“Find something you’re passionate about – don’t follow the money.”

From its yard in Upminster, Essex, it reclaims tropical and temperate hardwoods, repurposing timber for future use in a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified process that helps prevent further deforestation, saves energy and mineral resources, and protects architectural history.

Since the business was founded by Janine Davies-Tutt in 2002, it has worked with major venues including RHS Chelsea Flower Show, RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, the Eden Project, London Zoo and London’s Covid-19 memorial Blossom Garden at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Janine says: “It’s incredible to be featured in the NatWest and Getty Images’ campaign – it’s recognition of the progress we’ve made and a chance to give back to others starting out on their own entrepreneurial journey.”

Janine has worked within the reclamation industry for more than 30 years, learning the ropes from her father, who was a Thames waterman. She says: “I developed a fascination for reclaiming tropical hardwood timber, realising that this product, which is hundreds of years old, can be found in most marine environments around the coast, rivers and canals of the UK.”

Although Ashwells had to make some adjustments as a result of the pandemic, it was able to continue its day-to-day work of surveying, reclaiming, repurposing, and supplying FSC certified hardwoods mostly as normal. “Visits to our timber yard were adapted, and we incorporated more virtual tours of our ‘Aladdin’s cave’ of timber,” recalls Janine. Interestingly, she adds, its continuing professional development (CPD) guide was in high demand because engineers, architects and landscape designers were using their time to improve their knowledge of the properties and potential of sustainable reclaimed timber.

We’re working even harder to collaborate and educate civil engineering contractors and landscape architects on the role reclaimed materials can play in the UK’s progress towards net-zero goals.

Janine Davies-Tutt
Founder, Ashwells Reclaimed Tropical Timber

The lead-up to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in November 2021 was a busy time for Ashwells Reclaimed Timber. “We worked even harder to collaborate and educate civil engineering contractors and landscape architects on the role reclaimed materials can play in the UK’s progress towards net-zero goals.” 

“We’ve been named as Estuary Visionaries for our good green growth, and through 2022 will be working with the government-backed Estuary Envoy, Kate Willard, to help the Thames Estuary region become one of the greenest in the world.”

Janine is also proud Ashwell’s FSC certified reclaimed timber featured in four category winners at the prestigious BALI National Landscape Awards in 2020. “This included the Royal Horticultural Society ‘Back to Nature’ garden designed by architects Davies White in collaboration with the Duchess of Cambridge, featuring Keruing timber we reclaimed from Southend Pier,” she explains.

Such recognition is just one reason why women looking to launch their own business should follow their dream, believes Janine. “Find something you’re passionate about – don’t follow the money,” she says. “Not only does this mean that the hard work does not feel like work, it also means your business has a strong sense of authenticity.”

Learn more about the winners in the experimental Metaverse virtual gallery.

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