A Welsh wood products company are celebrating ten years of helping create magical playgrounds for children to enjoy up and down the country.
In that time Ruthin-based Clifford Jones Timber have supplied Hampshire playground experts Handmade Places with almost £1 million of their laminated timber products.
The family firm’s posts and poles are proving the top choice for the outdoor toy designers to use in their exciting adventure equipment for popular public spaces, schools and even private celebrity gardens across the UK.
Playground builders from the Hampshire-based company have been coming back to Clifford Jones Timber time and time again for their installations across the UK.
Handmade Places’ managing director Gerald Davidson said: “We’ve been using CJT for many years now. It’s a good product, they provide great service and they machine the poles for us and do it well.
“The poles are laminated, round poles about six inches in diameter and we use them a lot in our builds because they look good.
“They can make up climbing trails that kids swing around on or do rope walks, support zip wires, swings, slides or as part of huge play structures with towers.”
Nigel Bacon, Sales Director for Clifford Jones Timber, said: “Our laminated timber is ideal for use in playground equipment and it has been very popular in this sector.
“It is clean, smoothly-finished, doesn’t splinter and is durable, light and strong and we send £100,000-worth of it to Handmade every year for them to use all over the UK.
“It is very popular in the leisure industry but it also has many applications in construction because of those qualities of toughness, durability and strength and because it looks good too.”
Clifford Jones Timber’s laminating plant can create moulded timber using a special glue also used in the aircraft industry to bind together sections of wood which are then passed through a £260,000 laminator in just six minutes.
The timber is then dried by three kilns powered by a 987 kilowatt biomass boiler which is fed with wood chippings taken from the 100,000 tons of timber which is processed on the Ruthin site every year.
Handmade started life 20 years ago as a small one-man business working out of a garage but grew to eventually be the large scale operation it is today, now owned by Broxap and running a 30,000 square foot workshop in Bordon on the edge of the South Downs.
Gerald, a father-of-two from Farnham, joined the business in 2006 and has seen its client list grow to include council playgrounds, service stations, hotels, farm parks and the Haven holiday resorts.
He said: “We did once design and install a children’s paradise on the Isle of Wight for a former pop star but I can’t tell you who, and even used CJT poles in constructing a dog agility playground at Battersea Dogs’ Home.”
Creating everything from £120,000 adventure trails over large areas, to £500 storytellers’ seats or button stools for just £95, Handmade insist on using quality products throughout which is why CJT fits the bill when it comes to timber.
Gerald said: “The poles are a great quality laminated product to start with. They don’t split like natural wood does when it’s cut, it is very smooth and extremely durable.
“CJT provide it to accurate sizes and treat it for us so it lasts which is handy, as well as sanding it to a play grade finish so it can’t splinter – essential for small hands.
“We supply CJT with our drawings and they work to our designs, machining all the poles for us and drilling the holes so that when we get them we can just pop them straight in to the design on site.
“Many of our designs come from one-off ideas – a teacher’s sketch or a child’s dream playground – all brought to reality by our team of expert 3D designers to captivate children’s imaginations.”
Handmade’s creations have been exported to Holland, shipped as far as Tiree in the Scottish Hebrides and used in vast open parks as well as schools or the gardens of individual homes.
Clifford Jones Timber was founded by the father of the current chairman, Alan Jones, in 1948 and has been at its Ruthin base for 25 years.
Every year 100,000 tons of timber from sustainable forests comes through the gates and is made into fence posts – they are the UK biggest producer with over four million a year – and gates, bedding for horses and even cat litter, and a range of wood fuels.
They use timber from forests all over the UK and also have a second site at Gretna in Scotland where they employ a further ten staff and their proud boast is that every scrap of timber that comes in is used.