Melbourne sawmaker (W.H.Blakeley)

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by PeterEvans, Oct 28, 2012.

  1. PeterEvans

    PeterEvans Most Valued Member

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  2. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

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    Hi Peter,

    I cannot help you on Blakeley except to say that there is a lot on Google about him/them mainly, judging from reading the headings only about knives and mainly about the modern successor company. There are some good images of the founder, though.

    But I did find this

    http://www.blakeley.com.au/about.html

    which may explain why the saw looks like a Sheffield one.

    The question for me about this saw is:- "What sort of wood is the handle made from"?

    The type of wood may shed some light on the origin of the saw. but I have been so wrong about woods in the past that I am not going to hazard my opinion.

    Fred
     
  3. PeterEvans

    PeterEvans Most Valued Member

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    Oops Fred, I am so used to finding little/nothing about Oz makers on Google, I did not even look. Mea maxima calpa (about all I remember from schoolboy latin, probably the most applicable term from those unlamented schooldays).
     
  4. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    587
    Hi Peter,

    I was the losing bidder on that auction....

    As to whether the saw was made in Melbourne or Sheffield, that was part of the motivation behind bidding, I was hoping that having the actual saw might provide some clues...

    I'd like to think it was made in Melbourne, Blakeley certainly had the credentials to do it.

    Since they are still in business, my next step after seeing the saw was going to be to pay a visit to the company and see what historical records might still exist, things like purchase records, invoices, wage books listing occupations etc..

    I'll wait for the next one. :)

    Regards
    Ray
     
  5. pmcgee

    pmcgee Most Valued Member

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    And there was a #76 for sale also ... maybe the Oz saw market is livening up?

    :p

    Paul
     
  6. pmcgee

    pmcgee Most Valued Member

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    What it doesn't explain is how he had the energy to start up in Little Bourke St, 102 years after the New Zealand commission!

    'spose it could be a typo.

    :)

    For posterity ...
     

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    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
  7. purfler

    purfler Most Valued Member

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    Ray,

    Please do so. If their records still exist please encourage them to consider lodging them in a public collection. The Univeristy of Melbourne Archives collects business and union records (http://www.lib.unimelb.edu.au/collections/archives/). I'm happy to speak to my colleague at Melbourne (I'm the Archivist at Sydney) about the significance of such records. Let me know if you think I can be of any assistance.

    Regards,

    Tim
     
  8. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks Tim,

    It will be an interesting research exercise, Australian saw makers are rare enough, to actually find one in the backyard, still in business, is a rare opportunity... I'll be in touch if anything interesting turns up.

    Not like living in Sheffield where there are detailed records available everywhere.. :)

    Regards
    Ray

    PS.. Peter, I've edited the thread title hope you don't mind.
     
  9. Scribbly Gum

    Scribbly Gum Member

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    Greetings chaps.
    First post on this forum. I was the seller of the W H Blakeley, and didn't realise that it was an Australian made saw until a couple of bidders names popped up and got my attention. Yes, I know - Melbourne - where else would it be ...... well I didn't give it much thought and assumed that there was a Melbourne somewhere in the UK. The saw does look very UK-ish in its origins to me.
    Anyhoo, it is good to be here, and hopefully I will learn as well as contribute.
    Cheers to all
    SG
     

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  10. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

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    Hi Scribbly,

    You are right in assuming that there is a Melbourne in the UK.

    It is in Derbyshire, but a little remote from the rough and tumble of a saw making area. That is unless someone is going to tell me that there are Melbourne saw makers. :eek:

    Fred
     
  11. purfler

    purfler Most Valued Member

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  12. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Tim,

    I keep forgetting to check that excellent resource, http://trove.nla.gov.au/

    I found some interesting pictures...

    This one is W.H. Blakeley Saw Sharpening 1906
    [​IMG]

    The next from 1924, shows some of their grinding facilities

    [​IMG]

    Then another interesting one.. they were agents for Disston at the time of the 1884 exhibition
    [​IMG]

    The text from the Camperdown Chronicle 31st August 1901 is as follows...

    W. H. Blakeley and Co.
    This firm's advertisement will be noted
    in another column. They are still to the
    front as saw-makers and importers of all
    kinds of saws, files, emery wheels, belting,
    etc., and being the agents for Henry
    Disston and Sons, of Philadelphia, have
    always on hand a large and well-assorted
    stock of their goods. In the repairing
    department they hare special facilities
    for grinding circular saws, whereby old
    saws may be reduced in thickness to any
    gauge desired, equal to new; saw-millers
    will find this a great boon, as by this
    means worn-down saws that otherwise
    would be too thick and useless can be
    made suitable gauges for work required,
    at a Moderate cost. They are also
    manufacturers of planer knives and cutters
    any length or pattern, and warrant every
    knife to be of the best quality and temper
    and free from flaws.


    So, the jury is still out as to whether they made saws other than circular saws, they certainly imported the Disston range from at least as early as 1884, I daresay they might well have imported saws from Sheffield with their own mark..

    I'd have to conclude they were quite capable of making their own saws, and given W.H.Blakeley's background as a Sheffield Sawmaker, he would have has the expertise required..

    Still not confirmed as Australian made. but I'm not giving up just yet...

    Regards
    Ray
     
  13. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    Just for interest sake,

    Here's the W.H.Blakeley Factory as it was in 1924

    [​IMG]

    And amazingly, the same address, today ( courtesty Google Street View)

    [​IMG]


    Surrounded by steel and glass multistory buildings... it's still there!

    Regards
    Ray
     
  14. purfler

    purfler Most Valued Member

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    Great photos. I assume the building is heritage listed otherwise it would be long gone.

    Tim
     
  15. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

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    Melbourne maker -Blakeley

    Fascinating thread, great pictures. I can add the following info, partly gleaned from correspondence with the current owners of the firm.
    BLAKELEY, Charles H. SHEFFIELD
    Maxey Saw Works, Sylvester Lane 1871-1889
    60 (58-66) Jessop Street 1893-1895
    165 Napier Street 1898-1909
    BLAKELEY, Charles H & Sons Ltd
    165 Napier Street 1912-1974
    1879: saw and machine knife manufacturer. An artillery saw dated 1915 has been reported.

    Henry Blakeley, a Sheffield-born maker and an important maker and retailer of saws in Melbourne, Australia, was apprenticed to Russell & Horsfield; according to information from his descendants who are the present operators of the company, after his apprenticeship he moved to Bradford and helped to make what was in 1865 the world's longest continuous bandsaw (33 feet, and 6 inches wide). He sailed to New Zealand, installed the bandsaw and then went on to Melbourne in 1866, commencing his business in 1867. There is no known relationship between the émigré and the above saw makers, although the surname is not a common one. (Thanks to Helen Blakeley, of blakeley.com.au, machine knife manufacturers, for this information).

    I might add that the above is from my forthcoming book, but outside the necessary caution of that format, I would say that it seems extremely likely to me that there is some relationship between the Australian Blakeley and the Sheffield makers - a younger son, or one who quarrelled with the management??.
     
  16. purfler

    purfler Most Valued Member

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    Forthcoming book??

    Sounds very interesting - can you supply any more information? Like, will it be out for Christmas:)

    Tim
     
  17. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

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    Melbourne sawmaker

    I'm reluctant to go on about anything I've written, but feel that on backsaw it's OK to quote from what is still a manuscript sitting with a publisher who told me that he expected publication "early in 2013" - but now this date has been put on hold, as the world business situation (books especially, I believe) is pretty dire.
    So 'forthcoming' is distinctly optimistic, I'm afraid. I try to put up makers' biographies as needed on backsaw, and will continue to do so whenever I can, in the hope of providing information that I would like to think is mostly accurate. Simon (happy to be contacted on email barleys@mac.com, but would prefer the conversations to continue to be shared by all here)
     
  18. purfler

    purfler Most Valued Member

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    Yes, book publishing, especially for niche markets is a risky business. I have friend who went the self publishing route, and did a fabulous job of it, but I don't dare ask about the economics of the venture. In the world of violin making thre seems to be a polarisation of publishing - either free on the web, or amazingly expensive. I have a two volume set on one maker that cost $1,000 and that isn't unusual by any means. The model seems to be low volume, high profit.

    Regards,

    Tim
     
  19. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    I received the following by email from Peter McBride. Some great historical background to WH Blakely

    blakeley01.jpg


    blakeley02.jpg
     
    Underthedirt likes this.
  20. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

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    Congratulations to Helen and her team: I wonder if any one who reads the book can shed any light on my own still unanswered question: what was a firm in Bradford doing making the world's biggest bandsaw??
    Bradford was in the 1870s the UK capital of the wool industry, with no firms that I've heard of who were making machine saws, although there were plenty of engineering firms making installing woollen mill and other kinds of machinery. A very minor query for anyone but a saw nerd, I guess, but I'd still like to know!
    Simon