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From Norway Spruce to Tipi Poles

Norway spruce from the RFS Hockeridge and Pancake Woods is being used as tipi poles and flag poles around the country, thanks to the work of a small group of dedicated foresters.

By Jon Faulkner · June 27, 2022

Dave Faulkner established Whittlewood Concept Group and has been working woodlands for over 30 years. His brother Jon joined him nearly 20 years ago. Jon tells us about their tipi and flag pole projects.

“We have worked for David Hunt of Wessex Woodlands for many years. Wessex Woodlands has been working on a thinning and replanting programme in the woods. David showed us Hockeridge Wood as a potential site for our tipi pole production.

We were shown an easy access, level site containing closely planted Norway spruce.  This was an outgrown Christmas tree plantation. The trees were planted in 1998, so are now 24 years old. They were planted close together to encourage them to draw up taller. That means we have a tall thin tree to work with.

Perfect for poles

The Norway spruce is tall, thin and straight, it also has a consistent taper throughout its length.

For our poles, spruce is ideal. It retains its strength and when dry becomes light weight too. For this particular customer, the pole butts start at 130mm and taper down to 70mm. The top diameter is an essential specification as there is a metal sleeve that fit over it. The limbs are easy to remove during snedding and the peeler leaves a consistent finish for a working pole. Again, purely for this customer we sand these poles for a better finish.

We’ve been at Hockeridge on and off for four months on this hectare block. In total there are four equally spaced racks, storing poles within the racks and edge of the spruce block.

We also use the peeler within one rack too, this provides shelter while we work.

We started cutting racks in November and just completed the thinning now. We staggered cutting to fit around other work and the customers needs. In total, we have taken approximately 600 poles or so. There is scope for taking a few more as and when needed.

Cutting to order

As well as tipi poles of various sizes ranging from 5m to 12m in length, we also produce flag poles, horse jump poles and pioneering poles. Pioneering poles are used by the scouts for bridge building, rafting and shelter building. We are generally cutting to order now, which suits our beliefs of low impact forestry and sustainable management. We can work to anyone’s specifications. This includes lengths, diameters and a sanded finish.

We supply several large companies across the UK, with poles for weddings and events, and specific tipis as well as smaller orders for domestic use. There is a fair chance that a Hockeridge flag pole or tipi pole could end up somewhere near you! ”

At work in the wood

The Whittlewood concept group is a small group of foresters, working in establishment, hazel restoration and small scale low impact forestry. Working alongside David and Jon are: Bohus Masnicak who spent 4 years at The Forestry College of Jozef Dekret Matejovie and achieved his forestry degree; apprentice Matt Griffiths and David Field, part time.

Find out more at, Email: or Tel 01280 422 101. Follow on Facebook (@whittlewoodconcept