Huge surge in interest for company's trees
A few decades ago, it was coal being exported from the North East to London's Battersea Power Station.
Now, some very different items are being sent to the site – one of Europe’s largest regeneration projects – by Charlie Rutherford from Heddon-on-the-Wall.
He flies out to Malaga, Spain, and will walk for hours in the olive orchards inspecting thousands of trees until he finds the right olive tree to pick. They have to be at least 300 years old with a straight trunk.
Once found, the trees, which can weigh up to 300 kilos each, are brought to the UK.
At his Replica Landscapes base in Northumberland, the roots are cut off and the trees are taken and put into a huge kiln with a diesel heater to dry.
So far, Mr Rutherford has supplied around 70 trees to Battersea to be put both inside and outside the apartment buildings that are being built.
He only got involved in this area when a friend said there was a business for sale 11 years ago, but now Replica Landscapes provides trees for the sets of popular television shows such as EastEnders and Coronation Street, as well as top-end residential properties and the hospitality industry.
“I am so pleased I made the jump in buying the company and things are really taking off,” he said.
“We are probably the only company in the country that could deliver this order for the Battersea Power Station project – it is an extraordinary order.”
Hexham MP Guy Opperman, who recently met Mr Rutherford at the site, said it was “great to see a business expanding as a result of this order, especially one from Northumberland”.