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TV star Tony Robinson gets hands on at Helmsley’s Duncombe Sawmill

New TV series airing this month gives Tony a woodworking lesson as he explores the  North York Moors National Park

A Helmsley business and the National Park will be the stars of the show during an upcoming episode of a new TV programme hosted by Tony Robinson.

Episode five of Tony Robinson’s Coast to Coast, due to air on Channel 5 on Good Friday (14th April) at 8pm, will feature the Duncombe Sawmill, showcasing the cycle of timber being grown locally, worked with at the Sawmill and then used within the National Park.

The series follows Tony Robinson travelling coast to coast across the country, using Alfred Wainwright’s route as a rough guide, but providing opportunities to branch off and go ‘behind the scenes’ with people and businesses along the way. 

A segment of the fifth episode will focus on the circle of locally sourced timber, following the FSC sustainable sawlogs being felled at Castle Howard, transported to Duncombe Sawmill and then cut down into components and made into a gate by Tony himself, with some help from the experts. The gate is then taken to the North York Moors National Park and hung by senior ranger Simon Bassingdale – demonstrating how the wood travelled just 15 miles in total from start to finish.


Emma Woods, owner of the Duncombe Sawmill, said: “It was a great day, and we all had lots of fun. Tony was incredibly funny, and very kind to pose for photos with us all! The TV crew were with us for about six hours, and Tony was keen to learn as much as possible in that time and be very hands on, so it was wonderful to be able to share the knowledge which has been passed down through the Sawmill’s history for more than 100 years. Our two joiners Eddie Garbutt and Steve Shepherd were only too happy to help him produce a truly beautiful finished product. We have supplied the National Park with entrance gates for a number of years, so it was fitting that the gate produced was then installed at Carlton Bank on the Cleveland Way, where it will hopefully remain for many years to come.”

Duncombe sawmill uses locally sourced FSC timber to create gates, fencing, outdoor furniture and timber framed buildings using traditional woodworking techniques, with clients including the North York Moors National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and London Fashion Week. Taking over the business 14 years ago, owner Emma Woods ensured valuable skills, passed down through generations for well over a century, were not lost forever. Today the sawmill has a team of eight people and continues to go from strength to strength.