Re-purposing greenheart timber is a vital part of our business at Howard Gibbons Reclamation and in doing so we are often de-constructing structures of strategic importance. A recent project took us to Portsmouth, to an area called The Spur Redoubt which encompasses some retired military defences. Designed to withstand prolonged sieges, a series of ramparts, bastions and outworks were created along with a bridge which, in its initial placement, would have been walked on by a very famous pair of feet! You don’t have to look far before you see the statue of Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson which stands on the very spot where he took his last ever steps on dry land before boarding his battleship, HMS Victory.

The deconstruction of Portsmouth Spur Redoubt Bridge

The deconstruction of the existing greenheart timber bridge

Howard Gibbons Reclamation was called to the site to help deconstruct the ekki and greenheart wooden bridge which now, as part of the Southsea Coastal Scheme, has to be rejuvenated. (The current flood defences are coming to the end of their lifespan and in order to reduce the risk of flooding, the seafront will be improved to protect the community whilst also preserving the maritime history.) Although the bridge has been in place for over 30 years and is no longer fit for its original purpose it certainly doesn’t mean that the greenheart timber has reached the end of its life too. We have brought the reclaimed timber back to our site on Exmoor and will be re-sawing the greenheart timbers to the exact specification required by its next sustainability-conscious owners, the Cotswold Canals Trust.

Jim White at the Cotswold Canals Trust says ‘ The timbers from Howard Gibbons Reclamation will be used to create balance beams for 8 new and replaced locks in Stroud. Our restoration project is partly funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and sustainability is very important to both them, and us at the Cotswold Canals Trust.  These tropical forest hardwoods are ideal for the job and it’s so much better than using fresh timber.’

The greenheart ekki timbers are stacked back in our yard