Reclaimed Pitch Pine Fenders

Pitch Pine grows in America; it grows over a wide geographical area-from central Maine to New York to South Carolina.

It gained its name due to it being a major source of pitch and timber for ship building, mine timbers, and railway sleepers. The wood’s high resin content acts as a preservative and in turn increases its durability. Pitch pine timber was also used for building radio towers in Germany.

Archaeological records indicate that the Native Americans all utilized this timber.

  • They used the pitch to treat rheumatism, burns, cuts, and boils.
  • Apparently, the pitch also worked as a laxative.
  • A pitch pine poultice was used to open boils and to treat abscesses.
  • On a more practical note; the Cherokee’s used pitch pine wood in canoe construction and for decorative carvings.

This reclaimed Pitch Pine came from the lead-in jetty in Tilbury Docks. The Docks are located at the mouth of the Thames and was opened in 1886 to alleviate congestion in the main London Docks in the East End. It is now undergoing a £1bn expansion to make space for container ships from around the world.

The lead-in jetty for the port is used by ships to temporarily moor and wait to be allowed entry into the port.

The main structure would possibly consist of 16 metre, 350x350mm Greenheart Piles. However, on the outer edge of the piles there would be “sacrificial timber” attached. Therefore, if there were any damage caused the outer timber it could be replaced at a fraction of the cost of replacing a main pile.

These are the fenders that measure 350x350x6-7m. They were wire brushed to remove as much grit and sand as possible before machining.

We used a machine called a Wood Miser to process the orders. This is a mobile band saw and is capable of cutting, not only pitch pine, but also some of our most dense timbers.

This is the inside of the fenders, planked.

This is what it looks like when laid

Never wanting to waste any of this beautiful timber, we put aside the outer edges. We were contacted by a local carpentry firm, who had been approached by a customer looking for two, 6m wide, sliding doors for their hotel. They wanted to install them on steel, industrial runners. The carpenter was instructed to only gently wire brush the timber and to be careful not to remove too many barnacles! I think you will agree; the results are stunning.