Tree fellers at the turn of the century show how dangerous the scaffolding was.
Tree fellers at the turn of the century show how dangerous the scaffolding was. Wikimedia Commons

Tree-felling was a necessary but risky business

LIFE on the land in the Northern Rivers was hard, with plenty of clearing needed to be done just to be able to build a home and farm some land.

It was no surprise that large trees needed to be felled before any of these goals could be achieved.

The process used by tree fellers at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries included a cantilevered wooden pole wedged in a pocket cut into the side of the tree, known as a springboard.

It’s not known if this was the type of scaffolding Charles Mathew Cooper was using when he was working on chopping down a tree, but it is highly likely.

Charles was a young man of 26 who lived at Chilcott’s Grass and had been working on his own.

He was found on Friday, July 7 lying clear of the tree he had been working on, unconscious with a broken jaw and severe injuries around the head.

He was rushed to hospital but died the next day from his wounds.

The burial place of Charles Mathew Cooper who died while felling a tree
The burial place of Charles Mathew Cooper who died while felling a tree Samantha Elley

According to newpaper reports of the day, it was supposed that the wind caused the tree to fall in the opposite direction than expected, striking the young man as it fell.

References

  • Northern Star, Wednesday, July 12, 1899.
  • The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser, Friday July 14, 1899


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