, but it may have been taken elsewhere in the north east of England.  What is certain is that it could help us in our search for more information on the wood's war-time history.  It's becoming quite a detective job and we are following leads from across the country."

The picture is titled "Home Grown Timber Department", the organisation that preceded the Women's Timber Corp.

If you can help contact Joanne Norman on 0191 5672550 or email

Forestry Commission Chair Pam Warhurst is amongst those backing efforts to commemorate Chopwell's lumberjills.  She said it was vital to gather information before the story slips out of collective memory.

Notes to Editor

  1. Groundwork North East is working with the Forestry Commission and Friends of Chopwell Wood to offer more opportunities for people to access activities in Chopwell Wood.

  2. Groundwork North East is committed to the improvement of local communities in areas of need.  Through partnership we help to inspire change that will secure all our futures.  Operating throughout the region, with dedicated teams based in all four sub-regions.  We specialise in environmental improvements, employment and business services, green economy projects and climate change activities.  Our success is based on engaging local communities, young people, local businesses and the public sector.

  3. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For more visit

Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.