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Company History

The Company was founded in 1913 by Matthew Henry Southern. Its role then, as now, was as Timber Importers and Sawmillers, supplying the timber requirements of the Shipbuilding and Shiprepair Yards on the North East Coast and commerce generally in the area.

The Office, Timber Yard and Sawmill were established on Skinnerburn Road, Newcastle upon Tyne on a riverside site between two of the Tyne's famous bridges.

The Company continued to prosper, under the guidance of the founder, right up to the beginning of World War II. During the war business was reduced as timber was supplied only against licences issued by the Timber Control.

By 1960 a move had been planned to our present site at Jarrow. This is within the dock area of Tyne Dock which was then our main port of importation. On an initial 3.5 acre site an office, storage yard and sawmill was laid out and established to take advantage of sideloader handling of packaged timber. Since then the site has expanded to 5 acres with concrete roads and extensive storage sheds able to hold a large proportion of our stock.

In 1949 a private Limited Company was formed with the present name. By this time the management of the Company was in the hands of two of the founder's sons M.H. and D.A. Southern. In the 1950s the third generation of the family, P.H.P. and J.M. Southern joined the company.

The Companies are now combined and operate under our name from the premises at Jarrow and Berwick upon Tweed. The Directors are RJ Bruce & the founders great grandsons J.A.Southern and M.S.Lowis.

In recent years the market has changed considerably. As the shipbuilding and heavy industries have declined so customers have changed. Although the Company are very much involved in what is left of these industries some of the main outlets are now builders merchants, house builders and D.I.Y. outlets, whilst still supplying joinery manufacturers, local authorities and important industries such as the Rail Network. Indeeed the company now gets involved with projects as diverse as Douglas Fir helidecks in the Arabian Gulf and pitch pine roller coaster frameworks (pictured below at Lightwater Valley in North Yorkshire).
Specialities continue to spread further afield and in many cases to others in the Timber Trade and, on occasions, overseas.

With improved road systems the Company occupy a very good geographic position near the Tyne Tunnel, and is well placed to supply all areas, having easy access to the motorway system. To enhance the delivery service there are crane attachments on three of the four lorries. These, as with all capital equipment, are serviced and replaced regularly.

The Company have further improved the service to customers by installing Tanalith/Tanatone and Vacsol Aqua Treatment Plants. Both have been installed to comply with COSHH and Safety Regulations.

The Company are members of the Timber Trade Federation and the Timber Research and Development Association Quality Assurance Scheme for Stress Graders. They employ graders trained to BS4978 for structural timber.

The Company believe that quality counts and all systems are accredited to ISO 9001:2000.

The Company achieved FSC® and PEFC Chain of Custody in 2004 and followed that up in 2005 by achieving SFI and CSA Chain of Custody.

In 2009 the company acquired Robert Duncan Timber Products and this trades as a subsidary of MH Southern & Co Ltd from its 5 acre site in Felling, Gateshead.