Obituary – David Woodbridge

24 August 2020

David Woodbridge passed away on August 6, aged 84.

Mr Woodbridge spent all his adult life working in the timber trade and played a key role in the provision of training and education for the trade. It was his vocation. He was a committed supporter of the Institute of Wood Science (IWSc) and Wood Technology Society (WTS), and a passionate educator of all things ‘wood’.

His association with the IWSc began in 1962 with evening class studies leading ultimately to a long and influential relationship with the IWSc that continued following the affiliation with IOM3, with him serving as a board member of the WTS for several years. He was appointed to the IWSc Council in the early 1980s, becoming actively involved in the membership and education sub-committees. He later took up the role of CPD officer.

From 1993 to 2000 Mr Woodbridge was editor of the world-renowned Journal of the Institute of Wood Science (JIWSc). He was also instrumental in editing later issues of the IWSc newsletter and launched the successor publication WOODfocus, which he edited – also contributing many articles – for seven years from 1999 to 2006. In 2000 he was additionally appointed director of the IWSc. This was a three-year project, though he did return to that role on a temporary basis in 2006.

Mr Woodbridge was also key in updating many of the IWSc course modules, which form the basis of much of today’s wood training. He was made a Fellow of the IWSc in 1986, and in 2012 he was awarded the prestigious IOM3 Outstanding Contribution Award. He retired from the WTS Board in 2014, although his interest in the society and contributions to its activities continued up to his death.

Mr Woodbridge’s early years were as a trainee in London and Sweden, followed by working in the shipping/import departments of Thomas Simpson timber agency and then with a timber importer. During this time his studies – the IWSc Certificate and Associate courses – at evening classes at City of London College, led to him being appointed an assistant lecturer (evening classes) to deliver wood science courses at the college, especially helping in the practical work on timber identification for the IWSc courses.

He then formed a timber frame manufacturing company in Scotland. In 1975 he joined TRADA, first as senior training officer and later manager of the training department, where he was key in the provision of visual stress grading courses and other educational projects such as courses in wood structure, softwoods, hardwoods and panel products.

In 1991 Mr Woodbridge and a colleague established Timber Tectonics Education Services to provide timber product knowledge courses, and tutoring for the IWSc courses. For a number of years he was also a visiting lecturer at The Bartlett School of Architecture in London. He always had a good sense of fun and introduced many interesting and novel ways of teaching timber grading and other wood-based subjects during his time at both TRADA and Timber Tectonics.

Mr Woodbridge had a very active life outside of the timber trade. Music was a special passion and in later life he studied music and art history at the Open University, where he gained a BA (Hons) First Class and a MA (Music). He was a highly proficient cellist.