© Copyright 2011  Julianne Dodds
Home Contact Timber Echoes From the Past
Timber, Veneer and Plywood 1901 - 1969
Mac’s men
Over the years Mac had employed hundreds of mill workers considering that, at one stage, he was operating three mill companies at the same time. Most of the men were labourers – Mac was continually putting on ‘strong young lads’ under the age of eighteen. Each mill had a foreman. Under his charge were the tallymen (they selected, measured and marked timber for cutting or delivery), carpenters and joiners, wood turners, machinists for pressing plywood, sawyers, sawyers assistants (puller-out), saw doctors, stackers, sorters, loaders and unloaders of sawn timber, and stationary boiler operators. As Mac also cut down his own timber, he also employed fellers, teamsters and general sawmill staff for his properties south of Brisbane. Apart from these labourers, there was an accountant, and timber buyers appointed in all States of Australia. Mac believed in looking after his workers. He built and bought houses close to the mills and rented them out to his employees and their families. These homes were built with quality timber and lined with plywood from Mac’s mills. They were built to last.
Left: No. 12 Annie Street at Woolloongabba in 1920. Photo from Williams Collection. Above: The same house 90 years later. The verandah has been closed in.
During the peak of his plywood production – Mac (centre middle row) and thirty-one of his employees. The long buildings of Coorparoo Plywood Mills can be seen behind the group. Williams  Collection
Mill workmen in a custom made flatbed truck. c. 1923. Williams Collection
One of his employees, James Gibb, who was a foreman and operated the mill lathes for many years also worked as a handyman, repairing Mac’s house properties. His son, Bill, in later years was also employed at the mill. Another yard foreman, Oscar Norton, was Mac’s father in law. Mac’s plywood mill continued as a financial success, in spite of the post-war depression period. He had designed most of the machinery for his mills. For a man of limited education, he was able to work out the design and placement of lathes – a great engineering feat. For the construction of these lathes and equipment, Evans Anderson, Phelan and Company at Kangaroo Point was appointed. Mac also imported machinery from America including a Capitol seven foot veneer lathe that was specially constructed to cut high-class figured veneers.
Moulding a new career First rotary lathe in Brisbane Woolloongabba Mills Glue and logs from the country Expansion after The Great War Mac's men at the mills Largest plywood mill in Australia Timber resources The Great Depression Queensland Veneer Company World War II Retirement References