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Science / Timber Yard

Timber Crane

Timber Crane winding mechanism

The timber crane is the centrepiece of the yard which contains a rack saw bench, a sawpit and a hewing area and workshop. 

The crane was used on Basing Home Farm near Alton in Hampshire since it was manufactured, circa 1900. It is a fixed crane manufactured by John Smith Ltd of Keighley, originally designed to lift up to 5 tons and is hand powered through two winding mechanisms (hence the two cable drums).  One drum manoeuvres the jib and the other lifts the load.  In its present state it is limited to loads of one ton to protect the original parts of the crane.

Once a very common piece of equipment in most timber yards for moving trees for processing and cut logs such cranes are now rare.

Rack Saw Bench

Saw Pit

The rack saw bench was powered by an engine or a power take-off from a tractor and was used to reduce large timber logs to sawn sections.
Click here for a video clip of the rack saw driven by a steam engine.

The saw pit has been made shallower than usual in order that visitors will be more easily able to see both sawyers when the pit is in use. It has been dug in such a position that it can be serviced by the timber crane: felled logs can be moved around the yard, from delivery, to storage, to sawpit, to saw bench, all using the crane.The timber yard is easily accessible from the track, so that logs can be brought to the yard using the Museumís heavy horses and timber-moving vehicles.


Pit-sawing  in the 20th century. 
Photo: Museum of English Rural Life