With its towering pine trees, acres of gorse and weathered sandy ridges typical of the Brecks you might think Thetford Forest and its surroundings are ancient.

But the forest itself is much younger than first impressions might suggest.

In fact, it was planted after the First World War to provide the country with a strategic timber reserve.

During the conflict Britain struggled to meet wartime demand for timber with half the country's productive trees felled between 1914-1916.

On September 1, 1919 the Forestry Act established the Forestry Commission, now known as Forestry England, to develop new forests, produce timber and promote forestry.

In the early 1920s it began purchasing land and planting the trees that would form Thetford Forest.

And there were many willing hands ready to help.

The depression of the 1920s meant unemployment was high and people were suffering.

The Forestry Commission hired people to clear the land and plant trees - with workers enjoying the added bonus of a tied cottage and allotment coming with the jobs.

By the 1940s, there was a central processing plant. Post-war mechanisation and chainsaws allowed timber to be felled and processed on an industrial scale, crucial to rebuilding efforts after the ravages of the Second World War.

Please enjoy these old photos of Thetford Forest from our archive.

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