AN amateur wood carving group who had their work displayed at Oxford’s John Lewis store last month are hoping to encourage more people to take up the hobby.

Tutor and president of Ox and Bucks branch of the British Woodcarvers Association, Brian Eastoe, is looking to help others chip and chisel their way way to their own masterpiece by offering two free weekly classes.

The group’s intricate set of carvings displaying the history of Oxfordshire over the past 1,000 were given a temporary home at the Westgate store in August – 10 years after they were first created.

The first class is held at the City of Oxford College, opposite the ice rink. The group will meet on Monday afternoons from 2pm until 4.30pm.

The second class is to be held each Thursday evening from 6.45pm until 9pm at John Mason School, Wootton Road in Abingdon.

Mr Eastoe, 83, said: “We mix business with pleasure and have an annual barbecue and a very well attended Christmas dinner, so why not just come along, have a look at what the existing members are carving, talk to them, then make up your mind whether you would like to join the Ox & Bucks Woodcarvers.

“It is a wonderful cheap hobby. A project like a copy of your family dog, a relief of your house, will cost you in the region of £10 for the wood, but weeks and weeks of pleasure as you turn that chunk of wood into a work of art.”

All tools, sharpening systems and some wood are supplied.

Mr Eastoe added: “Both ladies and gentlemen attend, almost 50/50 and at the risk of offending the gentlemen, the two best woodcarvers are ladies.”

The group created the now well-known historical wooden plaques as part of an Oxford Inspires competition in 2007, but a decade later the mahogany-framed works, which depict county landmarks including Oxford’s dreaming spires and Blenheim Palace, had toured around Oxfordshire without ever finding a fitting home.