Whitstable Woodgrain

Whitstable Woodgrain 1 – 9: Rust-stained woodgrain in old railway sleepers recycled as fencing at Whitstable Harbour, Kent, England.

Information boards in the harbour area at Whitstable say that in the late 1820’s a company was set up to build a railway line linking Canterbury and Whitstable and to construct a new harbour there. The railway opened in 1830 and was the first to carry passengers in trains drawn by steam power. At that time, on the hilly sections of the route, the trains were pulled on ropes reeled in by stationary steam-driven winding machines. Stephenson’s Invicta locomotive hauled trains along the flatter section of the line near Whitstable. Because of its seaside connections the railway was popularly known as the Crab and Winkle Line. The harbour was built two years later in 1832.

Eventually trade declined in the harbour and the railway closed in 1952. It is interesting to speculate whether the old timbers shown in these photographs with all their wear, rust stains, and drilled holes are the actual wooden sleepers from that old Crab and Winkle Line.

Ancient Wood in Peat

Close-up of the intricate pattern of woodgrain in ancient wood preserved by peat.

Some of the ancient wood that has long been buried in peat and clay deposited after the last ice age has wonderful textures and woodgrain patterns. Whole recumbent tree trunks have been emerging from the peat as a result of recent beach erosion at Whiteford on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. This wood is not fossilised but is preserved in its original state by the anaerobic conditions in which it was buried – in the same way that the bodies of the so-called Bog People were preserved.

Weathered Harbourside Timbers 1

Cross-sectional views of weathered wooden posts on the harbourside, showing remnants of green paint that highlight the wood texture, and also with patterns of radial and concentric splits appearing along the wood grain as the wood dries out and begins to rot.

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Driftwoodgrain Patterns

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (1) - Natural patterns in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon coast beach. The small black dots are lichen.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (12) - Driftwood on an Oregon beach with interesting texture and natural patterns of whorls and grooves. These wonderful textures, swirls, whorls, and grooves – sometimes dotted or patched with black or white – are natural abstract patterns of woodgrain (growth layers) decorated with encrusting lichen – photographed on a single large heavily-weathered and etched driftwood tree trunk washed up on a basalt-covered beach of the Oregon coast.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (2) - Natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (3) - Natural patterns in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach - with encrusting black and white lichen.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (4) - Natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (5) - Natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood, with patches of black and white lichen encrustation, washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (6) - Natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (7) - Wood texture - natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (8) - Wood texture - natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (9) - Wood texture - natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (10) - Wood texture - natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (11) - Large tree trunk driftwood washed up on a basalt covered beach in Oregon.

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Spalted driftwood from Lyme Regis

Driftwood patterns: Spalting pattern on driftwood from Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (1) 

You get massive tree trunks washed up at Monmouth Beach, Lyme Regis, Dorset. I discovered these patterns on the waterlogged timber of just such a huge piece of driftwood. The prolonged immersion in seawater had waterlogged the wood and the natural colours were enhanced by the wetness, The bark was mostly peeled away. The texture of the underlying wood was smooth. The combination of pores, grain, and black lines caused by the spalting fungal infection, made the trunk and branches look like weirdly stiffened limbs covered with abstract tatoos.

Natural botanical abstract patterns: Spalting pattern on driftwood from Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (2)

Spalted driftwood: Spalting pattern on driftwood from Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (3)

Patterns in nature: Spalting pattern on driftwood from Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (4) 

Revision of a post first published 11 October 2009

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Woodgrain with lichen

Woodgrain with lichens: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (1)

Whether it’s on cut timber, wooden posts, fences, or driftwood that has washed ashore, I always look at the patterns, colours and textures in the exposed woodgrain. These natural designs, showing growth rings and other internal tree structures, are often accentuated by etching and weathering of the elements; and enhanced by the colonisation and colouration of different types of  lichens. I particularly like the combination of woodgrain textures with the subtle and delicate grey-green hues of the encrusting lichens on the fence posts illustrated here.

Pattern and texture in woodgrain: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (2)

Botanical abstract pattern: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (3)

Natural abstract patterns: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (4)

Lichens on woodgrain: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (5)

Woodgrain with lichens: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (6)

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011

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Driftwood with holes made by Gribbles & Shipworms

Driftwood with infestation damage: Small piece of water-logged driftwood with holes made by Gribbles and Shipworms from the strandine at Rhossili Bay, Gower, South Wales (1) 

The photographs in this post show a small piece of water-logged driftwood about 30 cm long and riddled with holes and tunnels caused by two different types of wood-boring sea creatures. The larger borings are about 1 cm in diameter and many are lined with a smooth calcareous material that has become stained through burial in the beach sediments. These larger borings may be familiar to beachcombers as being made by Shipworms, Teredo navalis Linnaeus. I have talked about these worms – which are not really worms but bivalved molluscs – elsewhere in the blog.

Less familiar, are the much smaller holes and burrows in this piece of soft wood. These have been made by Gribbles, Limnoria lignorum (Rathke). Gribbles are very small marine isopod crustaceans. Crustacea is the major grouping  that includes the crabs, prawns, and sandhopper types of animal. Isopods are a bit like the terrestrial woodlice that you see in gardens – they have an ‘armoured’ body with lots of limbs and joints; and their body is flattened from top to bottom – compared with amphipods such as sandhoppers in which the body is flattened from side to side. Gribbles are very small and their length rarely exceeds 3.5mm.

Shipworms can burrow into hard wood but Gribbles prefer wet, cool and soft wood, like the bases of exposed pilings on piers and jetties. The pictures here show the infestation damage caused by both Gribbles and Shipworms that leads to the destruction and disintegration of the timber.

Gribble holes in driftwood: Detail of small holes and burrows made by marine isopod crustaceans called Gribbles, Limnoria lignorum (Rathke), in a piece of driftwood from the strandline at Rhossili Bay, Gower, South Wales (2) 

Driftwood with infestation damage: Close-up of hole and burrow infestation damage made by marine isopod crustaceans called Gribbles, Limnoria lignorum (Rathke), in a piece of driftwood from the strandline at Rhossili Bay, Gower, South Wales (3) 

Damage by Limnoria lignorum (Rathke): Damage caused by marine isopod crustaceans called Gribbles, Limnoria lignorum (Rathke), and Shipworm molluscs Teredo navalis Linnaeus, in a piece of driftwood from the strandline on Gower, South Wales (4) 

Comparison of Shipworm and Gribble damage: Detail of infestation damage in driftwood - comparing the generally distributed small burrows, caused by Gribbles, with much larger tunnels bored by Shipworm, from Rhossili, Gower, South Wales (5) 

Driftwood on the beach: Small piece of driftwood with holes made by Gribbles and Shipworms in situ as found on the sandy strandline at Rhossili, Gower, South Wales (6)

Driftwood damaged by sea creatures: Detail of infestation damage from wood-boring sea creatures: small tunnels by Gribbles and large tunnels and perforations by Shipworms. Driftwood from Rhossili, Gower, South Wales (7) 

 Revision of a post first published 29 May 2010

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011

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Wood grain patterns on ship wreck timbers (2)

Some more pictures of the decaying ancient timbers of the shipwreck that appears and disappears on a sandy Gower seashore.

These pictures were originally posted on 28th February 2010 and are republished now because the ship’s timbers on which the wood textures were photographed have made a re-appearance after years of burial – and are the subject of a new post dated 16th May 2014.

 

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