the Woodyard, Thoresby Park, Nr Ollerton
The Woodyard is situated at the other side of Thoresby Lake from Thoresby Hall, outside the region known as the Pleasure Grounds. It was built in 1876, during the time of Sydney William Herbert Pierrepont, 3rd Earl Manvers, at a cost of £64,000. This is where the timber grown by Thoresby Forestry Department became the Estate fences, telephone poles, window frames, doors, and much, much more.
Selected trees would be felled after the leaves had fallen, and the sap was no longer rising. These would be taken to the Woodyard where the 40 H.P. gas engine of the large central saw mill cut them into their desired formats. This saw mill, the large central building on the picture below, was run by Jack Williamson and his staff of about six men. It was also the location of the band saw, lathe, and various other powered woodworking machines, the floor to the saw mill concealing a maze of pulleys, shafts and drive belts. I well remember waking to the sound of Jack's early morning saw, and the smell of the fresh cut timber which would then be stacked in the central drying shed for to years before being used in the joiners' shop at the Woodyard entrance. At the rear of the Woodyard, next sand pits, was the "shavings shed" in which younger, slimmer, timbers were manually stripped of their bark.
Beside the saw mill was a huge, black, metal creosote tank, 20 foot long and 5 foot diameter. This is where fence posts and poles would be left to soak after the tank was flooded with creosote, a banned substance today. It resembled noth less than a submarine, and young boy was able to stand upright inside.
As the nation's oil lamps gave way to gas a gas works was installed behind the Woodyard cottages on the northern side of the yard at a cost of £2,251. This supplied Thoresby Hall, Perlethorpe Church, the path to the Hall and its gates, Perlethorpe School, and Buck Gates. Two large circles where the gas works stood are still visible in the dry weather. During the 1930's Johnny Mellors lived in the Woodyard cottages and three times a week took a horse drawn cart to Ollerton Station to get coal for Thoresby hall's boilers.
In August 1940 a number of incendary bombs fell on Thoresby, and Walesby. During the night of 29th August the Woodyard caught fire as a result of this but no extensive damage was done.
On the right of the Woodyard entrance was the office of the Clerk of Works this being Johnny Mellors in the 1930's, Noel Whitworth from 1940 - 50, and Jack Bramley between 1950 - 1963. Opposite his office was the main joiner's shop in which worked such personnel as William “Jock” Craig, foreman of the Woodyard during the 1950's, and Gran Gilliver. Others in the workforce included Bill Nunn and Jack Kenyon, the latter of whom was also the church boiler stoker in 1959. All these men took great pride in their skills and versatility.
Above: The Woodyard in 1984. Three Gables can be seen on the distant right. The large central building was the saw mill, whilst the works van parked inside the building on the left. Below: Photo taken from the Hayride of 2015.