the timber industry EVOLVES

As the focus shifts to the commercial sector,
technology and techniques quickly develop

Before the war, research in the Forestry Commission consisted mostly of studies into species selection, the establishment of new sites, and nursery cultivation, with a few experiments in peatland research in northern Scotland. These increased in range and frequency throughout the 1950s.

The Engineering Branch was founded virtually from scratch in the late 1940s, under Chief Engineer Major-General H P W Hutson, tasked with building vital forest roads and maintaining machinery for the growing industry.



In the 1950s contact with other foresters, such as the Canadians who worked in Scotland during World War Two, started to introduce new techniques and tools into forestry.

While motor-powered equipment became more commonplace in the 1950s as the industry evolved, older machines were still in operation in Scotland until the early 1960s, and beyond.

Sales of timber rose in this decade from less than £500,000 to well over £2 million a year. Increasingly, the Forestry Commission was largely concerned with harvesting and marketing their timber, although research and re-planting also continued at a steady rate.

Click each image above to find out more about the equipment and techniques being used. If you have some special knowledge or insight into the vehicles, technology and methods of the 1950s, why not share it with us via Forestry Memories?


managing scotland’s land

The Dedication Scheme, introduced by the Forestry Commission in the 1950s, saw land devoted to industrial felling and timber processing in huge swathes, kickstarting the industry again.

Forestry began to move to higher ground, such as mountain sides and remote pastures, as agriculture took over the fertile lowlands.

The construction of Achnamara

The construction of Achnamara

forestry houses: the story of achnamara

Throughout the 1950s, The Forestry Commission built houses near working forests to give its workers somewhere to live. The scheme began in the 1940s in the aftermath of war, and soon expanded to the point where the organisation was building entire villages, like Achnamara, in Argyll and Bute.

These were more than just construction projects - they became communities, with shops, amenities, schools, and an ever-growing network of families, all working in the forest industries. Below are two quotes, courtesy of Forestry Memories (link) contributors who lived at Achnamara.

Achnamara houses by the lochside

Achnamara houses by the lochside

“I and my family, the Fergusons, moved to Achnamara in 1952 from Glasgow. There were myself, my young brother Alex; my young sister Rena and my mother, also Rena and father Donald.

One of our first jobs was to clear trees which had been blown down in that year's January storms - I was 17 years old then and myself and the other younger boy's job was to climb up and clear the higher branches which were tangled so that they could actually be cut down.

Other tasks we undertook were tree felling and planting; digging drains, brashing (pruning) and road building.” - Donald Ferguson

Artists’ impression of one of the bigger houses at Achnamara

Artists’ impression of one of the bigger houses at Achnamara

“I was at Achnamara Residential School for nearly the whole month of October in 1968. As a wee Glesga Keelie from Bridgeton I loved every minute of it.

We used to walk to church on a Sunday singing hymns and 'battle hymns' of Ibrox much to the annoyance of our old teachers Miss Tood and Miss Bell.

Every day was an adventure for us and I can still see the flies in the milk and remember those brilliant rambles through the forest.” - Charlie McDonald