Friday, March 30, 2012

Grandchester Sawmill

What's that you say? A steam-powered sawmill that still operates? Not only that, but it is totally powered by its own sawdust?

Yes Virginia, this is actually true - unlike the story I told you about Santa Claus. I have a photograph that proves it. Here it is. Click it to see a larger version.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

The mill is situated in Grandchester, the little town that was on the end of Queensland's first rail line. The steam-powered sawmill even has its own web site and if that statement doesn't leap from the nineteenth century straight into the twenty-first, I don't know my own name.

The sawmill was first opened by Roley Gillam during WWII - then it supplied timber to the nearby Rosewood coal mine and firewood to Queensland Railways. After WWII there was strong demand for cut timber to supply the housing boom. Pictured below in 1945 is the 8 horsepower Robey portable steam engine that first powered the mill. 
(Photo: Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich, Ipswich City Council)

In 1962 a Marshall engine was purchased and installed, and it still powers the mill today. It already had more than a few hours use before it arrived at Grandchester. The mill's history page indicates that the engine had been in service at NestlĂ© at Toogoolawah, the Lowood Butter Factory, and also at a sawmill in Gatton before being purchased by the Grandchester Sawmill. Here is a photograph of it at the mill in 1972. 
(Photo: Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich, Ipswich City Council)

The steam that drives the engine comes from the boiler of a retired railway engine that was built by Walkers of Maryborough in 1966. It can be seen on the LHS of the colour photograph at the top of this post. Its QR number 922 is painted on the headlight. There is also a plate with the name "Old Reliable" attached. 

So far that has proven to be true!

Click here for a Google Map.



  1. You are right all looks very nineteenth century, but the dates you mention in the post are the 1960's. Just shows you the 1960's in some parts are a lot different from what we see in Mad Men and the like.
    I would also add it proves a theory of mine that a lot of so called antique items are not as old as they look or the antique dealer says they are. This commentor not included of course.

  2. Sorry for the confusion - I was trying to draw a link from steam power in the early nineteenth century to the internet in the early twenty-first century.

    Probably a leap too far on my part!

    I have always liked the sign I saw outside one antique dealer in Northern NSW that said "Antiques made daily" :-)


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