How goes the Whistlewood Roundhouse?


Rain, rain go away. Come again when we have celebrated the opening of the Whistlewood roundhouse.

Well, that is a bit selfish, but we are stuck in the mud at the moment. We need several dry weeks for the site to drain. And then three months of good weather (average rainfall) to start, enjoy and complete our build.

Not that this will stop us planning and pulling together resources. And, of course, holding events and Working Saturdays at the site. Bring your wellies.

So this month we will think about the start of the build schedule, the wooden frame and decking, and the equipment we would like to borrow.

Initial build sequence

Sequence of events
This diagram shows the first three steps to building the roundhouse. Build partners will complete the track and dig the foundations. Volunteers will set up the site and most of the tasks thereafter – with suitable supervision.

So, we must complete three important tasks before we can start construction. As you know from last month’s post, we need the track to get the heavy equipment to the site without churning up the ground. Then we have to create a building site that meets Health and Safety standards. We will register the site with the Health and Safety Executive and from that point on will be open to audits. As members and other volunteers will build the roundhouse, this is particularly important to keep us all safe.

Shiver and shake

Our roof will be heavy, so the poles that hold it up must be strong. We are beholden to John Blunt of Staunton Harold for donating the larch for the poles, and the decking. volunteerFirst, we will visit John’s wood and select about 30 trees. John’s team will chop them down and then we will remove the branches and bark – volunteers needed. To make sure the poles will not shake or shiver a specialist will check them over and look for the telltale signs of cracking. Every pole that passes the inspection will receive a certificate.

Larix decudua
Name:Larix decudua ;Family:Pinaceae Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé ”Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz” 1885, Gera, Germany

Because we need to cut down the trees before the sap rises, we will also select the larch for the decking. But right now we don’t know how many trees we need.

What do shiver and shake mean? You will have heard the phrase ‘shiver me timbers’. It refers to the cracks that appear in load-bearing wood. It is a nautical/ maritime term. If your timbers shiver, then they may fail. Landlubbers – we in Derbyshire – use ‘shake’ to mean the same thing.



The bottle count

bottlesWe have reached our half way mark. Please keep collecting and ask as many people as you can to help. You can take your bottles to Whistlewood – or contact Whistlewood directly to ask for a collection.


Try your hand

volunteerOne of the beauties of eco-building is that we can all contribute to beautiful, environmentally friendly buildings. Our roundhouse is no different. To keep our costs as low as possible AND because we are a community, we are would like to invite members and other volunteers to learn and apply new skills.

  • Learn how to lay a tyre foundation
  • Help put down a bottle floor
  • Learn woodworking skills as we build the frame and decking and apply about 4,000 shingles
  • Learn how to build with straw bales
  • Learn how to render with lime and clay

Other opportunities will be available as the build progresses.

If you volunteer to build with us, you will learn alongside Whistlewood board members as our contractors show us how to complete safely each job. We will feed you and keep you refreshed. In some situations, we may be able to offer certificates. All we ask in return is a commitment to help with the build.

If you would like to point at the roundhouse and say ‘I built that’, or apply the skills to a build of your own – contact Whistlewood for more details.

If you are an employer, educator or charity, we would love to give your staff, students or the people you care for a unique experience. Contact Whistlewood for more details.

Equipment needed – referrals

All building sites need equipment for the duration of the build. Rather than tie up our money buying and selling the stuff we need, we hope that we can borrow equipment. If you have or know someone who has

  • Scaffolding (and the ability to erect it)
  • A secure container for tools
  • A 110V generator
  • Security fencing

that we can borrow, we would love to hear from your or be introduced. Here are some words to explain who we are and why we need this help:

“Whistlewood Common is a Co-operative and Community Benefit society. We exist to help our community and do not make profits. We hold events, run workshops and offer educational opportunities that help people understand how to live more sustainably.  Our rural ten-acre site encourages us to appreciate nature and the outdoors, by being part of it, not just an outside observer.  The site hosts events to bring our community closer, to make it a better place to live and to help us face future challenges.

“We are building a permanent structure on site so that we can host events year round and increase the scope of our activities.

“We are looking for the loan of equipment to help us manage the cost of the build. All individuals and organisations that support Whistlewood will be publicly thanked through our website and onsite.”

Raised hand icon made by Nikita Golubev from

Jeremy Bishop


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