As the world eagerly awaits the coronation of King Charles, the British Isles are abuzz with excitement and anticipation. One of the time-honoured traditions of the British monarchy is the Royal visit, and over the years, many cities, towns and businesses have hosted members of the Royal Family.

As excitement builds for King Charles III’s Coronation on Saturday, May 6th at Westminster Abbey, BSW Group takes a walk down memory lane to reflect on Royal visits through the years, including King Charles III himself supporting on the opening of multiple BSW sites through the last 50 years.

Princess Anne visits Lochaber

BSW Fort William mill manager Oliver Stephen was invited to meet Princess Anne on her recent visit to the Lochaber Rural Complex. Princess Anne officially opened the new Corpach Marina and her whistlestop tour of the region also saw her attend Lochaber Rural Education Trust.

Having donated timber regularly to the LRET through the years, Oliver Stephen had the opportunity to talk to Princess Anne about the sawmill, BSW and the wider impact of the business on the local economy.

Prince Charles opens Newbridge

BSW Timber’s Newbridge sawmill in Wales was officially opened in 1981 by then Prince of Wales, King Charles III. The Newbridge sawmill can process lengths from 3m to 4.8m. It has an annual input of 210,000m3 of roundwood and produces 150,000m3 of sawn timber each year.

Prince Charles opens Fort William sawmill

The Newbridge site was not Prince Charles’ first foray into the BSW fold. He was in fact present for the opening of the Fort William sawmill in 1974 when it belonged to Riddochs of Rothiemay. BSW later acquired the site when its merger with Thomas Smith & Sons went through in 1988 – Smith representing the S in BSW, as it is known today!

Prince Charles opens European site in Latvia

And if that wasn’t enough for our current King, Prince Charles also travelled out to Riga in Latvia to open BSW’s only existing site on continental Europe. Launched in 2000, BSW’s Latvian sawmill is on a 35-hectare site, housing state-of-the-art machinery. It can process high grade timber lengths from 3m to 6m, and produces 220,000m3 of sawn timber each year. The Riga sawmill is one of the largest and most modern sawmills in the Baltic region and produces a range of timber products, including construction timber, fencing and decking, pallet and packaging timber, and value-added products.

Duke of Cambridge invites Sawmill manager to Scottish Cup Final

Just a few months earlier, during a visit to various locations across Scotland, Duke & Duchess of Cambridge in support of their respective charities, Prince William invited a small number of emergency responders to join him in watching the Scottish Cup Final in a rooftop bar near to Edinburgh castle.

Dave Mills, BSW Timber’s Mill Manager at the now closed Boat of Garten site was asked to attend on behalf of Scottish Mountain Rescue, as a thanks for his role in delivering and implementing a Benevolent Scheme for the organisation, which he undertook as a volunteer during the pandemic.

Dave said: “It was a huge honour and a privilege to be asked to attend the event and to meet the Duke. He was extremely interested to hear how families had adapted to the crisis and he expressed how genuinely grateful he was for everyone who played a part in helping the UK get through such a tough period.”

Prince Philip at Dalbeattie

Prince Philip’s visit to Howie’s Sawmill in Dalbeattie back in July 2010 coincided with the Queen attending Castle Douglas to visit the Stewartry. Crowds lined the streets for the Royal visit.  While her Majesty took a tour of Wallets Marts, Prince Philip met some of the BSW crew, with CEO Tony Hackney and Hamish Macleod among the team who welcomed him to Dalbeattie.

Sandy Brownlie receives CBE honour

The late Sandy Brownlie started working full time in the business in 1953, but after just two weeks was calledup for National Service. After joining the Earlston sawmill in 1956 he was appointed director in 1959. By the late 1970s he pressed ahead with investment in new equipment and transport and by July 1981 A&R Brownlie acquired Western Softwood in Wales.

Continued investment led to BSW Timber PLC being formed in July 1988, with Sandy becoming its first chairman. His audience with the Queen soon followed when he was awarded the CBE at Buckingham Palace in 1994 for his services to the timber and forestry industry. Sandy retired as chairman in 2009 but remains a part of the BSW family and in the heart of its employees.