Waterbodies & Maritime => Chatham Dockyard => Topic started by: kyn on May 03, 2008, 19:24:40

Title: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on May 03, 2008, 19:24:40
Merc and I had a visit here today, we went for a nose around the sawmill and gained access (with permission) to the canal that used to join the sawmill and the mast ponds.  Info:

Brunel Sawmill was built in 1814 to replace the slow process of workers sawing wood, the job was repetitive and back breaking so Marc Brunel designed a steam powered sawing machine.  The sawmill was connected to the south mast pond by an underground canal, this canal was adapted during the war into an air raid shelter and a command and control bunker in case of a nuclear war.  The canal tunnel now consists of two sunken rooms and one upper room in the bunker end and six sections of tunnel separated by blast walls in the shelter end.  There were three entrances into the air raid shelters and two into the bunker plus an emergency escape.

Pics:

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_0007Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_0005Small.jpg)

Air raid shelter end

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_9976Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_9977Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_9980Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_9982Small.jpg)

Bunker end

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_9984Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_9986Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_0002Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_9988Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_99891Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_9991Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_9994Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_9993Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/IMG_9997Small.jpg)
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: merc on November 24, 2011, 13:51:06
October 14, 1819

The attention of the observer is immediatly engaged by the Sawmill and timber establishment, which have been executed under the directions of Mr Marc Brunel, a gentleman who is well known to the scientific world, and whose ingenuity  here is particularly remarkable: and whose plans, it is hoped, will ultimately be carried out to their full extent. On the first view of the saw-mill, it appears to have been badly placed, as it stands upon a steep slope, and consequently appears to increase the difficulty to a common observer in raising huge blocks of timber to their requisite height.

Being led through a subterraneous canal, i entered a large reservoir, where i saw a tree of great magnitude emerging from the water, and lifted up about 50 feet perpendicularly in little more 30 seconds. A movable crane then took hold of it, which was successively followed, in like manner, by other timber. Then, having ascended to the margin of the reservoir, i had a full view of the timber-ground, where the crane had deposited its load upon an extensive stack, and was returning with great speed. Here it was perceived why the engineer had chosen such an elevated spot for the mill, for by so doing he gained the advantage to the travelling crane of an easy descent upon a railway of about 1,000 feet. I was next shown the manner in which the elevator is controlled in it's tremendous action.

The interior of the saw-mill exhibits machinery of another kind, equally ingenious. A steam-engine of 30 horse power is adequate to the whole of the mechanical service of the establishment. Inside the mill were eight saw frames, that each carried 36 saws, so producing 1260ft of sawing per minute. While it would be impossible to maintain a rate throughout the day, the potential was so great, that the needs of the dockyard could be met by this one unit.

From The Times.


Marc Brunel's Sawmill and machinery revolutionised the handling and sawing of timber at the yard. It also saved the Admiralty huge amounts of money.
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 24, 2011, 14:46:40
A few photos of this lovely building:

(http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg182/cliveinkent/Chatham%20Dockyard%2030-05-2011/DSC03574BrunelsSawMill.jpg)

(http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg182/cliveinkent/Chatham%20Dockyard%2030-05-2011/DSC03582BrunelsSawMill.jpg)

(http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg182/cliveinkent/Chatham%20Dockyard%2030-05-2011/DSC03573BrunelsSawMill.jpg)

(http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg182/cliveinkent/Chatham%20Dockyard%2030-05-2011/DSC03570BrunelsSawMill.jpg)

cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 24, 2011, 14:51:07
October 14, 1819

Being led through a subterraneous canal,

I believe this underground canal connected to the South Mast Pond which is now the public car park for the Historic Dockyard.

cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Sentinel S4 on November 24, 2011, 18:17:35
Is there any of the Brunel/Maudsley machinery left in the building? S4.
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 24, 2011, 19:28:51
Looks like only some of the sawframes and the tunnel remain inside:

http://www.kent.gov.uk/ExploringKentsPast/SingleResult.aspx?uid=MKE30276

cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Sentinel S4 on November 24, 2011, 20:02:50
Thanks Cliveh. It would be good to see these items restored and on show. Historically they are very important as these were the first machines made for mass production, blocks and sheaves for the navy. I think they did Portsmouth first and Chatham second and set the store for IK Brunel in later life. S4.
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 25, 2011, 12:40:52
The below is from Phillip Macdougall’s fine book ‘Chatham Dockyard, 1815-1865: the industrial transformation’

“The revolution in steam was already forging ahead in 1815, with construction underway of Marc Brunel’s mechanically powered wood mills. The building work was mostly undertaken by the yard’s workforce. Upon completion, the mills transformed the process of timber plank manufacture, able to process quantities from a variety of types of timber at considerable speed both for Chatham and other yards. As a result only a small number of sawyers were retained, these either on a reduced rate of pay, undertaking work in connection with the operation of the mill or carrying out tasks too complex for the saws of the wood mill. Although designed by Marc Brunel, the man responsible for overseeing the completion of the mill was a Mr Ellicombe, upon whom Brunel placed much trust. However, on the appointment of a Master Sawyer of the mills, Ellicombe was considered by the Commissioners at the Navy Board as surplus to requirements. The totality of the finished design, encompassing not only eight sets of circular powered saws but also a canal for the easy movement of newly arrived timber and an overhead rail system which directly connected the mill to an area for the storage of planks, attracted visiting dignitaries and much publicised praise. Not surprisingly, it was subject to inspection by the Commissioners of the Navy Board shortly after it’s completion.

Having been designed to meet the demands of the war-time Navy, the wood mills were soon producing more timber than required leading to part of the building being considered for conversion to storage.

The upper floor accommodated a duplicate set of the block-making machines – Brunel’s other contribution to Britain’s naval dockyards. The wood mill and it’s machinery were put to a multiplicity of uses. Indeed, the steam engine was used to power treenail mooting machinery [any ideas?????]  and for pumping water both for the dockyard and nearby Royal Marine Barracks and subsequently the new Melville Hospital that was built opposite the Main Gate. In 1834, it was also proposed that the same engine be used for powering lathes. Despite the early acclaim, William Scamp in 1857 chose to criticise both the location and construction of the mill.”

cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: conan on November 25, 2011, 13:31:16
Treenail mooting description here

http://sites.google.com/site/shipwrightsfaq/smf-researchnotes/smf-RN-Trunnels



Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 25, 2011, 14:39:03
Thanks conan!  :)

cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 25, 2011, 19:20:14
Navy Board to Commissioner Barlow: block making machinery

[NMM, CHA/F/27]

20 December 1815

Mr. Brunel having been employed to make a duplicate set of machinery in the block mill at Portsmouth, to be applied in the event of any accident happening to the machinery at present in use. He having recommended that the machines so provided may be deposited in the room immedietly over the boilers of the steam engine over the sawmill in Chatham yard, which room is entirely proof against fire and particularly eligible on account of its temperature, for the reception and preservation of iron work liable to rust. We desire, as the place pointed out appears from the heat to be fit for the deposit of iron particles, and is represented as inapplicable for a working shop or office, that you will cause these block machines to be deposited there; if you see no objection.

(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')

cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 25, 2011, 20:29:18
Commissioner Barlow to Navy Board: block-making machinery

[TNA, ADM106/1815]

29 December 1815

In reply to your Letter of yesterday's date desiring that a duplicate set of block machinery, which Mr Brunel has been employed to make for the block mill at Portsmouth, be deposited in the room immediately over the boilers of the steam engine for the sawmill in this yard, if I see no objection thereto.

I beg to acquaint you that I am not aware of any objection to the said machinery being so deposited, and I will give directions accordingly and for the same being taken care of.

(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Sentinel S4 on November 25, 2011, 21:06:21
This is awesome. This covers a very neglected man of the Industrial Revolution, Marc Brunel. Being a French National he was not allowed into the Dockyards and therefore had to train up men to do the work unsupervised. It was this work that paid for the young Isambard to be educated to the degree that developed the later genius. After the Dark Satanic Mills from Oop Norf (sorry up North) this was the second (I include both Portsmouth and Chatham in this) instance of mass production in the UK.

How much is left of the original machinery?

S4.
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 26, 2011, 12:29:53
How much is left of the original machinery?

S4.

I don't think there can be much if anything left in the mill S4. Bilgerat is probably the guy to know.

cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 26, 2011, 16:24:50
Order-in-Council: appointment of Sawmill Master

[TNA, PC2/197]

30 January 1816

The waterworks connected to the steam engine and sawmill recently erected in Chatham yard being now in a complete state fit to be applied in case of fire to the purpose of forcing water through various parts of the yard; and those works: having on account of their connection with the machinery comprising the sawmill, certain arrangements and combinations adapted to the object as well as the situation, the Principal Officers and Commissioners of the Navy have recommended that a Master of the Mill should be appointed to have the superintendence and management of the machinery and other works connected with it, including all the waterworks and pipes about the yard, and that he should be allowed a salary of two hundred and fifty pounds per annum, being the same salary as is allowed to most of the master workmen in His Majesty's Yards.

And as we agree in opinion with them of the expedience in this appointment, we beg leave with all humility to propose to your Royal Highness that a Master of the saw mill for the purposes before stated, may be appointed accordingly with an established salary of two hundred and fifty pounds per annum.

His Royal Highness the Prince Regent having taken the said memorial into consideration was pleased, in the name of His Majesty, and by and with the advice of His Majesty's Privy Council, to approve what is therein proposed, and to order, as it is hereby ordered to, that a said Master of the Sawmill for the purpose stated in the said memorial be appointed accordingly with an established salary of two hundred and fifty pounds per annum. And the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty are to give the necessary directions herein accordingly.

(Macdougall  'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')



cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 26, 2011, 16:40:57
Royal Visit

[Kentish Gazette]

12 March 1816

On Saturday morning about 10 o'clock the Archduke, attended by Prince Esterhazy, the American Ambassador, visited Chatham Dockyard, and were received, uder a salute from the cannon on the lines, by Commissioner Sir Robert Barlow, who was in readiness to attend and conduct them through the yard. Every part worthy of notice was pointed out to them, particularly the sawmill, which they inspected very attentively for a considerable time; the Archduke John being very inquisitive, and noted in writing many observations. .....

(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')



cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Leofwine on November 26, 2011, 16:47:00
How much is left of the original machinery?

There was a carpenters firm in there in the late 1990s and early 2000s, not sure if they are  still there or not. I had a 17th century gun carriage made by them, but as far as I can remember pretty well all the machinery was modern electric stuff (Startrite, etc).
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 26, 2011, 16:47:13
Navy Board to Commissioner Barlow: dismissal of sawmill superintendent

[NMM, CHA/F/29]


23 April 1816

We have to desire that you will inform us whether in your opinion the attendance of Mr. Elliscombe to superintend the works connected with the saw mills at Chatham may not now be dispensed with in consequence of the forward state of those works particularly as we conceive that Mr. Bacon, the Master of the saw mills must now be fully competent to undertake that superintendence himself.


(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh

Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 26, 2011, 16:57:26
Navy Board to Commissioner Barlow: dismissal of sawmill superintendent

[NMM, CHA/F/29]


9 May 1816

We have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated the 2nd instant in which you state that you are not aware of the necessity for the further attendance of Mr. Elliscombe to superintend the works connected with the sawmills, and we desire that you will signify to Mr. Elliscombe that his services are no longer required at Chatham.


(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 29, 2011, 21:18:47
Marc Brunel to Navy Board: objection to dismissal


[NMM CHA/F/29]

23 May 1816

In reference to your communication of the 9th inst. which I received on my return from the continent, informing me that you have now desired Commissioner Sir Robert Barlow to signify to Mr Ellicombe, that his services were no longer required at Chatham to superintend the works connected with the sawmill. I beg to observe that I cannot but express my surprise at the nature of the communication, no less than at the manner [in which] it is conveyed.

Had I been asked whether his services were required for superintending the work already connected with the sawmill, or were necessary to it, I should have not hesitated on the answer I should have had to return. But when I took over what Mr. Ellicombe has had to do, and what he has to do, for establishing the carriage now preparing and also for disposing the means and connecting the powers whereby the timber is to be conveyed to and fro and spread over the ground; I should easily have accounted how far the abilities and services of that gentleman were necessary for the establishment, had I been honoured from you, with a previous application such as my situation and the confidence I have hitherto be honoured with, had given me a right to expect at the hands on the honourable Navy Board.

If for so short a period as 2 or 3 weeks, Mr. Ellicombe’s exertions and labours have not been so actively and usefully employed as they were before, it is because others have not been so expeditious in the executions of the works they had to perform, as I had expected. The work I allude to, namely that which is intended to convey the power through the whole course of the railway is ready to be forwarded to Chatham.

If at this period, I am deprived of the services of Mr. Ellicombe to effect that which I have imparted to him during the gradual progress of that undertaking, or in the course of correspondence that has subsisted between both him and myself, I shall be under the necessity of making more frequent journeys to and from Chatham, a circumstance attended with great inconvenience to me and of greater expense to the public than Mr. Ellicombe’s charges could possibly have been.

Mr. Ellicombe’s services have not been continued by me, solely for superintending the sawmill; but for directing the execution of the work in general, and for giving them the effect they should arrive at, before they can be left to the management of others – The manner he has already acquitted himself of the trust placed in him, justifies, in a vert satisfactory way, the choice I have made. No part of the work evinces greater proof of his abilities and judgement than the manner in which the timber lifting apparatus has been put up and put into action.

What remains to be fixed cannot be combined with the existing works, nor connected as it should be, unless I have the entire management of the concern as I have hitherto had, and unless I have the choice of the instruments I think necessary to my purpose.

Mr. Ellicombe being from his superior education – liberal connections, and from his uncommon acquirements fitted, in every respect, I trust that your Honourable Board has no personal objection to him, [and that] he will be allowed to continue where he is, in the character of my confidential agent, in superintending my Chatham engagements, until I have completed it, waiting for your Honourable Board’s directions and instructions.


(Macdougall ‘Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865)


cliveh



Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 29, 2011, 21:25:36
Navy Board to Commissioner Barlow: retention of sawmills superintendent

[NMM, CHA/F/29]

30 May 1816

In consequence of your letter of the 24th inst. we have consented to Mr. Ellicombe remaining a further time in the superintendence of the works of the sawmill at your yard, but we have desired Mr. Brunel to let us know how much longer it is likely that Mr. Ellicombe's attendence there will be absolutely necessary, and we have to request that you will satisfy yourself and make us acquainted with the necessity that exists for continuing his services at the public expense, under the directions of Mr. Brunel.

(Macdougall  'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh

Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: helcion on November 29, 2011, 22:40:58
Good for Brunel !         Looks like the Human Resources Department was alive & well & cutting costs back as early as 1816.

Cheers

Helcion
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Sentinel S4 on November 29, 2011, 23:00:35
As I have said, due to Marc being a French National (who had we just had a bit of a 'do' with in 1815?), he was not allowed into HM Dockyard(s). I think Ellicombe must have been Brunel's agent on site as Marc seems to think very highly of him. S4.
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 30, 2011, 11:25:44
Description of the Sawmill

[Wildash, The History and Antiquities of Rochester, p.73]

1817

At the northeast extremity of the yard some new works have lately been constructed, commonly called the sawmills, projected and executed by that modest and persevering mechanic, Mr. Brunel, who has effected as much for the mechanic arts as any man of his time. These sawmills, as the name imports, are employed in converting the fir timber used in the service of the yard into planks or boards; and are erected on an eminence about 35 feet above the level of the lowest part of the yard. To the ground on the north side of the mill; which is appropriated to the stowage of timber, balks are floated from the river by means of a canal which runs open about 250 feet: this canal on entering the rising ground becomes a tunnel in length about 300 feet, and empties itself into an elliptical basin the length of which is 90 feet, the breadth 72 feet, and the depth 44 feet. The operation of raising the timber from this basin is worthy of observation; and the steady, though quick motion with which it ascends is truly astonishing. We have witnessed a balk of 60 feet long, and 16 inches square, raised to the top of the standard 60 feet in the space of 60 seconds! The sawmill is constructed on a very extensive scale; and the mechanism of it may be reduced to three principal things: the first, that is the saw drawn up and down as long as is necessary, by a motion communicated to the wheel by steam; the second, that the timber to be cut into boards is advanced by a uniform motion to receive the strokes of the saw: for here the wood is to meet the saw, and not the saw to follow the wood, therefore the motion of the wood and that of the saw immediately depends the one on the other; the third, that where the saw has cut through the whole length of the piece, the whole machine stops of itself, and remains immovable: lest having no obstacle to surmount, the moving power should turn the wheel with too great velocity, and break some part of the machine.


(Macdougall ‘Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865’)


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 30, 2011, 19:12:40
Marc Brunel to Admiralty: timber for other yards

[TNA, ADM106/2272]

15 January 1817

With respect to the sawmills we beg leave to state that it is not only employed in cutting such articles for that yard which a saw mill can be applied but also for other yards.

(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 30, 2011, 19:17:14
Navy Board to Commissioner Barlow: sawmill expenses

[NMM, CHA/F/30]

17 February 1817

Expense of building the engine with a canal, tunnel &c by the people of the yard:

Cost of Materials used     £27,551
Cost of workmen            £13,764

Total                             £41,315


(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 01, 2011, 19:06:20
Marc Brunel to Navy Board: objection to use of mill for storage

[NMM, CHA/F/30]

30 March 1817

It will perhaps be said that the spare area is as well calculated as any other part of the yard for the stowage of other material; but viewing it with all the advatages that are coupled with its present disposition, I would consider it would be as great a waste of its present means, as any part of the mill itself, if it was converted into a store.


(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 01, 2011, 19:10:54
Admiralty to Commissioner Barlow: treenail mooting machinery

[NMM, CHA/E/126]

25 June 1817

We have received your letter of 21st inst. informing us that Mr. Beale has completed his treenail machinery attached to the sawmill in your yard. We direct you to prepare a scheme of task for mooting treenails by the machinery in question and submit the same for your approval.


(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 02, 2011, 18:39:35
Minutes of Navy Board committee of Visitation: sawmill

[TNA, ADM106/3233]

30 September 1819

The committee viewed the sawmills and machinery appertaining thereto for stacking timber &c. They were much satisfied with works going on there, the same being extremely well executed, seven of the sawing machines were at work and the whole eight may be worked.

The Master of the Mill was directed to prepare an account of the full particulars of the quantity of work, which may be executed.


(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')



cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 02, 2011, 18:45:36
Commissioner Cunningham to Navy Board: commentary on submitted sawyers' petition

[TNA ADM106/1828]

10 March 1824

They beg to state to you the nature of the timber from it being kept under cover is very hard and more difficult to cut than formerly. They further beg to state that they labour under a greater disadvantage than any other yard on account of the sawmill, which deprives them of the best and lightest work of the yard.


(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 02, 2011, 18:58:18
Commissioner Cunningham to Navy Board: steam machinery problems

[TNA, ADM 106/1832]

19 January 1826

With reference to your letter of the 11th inst., desiring that one of the wrought iron boilers ordered in May last of Mr. Maudslay for the saw mill, be put up in lieu of the boilers sent from Mr. Lloyd, which on trial was found to be so badly made as to be quite unfit for use. I acquaint you that the boilers in question, have not yet been delivered by Mr. Maudslay, and request that they (or one of them) maybe sent into s[t]ore without further delay.

At present there is but one boiler to work the engine at the saw mill, and that, although said to work in May last, is now in so bad a condition, it is with the greatest difficulty a sufficient quantity can be produced to impel the machinery; and without some prompt measures are pursued, it is expected that the sawing apparatus must stand still, for want of a boiler to work the steam engine.


(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 04, 2011, 18:41:23
Architect to Victualling Board: employment of saw mill engine.

[TNA, ADM114/40]

16 March 1827

I beg to lay before you the following information respecting the means of supplying water at Chatham Hospital for your guidance – The supply of water for the houses in the dock yard and for the Marine Barracks flows from a reservoir near the saw mill into which it is pumped by the engine – This Reservoir, being only 15 feet above the cill of the dock yard entrance gates is high enough to supply the Marine Barracks (which lies lower). It will not answer for the hospital, the Cistern of which is 60 feet above that level.

If therefore the supply is to be from the dock yard the water must be forced up by the engine, as high as the top of the building. The pipes will answer this purpose as far as the dock yard gates, and may be continued from there to the hospital premises. I should advise a puddle reservoir, to contain 500 tons of water, to be formed in the small piece of ground A annexed which is the only part of the government premises that is sufficiently high for the water to flow, thence to the level of the roofs of the pavilions where some of the cisterns are. The water will soften and exposure to the air in this reservoir and the supply will always be certain, whilst the most convenient times may be taken for renewing it by the engine in the course of the week.

It will be useless to alter the system of supply to the Marine Barracks because it would only add to the labour by lifting the water to an unnecessary height.

There is no doubt that the saw mill engine can perform this service at such hours. It would not be disadvantageous that it should be so, because the steam is always kept up. In the event of a fire with a main pipe along the side of the hospital and buildings the force of the engine could be applied which is far more efficient than the ordinary flow from the reservoir which however will be very desirable for the supplying of water for consumption.

I am not disposed to credit this report that the dock yard water is not good and find various options therein, but if that should be the case then the well in the garden at B may be deepened and enlarged and an engine of about 4 or 6 horse power may be put up hereafter to supply the Reservoir. The connection of pipes with this to the Dock Yard may be found advantageous to both parties in case of emergency at either place.

A sample of water from the well at the Ordnance Barracks, that of the dock yard and that of W. Baldocks close to the Hospital have been produced to be analysed.


(Macdougall ‘Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865’)



cliveh






Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 05, 2011, 21:34:55
Master Attendant to Navy Board: increased demand upon sawmill

[TNA, ADM106/1833]

11 October 1827

Averting to your letter of the 6th inst. desiring the saw mills may be worked day and night for the intended dwellings at Fernando Po. I beg to acquaint you that as there are not two sets of workmen in the yard capable of working the mill and as strangers would do but little with the machinery compared with the experienced men, they are of opinion that the men usually employed in the saw mills work extra from daylight in the morning until dark at night and on Sundays. They would cut more materials than persons unaccustomed to the particular motions of the machinery in the night. They have further stated that the steam engine must be employed about three hours every night, to pump water for the use of the dockyard, Royal Marines and convicts.

I beg to add that it has been judged expedient in order to prevent any delay, to arrange for workmen at the saw mill, with one millwright and shipwright to work until dark this evening and all day tomorrow (Sunday) and to come into the yard at half past four o’clock on Monday morning.


(Macdougall ‘Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865’)



cliveh 




Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 07, 2011, 18:19:32
Commissioner Cunningham top Navy Board: employment of saw mill

[TNA, ADM106/1838]

5 March 1829

In return to your letter of the 10th ultimo, signifying that it appears expedient in that the sawmills should if possible be employed exclusively in cutting African timber into thick stuff and planks. I acquaint you that the officers report that in their opinion it is probable that 1560 loads of thick stuff and plank can be cut there per annum by employing four frames, it being necessary to continue the other three frames in cutting beams, waterways, deals, scantlings &c. The officers further state that £12 7s 9d is the probable rate per load, at which the said thick stuff and plank can be cut, having calculated the timber at the rate of £9 9s per load conformably to your letter of the 6th August 1828.


(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 08, 2011, 18:23:39
Surveyor of Navy to Admiralty: powering of turning lathe

[TNA, ADM222/4]

22 January 1834

Recommended that the spare power not at present used in the machinery at the sawmills at Chatham be applied to a turning lathe for spindles of capstans and for iron and woodwork, which are at present effected by manual labour.

[Marginal note]
This measure is very desirable but I do not know if there is any lathe at Chatham applicable to the purpose. I would submit that the officers report on the measure requisite to be taken, and the means they have applicable thereto and an estimate of such parts as they can form a judgement of.


(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 08, 2011, 18:29:36
Admiralty to Superintendent Gordon: powering of turning lathe

[NMM, CHA/H/9]

24 March 1834

I am commanded by My Lords Commissioners of the Admralty to acquaint you that they approve of applying the spare power, not at present used by the machinery at the sawmills, for turning spindles of capstans and other iron and woodwork, and for drilling holes in iron knees &c. as mentioned in your letter of the 22nd inst.


(Macdougall 'Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865')


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 08, 2011, 19:23:37
Description of the Sawmill

[Wright, Topography of Rochester, Chatham, Strood, Brompton &c (Chatham Hill, 1838), p.73]

1838

The sawmills are situated at the northeast extremity of the dockyard. They are erected on rising ground about thirty-five feet above the level of the lowest part of the yard, and are enclosed in a room ninety feet square, roofed in by a light covering constructed of wood and wrought iron. The machinery comprises eight saw-frames, and two circular benches, with windlasses and capstans, which feed the frames; to work which an excellent thirty-horse power steam-engine is employed. These frames again are wholly independent of one another, and each of them formed to admit of from one to thirty saws, inserted or removable at pleasure, according to the number of planks required to be oibtained out of a beam of timber, which, moreover can, by their arrangement, be procured of various thickness if necessary.

The ground on the north side of the mills is appropriated to the stowage of the timber, to which balks are floated from the river by means of a canal running open to the extent of about 250 feet, till it enters the rising ground, when it becomes a tunnel 300 feet in length, and discharges itself into an elliptical basin ninety feet long, seventy-two feet broad, and forty-four feet deep, from whence the timber is raised to the saws with extraordinary velocity by the machine of the mills.

There is also a room appointed to models of blocks, and is a very handsome exhibition.

The whole of these admirable contrivances were projected and executed by the ingenious Mr. Brunel, of Thames tunnel celebrity.


(Macdougall ‘Chatham Dockyard 1815-1865’)


And that concludes my humble offerings about the Saw Mill from Macdougall's fine book! Hope they've been of interest!  :)


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: DaveTheTrain on December 08, 2011, 22:17:48
Thanks CliveH,

Your notes prompted me to look on the British Newspaper Archive.  There is an article in the Morning Post for March 1862, reviewing a biography of Brunel.  It notes he also built a mill (sic) at Battersea.

SA
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Bilgerat on April 22, 2012, 22:32:04
Leofwine is right. I was in there last summer and it's pretty much a modern sawmill/joinery shop. No old-fashioned steam-driven machinery in there now I'm afraid.

ps - sorry it took so long to respond to this one.........
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 07, 2012, 08:37:24
I think this photo shows the remains of the sawframes in situ:

cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on November 08, 2012, 11:05:27
A few plans of some of the machinery used by the sawmill; apologies for poor quality:


cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Sentinel S4 on November 08, 2012, 20:14:30
WOW :)! Thanks for that gents.

S4.
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on December 29, 2012, 17:50:51
Some colourful plans for you.  Unfortunately the writing hasn't come out very clear.

1840

Chatham Shed.  Front and side view of standards to 2nd slip roof.  (This was in a folder marked Brunel Saw Mill.
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8465.jpg)

These show the tunnel to the mastpond

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8466.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8467.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8468.jpg)
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Sentinel S4 on December 29, 2012, 17:58:04
How was the timber from the Mast Pond drawn to the saw mill? There is no walk way/tow path shown. How deep was the water inside the tunnel? Were Men/Boys expected to wade through pushing/pulling the timber? What is that detail at the pond end of the tunnel?

Wonderful drawings, thanks Kyn.

S4.

 
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on December 29, 2012, 18:02:00
I don't know enough about the workings of the system to answer your questions.  Someone else is bound to be able to answer them though!

I have some more plans to post at a later date :)
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 29, 2012, 18:27:12
How was the timber from the Mast Pond drawn to the saw mill? There is no walk way/tow path shewn. How deep was the water inside the tunnel? Were Men/Boys expected to wade through pushing/pulling the timber? What is that detail at the pond end of the tunnel?

Wonderful drawings, thanks Kyn.

S4.

S4 the timber was floated from the river, (not the Mast Pond), via a canal into a tunnel which emptied into an 'elliptical basin' (presumably the basin was at a lower level to the tunnel). From the basin the logs were raised by a mechanical lift powered by the Sawmill's steam engine. When it reached the surface it was grabbed by the arms of a moveable crane on rails. This crane descended an incline and then deposited the log onto a 'drying bed' where it would be surveyed. The same crane would then move the dried logs into the saw mill for sawing.

Hope this helps

cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on December 29, 2012, 18:28:34
Thank you :)
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on December 29, 2012, 18:55:03
Sorry I should have studied my plans more closely before posting. I see the Mast Pond on them now. This was fed by a tunnel from the river and then from the mast pond via a canal and tunnel to the 'elliptical pool'.

cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on January 13, 2013, 13:17:37
Apologies for the very tightly cut photos, these were huge and my arms were not long enough to hold the camera up to get everything in!

1812 - 1817

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8747_zps167b2893.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8750_zps864fdc1a.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8751_zpsf2fda569.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8752_zps813cb4a7.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8753_zps462c6dbb.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8754_zpscf709866.jpg)
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on January 14, 2013, 15:59:12
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8757_zps1e983fa1.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8756_zps04a7d2bd.jpg)

Cast Iron beams with plates & for securing the Pumps and Machinery against accidents from fire erected in His Majesty's Dock Yard at Chatham.  December the 23rd 1814.  (Signed by Brunel himself).
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8758_zps391ba1fa.jpg)

Proposed Cast Iron Floor, party walls & for the protection from fire of the Water Works and Machinery connected with the Saw Mill erected in His Majesty's Dock Yard at Chatham.  Nov 25th 1814.  (Signed by Marc Brunel).
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8765_zps39b6f225.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8767_zps4d545b46.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8768_zps1932d2ae.jpg)
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Sentinel S4 on January 14, 2013, 18:34:11
Kyn, I will love you forever for posting these............... Marc Brunel a genius, an unsung genius at that........... Thank you so much, and yes I am drooling............... These answer a good few questions, as well as starting a few. Enough for now I have to go back to these drawings...............

Your Obedient Servant, S4.
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on January 14, 2013, 18:45:09
 :)  There are still some more to come!
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on January 16, 2013, 14:20:13
Saw Mill - plan & elevation of Engine Chimney June 19th 1813

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8769_zps5aa6eac7.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8770_zps32fea5ae.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8774_zps61f4c2e4.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8775_zps7e30dfb8.jpg)
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on January 17, 2013, 14:00:03
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8776_zpse301dd67.jpg)

Plan and sections of the Engine and boiler house of the Saw Mill at His Majesty's Dock Yard at Chatham.

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8780_zps549a241d.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8781_zps35b80cb9.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8782_zps96d4fe24.jpg)
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on January 18, 2013, 08:32:21
Last four images...

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8784_zpsf54fcd52.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8785_zps13366f06.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8786_zpscde21321.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8787_zpsbbea64e5.jpg)
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Sentinel S4 on January 18, 2013, 18:03:14
Nooooo, need more........................ Please. :) :) :) :) :)

S4.
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on January 18, 2013, 18:24:01
There are no more!  You will have to wait until my next visit to the Archives, whenever that will be!  I am glad you have enjoyed them though :)
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Signals99 on January 27, 2013, 23:01:12
Hi! I'm the lad who worked at Lodge Hill as a junior store house assistant (see military lands) after being sent "over the river" to the yard. I was allocated to the old saw mills. it was a wonderland of things to play with, it was in fact the naval diving stores, rows and rows of Sibe Gorman helmets with lovely shiny brass bits too, air cocks, face plates to remove. Large cardboard boxes holding rubber diving suits.
Packed in French chalk, all the multitude of stores to cover every type of RN requirements, all mine to play with as each ships outfit was, at the most, two sets of equipment. Not a lot of work came our way.The staff consisted of a store man, a stores assistant and me. Two ladies drifted in and out from time to time, but not too sure of there function, apart from selling raffle tickets plus making tea.
I remember the cast iron saw frames, but not a lot much else. Happy days!
 
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: cliveh on January 28, 2013, 07:22:27
Hi! I'm the lad who worked at Lodge Hill as a junior store house assistant (see military lands) after being sent "over the river" to the yard. I was allocated to the old saw mills. it was a wonderland of things to play with, it was in fact the naval diving stores, rows and rows of Sibe Gorman helmets with lovely shiny brass bits too, air cocks, face plates to remove. Large cardboard boxes holding rubber diving suits.
Packed in French chalk, all the multitude of stores to cover every type of RN requirements, all mine to play with as each ships outfit was, at the most, two sets of equipment. Not a lot of work came our way.The staff consisted of a store man, a stores assistant and me. Two ladies drifted in and out from time to time, but not too sure of there function, apart from selling raffle tickets plus making tea.
I remember the cast iron saw frames, but not a lot much else. Happy days!

Thanks for those memories Signals99. I always wondered what uses the Sawmill had in more recent times.

cliveh
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: zhica on August 20, 2013, 01:41:30
Dear Kyn,

I was just wondering -  do you possibly have the archive references for the cast iron beam and proposed cast iron floor drawings?

If you do, I would be most grateful.

Best wishes


Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: kyn on August 20, 2013, 13:01:30
Hi Zhica,

The plans are from file ADM 140/99 at the National Archives in Kew.  :)
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: Sentinel S4 on October 07, 2015, 21:07:30
I have just been reading a book on the Great Western Broad Gauge, the 7' gauge. This was a different railway not only for the Gauge but the construction. Instead of transverse sleepers (as still seen on virtually all railways in the World) it ran on a Baulk Road. This was long timbers with the rails nailed to the top and transverse baulks keeping the twain apart. There are several theories as to how Isambard came to the construction and gauge, however it seems that he had already worked on a short line of that, or close to, gauge and construction here in Chatham Dockyard. It appears that as well as the Tunnel Canal there was a rail link constructed at the same time.

Are there any illustrations, documents or evidence of remains of this line? It would have run close to or even over the tunnel, with 8" - 12" baulks set into the granite setts, much like the horse wagon runs that can be seen in places around the docks, but with iron rails on the timber.

This might seem to be insignificant to many but to me is rather important as it ties in with some research I have been doing recently.

S4.
Title: Re: The Brunel Sawmill
Post by: smiffy on July 20, 2018, 21:52:56
New IKS video exploring the Sawmill tunnel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8NYPeztV9A