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Simpson's Sawmill

Robert Ernest Stevens arrived in Chermside about 1930 and built a sawmill on land between Gympie Road and Century Street, now Buruda Street. He had a sawmill at Dayboro and discovered that bullockies were getting more money by sending their logs to Brisbane by rail to sell there.

Mick Simpson bought shares in the business in 1941. He built a house and an engineering workshop beside the mill.
At the height of production, his employees repaired all trucks and tractors. The workshop had a lathe, shaping machine, press, welders, profile cutting machines, drill stands. Mick designed the workshop and its contents and he was entirely self-taught. He also designed the gantry equipment.

Logs came from many places in Queensland and New South Wales. Mick started the process by buying a paddock of timber and then estimating the worth of the timber. He offered a price to the farmer who then got another price. They would come to an agreement and Mick then took 10-20 years to remove the timber. He had to build roads and bridges to get timber from the paddock.
Blackbutt, stringybark and blue gum timbers were processed. Local tanneries used wood shavings in their steam boilers.

The 4-acre site was sold to the Housing Commission in 1981 and the sawmill was demolished and relocated to Virginia in 1983.

Men and machinery at Simpson's Sawmill

Written by Robert Isdale for the Antique Machinery Restoration Society Gazette

Post war, every business was desperate to get production going again, and all types of equipment were needed urgently. One of the many items almost impossible to get were motor vehicles, and ex-Armed Service vehicles found a ready market as they were released. It wasn't a clear-cut thing, because they had been built under war-time emergency conditions, with Lend Lease finance, and just selling them off to the public would have upset the market of the motor vehicle manufacturers who were also trying to get their businesses up and running again. A compromise was reached whereby sales were allowed only to organizations like Councils and essential service industries. A sawmilling business came into that category and Simpson's needed heavy vehicles that could haul timber from forests to the mill.

Auctions were set up at many locations around the country and when it was announced that some GMC 6X6 trucks were scheduled for a Darwin auction, Mick and Jack Sanderson decided to be there.

It was 1946 and they went to Darwin with Cec Hornibrook in his brand new Chev utility. They had to comply with the rules for the "running-in"of new vehicles which regulated the speed of the new vehicles. And the roads to Darwin had had no maintenance during the war.

Mick and Jack were successful at the auction, buying the trucks and a small mountain of spare parts. Cec Hornibrook also bought equipment and sold his Chev ute at great profit.
Preparation for the journey was to rigid-couple the trucks in pairs with the trays fully loaded with spares and a heap of fuel.

Thirteen days later, they were in Dalby and the engine bearings of Jack's truck finally died and there was no way to fix it on the roadside. So - they just had to rigid-couple Mick's truck to the other two and start driving towards Brisbane.

As they carefully negotiated the tollbar near Toowoomba they were surprised when a motorcycle policeman stopped them and said "Hey, do you know you've got three trucks hooked up"and Mick replied, certainly hope so, there were three there when I started". After some discussion, the policeman offered to escort them the rest of the way.
Between their slow pace and city traffic, they became separated from their "special escort", but they arrived at Chermside in one piece - as it were!

Some of the vehicles used to haul and process the logs.