Looking Back; A day in the sawmill

Looking Back; A day in the sawmill
     Ron Cooke

In this pictorial, Ron Cooke, a former Taumarunui engineer and now a sprightly 84-year-old historian happily researching and publishing local King Country events from the past continues his recollections. He follows up  his previous article titled A day in the bush (NZ Logger, September 2023) with this next chapter following a similar theme . . .

Clear felling of native forests had officially ceased by 1977 because the Government had realised during the 1950s that this valuable resource was rapidly being depleted and action was necessary to preserve what remained.

In hindsight I was fortunate or, to be more accurate, unknowingly on hand, to record the dying stages of an industry whose fate had already been decided.

The date of my visit to Edhouse’s Mill was on Wednesday 22 November 1972 about 18 months before it burnt down on 1 May 1974 and, as a result, sadly ceased operations.

Above:  The native logs that arrived at Edhouse’s mill from the bush skids needed to be suitably cut in half lengthwise to comfortably fit on their breaking-down bench. Here Tuppy Woods (right) handles the two-man electric-powered chainsaw with the assistance of Len Ralph who steadily adds his special skill to the cutting process. George Oliphant, a retired timber worker of Taumarunui, easily recognised the manufacturer of this unusual saw and described it as a Danarm, being similar to an “extremely heavy beast” he used to operate at the neighbouring Hutt Timber & Hardware of Manunui with Max Adler. “It was impossible to carry on your own but it was very powerful with a heavy-duty chain with big links.” George went on to explain that lubricating oil was held in a small tank built into the tail end handle. The chain also ran over a nose sprocket which improved efficiency and wear. Having availability of three-phase electric power, along with an extension lead, was ideal for working on the skids in relative silence and well before the greenhouse effect was even heard of. 

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