From the collection of the Canterbury Museum.
William Coop (1831-1897) and the Springvale Sawmill
In 1863 William Coop undertook the remarkable feat of transporting heavy sawmilling machinery from Melbourne to Lyttelton, and on to Little River. The machinery included a 32 horse power boiler engine, rollers and vertical saw bench. It was so heavy that it had to be carried as deck cargo during the ship journey from Melbourne, and it took a team of bullocks three months to haul it to Little River. The machinery was first used for the Forsyth Sawmill which Coop ran in partnership with William White. In 1873 the mill was moved further up the road where Coop established the Springvale sawmill which operated until 1900.
The sawmills of Banks Peninsula played an important role in developing the infrastructure of the growing Canterbury colony during the nineteenth century. But they also contributed to the loss of native forests, and the irrevocable transformation of the natural environment.
List of timber sales accounts, June 1875
from ledger for Springvale, November 1873 – December 1879, page 46
Canterbury Museum Manuscripts Collection
Coop’s house at Little River. Dr A C Barker in foreground
Part of the Cantage Records and Archives Week 2010 exhibition