In 1948, Archie, a native Scotsman whose pre-war occupation had been a forestry lecturer at Aberdeen University, was thwarted in his second career choice – Forest Consultant, as he was unable to find suppliers of the tree seedlings he was advising clients to plant. This gap in the market was soon filled by Archie and so Tilhill the nursery was born.
Originally established at Tilhill House, Tilford, Surrey, the company quickly grew and land was purchased at Tankersford Common. In 1958 Archie bought Greenhills, also at Tilford, along with 140 acres of land – albeit land that had been used as a test range for WWII bombs!
Early employees spent many days clearing spent and live munitions from the site – a novel if somewhat unconventional way of cultivating the seed beds.
Following fast expansion, the company built on its success and in the early 1960’s developed its Scottish interest. Initially based at Old Sauchie in Stirling, as the private forestry sector grew, the company opened additional offices north of the border.
After the nursery, then forestry. The natural progression was to extend the company’s technical skills and embrace the landscape industry.
In 1981, Archie retired, selling the company to the Rolls Royce Pension Fund. After further strong growth, particularly in the landscaping sector, Booker Plc purchased the company in 1984.
Still known as Tilhill and under the control of Booker, the company was merged in 1991 with the forestry interest of a group called EFG. The resulting company became Tilhill Economic Forestry.
Spotting the opportunity to develop the supply chain supporting their paper production plant on Deeside, UPM-Kymmene, the Finnish based global forest products company, purchased Tilhill Economic Forestry through Shotton Paper Plc in 1996, and the company name reverted to Tilhill.
Between 2005 and September 2015, the company has used the name UPM Tilhill, in recognition of its links with UPM-Kymmene, its global parent company.
In September 2015, UPM Tilhill was purchased by BSW Timber the largest sawmilling company in Great Britain whose foundations go back to 1848. Upon completion of the purchase, UPM Tilhill became known as Tilhill Forestry, now Tilhill.