Overview of Sunshine Harvester Works' Woodmill.
Year established: 1904
The Sunshine Harvester Works' Woodmill manufactured wooden parts for agricultural equipment produced by the company. It also manufactured shipping cases and crates. By the late 1960s, the Woodmill was using nearly a million super feet of timber annually.
The Woodmill was re-established in 1952 in a building formerly known as 'the Annexe' where munitions were manufactured during World War II. The new mill was equipped with the latest technology. For instance, a straddle truck transported timber from the Timber Yards to the Woodmill. An electric hoist delivered the timber to any one of the six circular saws or two moulding machines located in the Woodmill. After being processed, the timber was then oiled or varnished and then sent to the factory assembly shops. In addition, an exhaust system was installed to blow waste, such as shavings and sawdust, from the Woodmill into a disused quarry.
The company prided itself on the facilities and comfort provided to workers in the new Woodmill. Washing, changing and lunch rooms were established, while the building's pale green, light grey and off-white colour scheme was selected by the company's engineers. The colours were deemed to be 'conducive to efficient working, and help to minimise fatigue'.
There were several workers employed in the Woodmill. Timber expert and buyer Walter William Bult was perhaps the department's longest-serving employee. He began working for the company in 1897 and retired in 1923, aged 80. Other workers in the Woodmill included Bill Haliday (a foreman between the 1930s and 1950s), Larry Young (who worked from the 1950s until the 1970s) and Ernie Nicholls (1970s onwards). Jim Kellet and Archie Snaith were also employed in the Woodmill. In addition, a sub-foreman, wood machinists, case-makers and saw-doctors made up the Woodmill's workforce.
Woodmill workers were involved in industrial disputes. In January 1922, 90 Woodmill workers went on strike following the resignation of their foreman who was replaced by an unpopular figure. The men returned to work a few days later following a discussion with the Trades Hall's disputes committee. The committee arranged a conference with the company's management.
- 'News in Brief', 1922, Zeechan and Dundas Herald, 24 January, p.4.
- 'Strike of Woodworkers', 1922, The Argus, 18 January, p.15.
- 'Sunshine Harvester Works: Section of Men Cease Work', Independent, 21 January, p.6.
- 'Workers at Sunshine', The Argus, 20 January 1922, p.8.
- Sunshine Outlook 1962, ''Bushy' Quits and 'Goes Bush'', Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.8
- Massey-Ferguson late 1960s, Welcome to Sunshine. Held in the H.V McKay Sunshine Collection, Museum Victoria, registration no. HT 20127.