“I was working with a woodsman when I was younger and I saw him cut his own finger off”. Mark explains whilst holding an instrument far more than capable of a similar occurrence. The London Log Company are a loose collective of individuals scattered through the city to the rolling countryside. Established in 2006 they’re an independent British company that provides wood and charcoal to the industries in the UK. They make the largest range of single species charcoals in Europe. Their central residence is a small two-door workshop in South East London, filled with paper and hessian sacks of different types of wood and boxes full of charcoal. Apple wood, English Plum and Oak to name just a few, all ticketed and labeled from origin to its then concluding destination.
We were lucky enough to get invited to their yard in Hertfordshire with company owner Mark, a visual array of old machinery, tools, burners and of course wood. A workman’s playground and photographers paradise, here is where much of the charcoal is made and a huge portion of wood is stored. Magnificent chaotic hills of used wood and chippings, ‘jenga’ like stacks of oak and silver birch glisten, towering over us as we make our way round what used to be a functioning pig farm. Lewis, who manages production on the site is maneuvering charcoal from the retort in an old pick up and sealing bags ready for the road as we gaze in awe at his effortless workmanship. The retort is a double-barreled steel oxygen-less sealed flask where the volatile elements are driven off by heat, leaving a high grade fixed carbon charcoal. “Part science, part alchemy and a lot of craft.”