TODAY, Saw Mill Lane in Thornbury is the name given to a small and quiet estate of houses built in the 1990s by Crest Homes, but back in the late 1880s, it was quite different.

Established in 1886 as a saw mill by Rockhampton’s Edmund Cullimore, teams of horses would pull long wagons of uncut timber along Gloucester Road before turning precariously into St John Street - sometimes hitting the Royal George on the opposite corner.

The mill had various hazards, especially fire. One of the most serious of these was in 1899 when the fire burned so fiercely, workers could not reach a 25,000 gallon water tank, and the hose that had been brought to fight the blaze was too short.

Other problems included injuries to the workers - people said you didn’t ask if someone worked at the saw mill, you checked their fingers.

There were bonuses to having the business in the town. The mill brought not only work to the town but electricity too, to some homes at least, through a gas powered engine used to power the big saws and in 1927 Francis Grace, Cullimore’s son-in-law, applied to use the surplus energy to supply electricity to private homes.

The mill and its land continued to be owned by members of the Cullimore family until 1958.

Photographs and information kindly provided by Thornbury and District Museum and Thornbury Roots.

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