Meet the family of chainsaw sculptors from Cheshire

The Burgess family; Michele and Tim (seated) with Andy (left) and Mike at their barn in Mobberley

The Burgess family; Michele and Tim (seated) with Andy (left) and Mike at their barn in Mobberley - Credit: Archant

A former policeman from Rostherne has carved a new career at the cutting edge. His family have been inspired to join him too

Tim's knight at Peckforton Castle

Tim's knight at Peckforton Castle - Credit: not Archant

“Sorry I missed your call, I was chainsawing an owl.” It’s an unusual start to an interview but Tim Burgess has taken a few unconventional twists and turns since he retired.

He left Greater Manchester Police in 2005 with a careerful of memories and an interest in woodwork. And after hanging up his truncheon and taking up his chisel Tim, has carved a new career and has become one of the country’s leading chainsaw sculptors.

Andy Burgess from Didsbury taking part in the Chainsaw Speed Carving competition..

Andy Burgess from Didsbury taking part in the Chainsaw Speed Carving competition.. - Credit: Archant

His wife and two sons are chips off the old block too, each with their own range of chainsaw carved creations.

Tim, who was a chief superintendant when he left the police, said: ‘I have always had an interest in woodwork and when I was in my twenties I made some rocking horses for relatives. I heard about chainsaw carving and I had a go. I made a couple of figures out of trees that had come down in the garden.

‘Then I went to the English Open at Sandringham and decided it was what I wanted to do. While I was there I spoke to the competition organiser and soon after it was moved to Tatton, which was very handy for me.’

The 57-year-old who lives in Rostherne has competed in contests held in Germany, America, and Canada and this spring he will be taking part in a competition in Denmark. His sculptures also stand in gardens in France and closer to home they can be seen in gardens and on golf courses around Cheshire.

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‘The more places I appeared, the more people wanted my things,’ Tim said. ‘I start with big saws and block out the piece of wood, work out which bits are going to be used and which aren’t, and then use progressively smaller saws. If you cut a bit off you can’t put it back on so it’s a matter of making constant readjustments.’

Visitors to shows around the county will have seen Tim demonstrating his carving with favourite pieces from his varied repertoire but there is no limit to the designs it’s possible to create with a chainsaw. ‘At the moment people are asking for sculptures of deceased dogs, but I’ve done lots of things – a statue of Baden Powell, horses’ heads, owls, lions, birds, all sorts,’ he added.

And after seeing Tim excelling in his new field his brother, Andy, took up the chainsaw, as did wife Michele, an accountant, and the couple’s sons Mike and Jonathan.

All are fully trained and create their own pieces and Michele, Andy and Mike share Tim’s studio in Mobberley, while Jonathan is based across the Pennines in Yorkshire.

Tim and Andy have worked together on pieces for the RHS and created the throne which was the centrepiece of the jubilee garden in Manchester city centre in 2012.

‘We even got to meet the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh after a dinner,’ Tim added. ‘Only six people were introduced to them and we were two of them.

‘This is radically different to my previous life but it is tremendously enjoyable and satisfying. I think people see you at work at the shows and think it looks easy but it’s like anything, if you can do it, you make it look easy. I would love to be able to play a musical instrument but it’s not as easy as it looks.

‘I aspire to be as good as some of the people around the world who are excellent, there are some unbelievably good and quick people out there. Every sculpture I do I try to make it better than the last.

‘What I really want to do is a giant spider, I’ve seen some done by other people that are 14 feet across. One of these days I’ll do that.’