Home' Greymouth Star : June 3rd 2017 Contents Saturday Affternoon
Saturday, June 3, 2017 - 7
6 - Saturday, June 3, 2017
Gladstone exists solely because of Ogilvies sawmill. Half a century after the mill closed, the local
domain board has erected nine historic panels to showcase the colourful sawmilling history of the area.
They released some of the best to the Greymouth Star.
William Thomas Ogilvie snr
established Olgilvie and Company at
Kahikatea — later renamed Gladstone
— in 1910, after the earlier Butler’s
mill had been hit by fire.
Most of the homes in the old
settlement were company-owned, and
were later sold to the families who
The first mill burned down in January
1930 and was rebuilt.
“A great reflection in the sky about
seven miles south of Greymouth about
11 o’clock tonight betokened a fire at
Ogilvie’s Gladstone sawmill, one of the
largest on the West Coast, where fully
one and a half million feet of timber
was stacked, in the course of being
dried for the Christchurch market,”The
“By 11.15 o’clock, the mill was
completely destroyed and the timber
stacks were burning furiously. As there
are practically no means of firefighting,
it remains uncertain what amount of
timber will be lost, but the reflection
died down before midnight. The mill
was one of the best equipped in the
Coasters had a ‘can do’ attitude
in those days, so when they were
confronted by a huge ravine in the bush
behind Gladstone the mill workers
fashioned part of an old gold dredge
and built a viaduct.
When returning one day in the bush
workers’ railcar that plied the viaduct,
the gang was playing cards on the floor
and left a weight on the accelerator. It
failed to take the bend as it descended
into New River, but no one was injured.
Mill shavings were blown by a flume
to the hill behind the sawmill and then
lit from time to time.
By the 1940s the logging forests were
becoming more distant from the mill.
They worked through the northern side
of the New River valley, with earlier
mills at Gladstone and Rutherglen, and
In time, the Forest Service asked that
areas be worked by road, not tram, to
reach the newer radiata plantations.
Fletchers arrived in the mid-1960s
and established a veneer plant just a
stone’s throw away from Ogilvies mill.
In the late 1960s the decision was made
to close the sawmill, which then was
just four months away from trading
Bush workers’ railcars on the bridge between Gladstone and Marsden in the late 1950s or early 1960s. One car carried staff, the other
A bush workers’ railcar at Gladstone in the 1940s. This was built in the company’s own workshops. It is parked outside the mill office,
The transition from rail to road. The Opossum locomotive is on the left, flanked by an Austin truck.
PICTURES: Courtesy Ogilvie Domain Board and the Ogilvie family
Loading at the spar in the upper New River, 1960s, with a Commer truck as someone loads rimu on the back.
Mill number two, completed in 1943. The logs in the foreground, right, came from an inlet via tram or truck. The breading down benches and breast bench were nearby.
Gladstone in 1928, before the domain, hall or even Ogilvie Road was built. A bridge crosses over Saltwater Creek, leading to the original football grounds used by Gladstone, Paroa and Camerons teams. Erosion has claimed much of the land. The single men’s huts sit in a neat row, at right-angles
This scaled down weekend cottage, on the back of a de Dion truck, was built to take part in a street parade in Greymouth in 1928, and is apparently still standing
in Blaketown, in Blake Street. The original staff from Ogilvies are also pictured.
The Marsden viaduct. It was built from dredge booms and brought in by Ogilvie’s on the back of a tram,
and pushed across the ravine. The gully is at least 20m deep.
The Price locomotive was operated by Ogilvies from 1943 into the 1960s. It is now on display at Steam Scene, McLean Island,
A winch is set up on the back of a transporter in the New River area.
Jack Hodgson filleting timber at Ogilvies Mill, at Gladstone. This was how the timber was left to dry.
Taking a break: from clockwise left Jack Harding, John Hibbs, George Mason, Jim Rhodes, Zane Ward, George Dawson and Peter Taylor.
W T Ogilvie snr, who established Ogilvie and
Company at Kahikatea (now Gladstone) in 1910.
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