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Family of timber workers

Mullumbimby Saw Mill 1903
Mullumbimby Saw Mill 1903

ALTHOUGH much has been written about the early cedar cutters of this area there is very little relating to the later timber industry, especially details of all the sawmills which were scattered throughout the region.

A recent publication fills a gap by recording the many years of history concerning the sawmill at Mullumbimby run mainly by the Hollingworth family.

As other mills in the area were purchased by or amalgamated with this mill over the years we also learn some of the history of those mills.

The book, The Mullumbimby Sawmill, has taken many years to compile by well-known family historian Nicholson Hollingworth.

It has been published by the Brunswick Valley Historical Society and contains many excellent photographs as well as a fascinating history of the Hollingworth family.

Nicholson (Nick) Hollingworth is the fifth generation of his family to be involved with the timber industry.

The history of the Mullumbimby mill actually starts in Lismore where J.E. Glasgow had established another mill alongside the Richmond River.

Joseph Nicholson Hollingworth, son of early Lismore settlers Thomas and Ann Hollingworth, was born in 1864.

He received about three months schooling before he was 14 and began working for his mother's brother, Thomas King, felling scrub near Woodburn.

Twelve months later he commenced an apprenticeship with J.E. Glasgow at his Lismore sawmill. Joseph eventually became a millwright and master sawmiller.

In June 1902 Joseph purchased Glasgow's Mullumbimby mill for £900.

After a short time he had a partnership agreement with his cousin Robert Raymond Mallet who, apparently, had been involved with exporting timber from Western Australia at one time.

It is not clear whether the partnership included the mill itself or whether it solely referred to the sale of the timber. In documentation the two men are referred to as timber merchants though it was the Hollingworth & Mallet Saw Mill.

The Mill was situated in the middle of some heavily wooded areas which made delivery of logs more convenient.

Bullocks were used to haul the timber. Nick tells us that the bullocks working in the timber yard were not yoked as was the normal practice.

Instead they were harnessed which meant that they could move more easily through the obstacles in the yard and haul logs up the mill ramp.

Mallet built a beautiful home next to the mill and called it The Gables.

It became a showpiece. Joseph himself built a fine house which he called Belongin.

The partnership of Hollingworth & Mallet was dissolved in 1915 and Joseph became the sole proprietor of the business enterprise. Joseph died in 1919 in the influenza epidemic.

Following his death the business was made into a company with various family members being involved.

In 1964 the business was sold to Standards Sawmill Co. which closed the mill down. The site is now occupied by the Byron Shire Council Chambers.

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