My neighbors in Kolkata had this smaller folding table in their residence which caught my fascination as a youngster. That shining piece of sturdy wood was their prized possession which was produced in Chatham and gifted to them. I would frequently touch it with my bare hands secretly hoping to possess a single, a small reduced could be which would be the perfect writing table for me and my poetry. I was ten years old and with my restricted geography expertise all I knew was that Chatham was someplace in Andaman deep in the Ocean exactly where I could not attain effortlessly. Various years later, I was ultimately going to Andaman and Chatham Saw Mill figured higher on my list. I could not come across that writing table etched in my memory but I did see the location exactly where they are produced.
1 of the Need to Do activities although going to Port Blair is to consist of a pay a visit to to Chatham Saw Mill
Chatham Saw Mill was established in 1883 and a lot more than a century later it is nevertheless functioning as Asia’s Oldest Saw Mill beneath the aegis of the government. The saw mill is named just after the island Chatham exactly where it is positioned. Chatham is like an extension of Port Blair connected by a wooden bridge produced in the saw mill which was later replaced by a concrete a single. It is the gateway to Mt Harriet and other smaller sized islands.
The Saw Mill and the museum inside is open to the Public all by means of the year from Tuesday to Sunday from 8am to 14.30 hours in the afternoon. The saw mill is closed for production involving 1st to 15th April just about every year for annual stock taking, budgeting and arranging. I visited for the duration of this period, could move about but not witness the actual wood processing in the mill.
History of the Saw Mill:
The saw mill was established in 1883 to cater to the increasing need to have for wood in the location as the island settlement in Port Blair gradually expanded. The Bristish also utilised the mill to approach big quantity of timber for London, New York and several other Europen cities. It is exciting to know that the crimson walls of Buckingham Palace in London is produced from the Padouk wood of the Andaman Islands processed in Chatham Saw Mill.
The Japanese attacked the Mill in March 1942 which led to the mass killing of unsuspecting workers. The Japanese made bunkers inside the saw mill for three years involving 1942 and 1945 utilizing it as a base for the duration of Globe War II. 1 of the bunkers can nevertheless be noticed just just after the memorial monument.
About the Saw Mill:
I opted for a guided tour of the Mill. We walked previous the wagon which was utilised in the early years to carry wood from a single workshop to yet another. I could envision the yester-year scene of the wagon chugging previous.
Just after a short pay a visit to to the museum we walked by means of the Padouk Wood Storage location to the far corner exactly where the logs have been brought in from the jetty by boat into the mill.
They are soaked in sea water for many days ahead of processing in the mill.
Then they are sorted and ultimately reduce in distinct sizes in the distinct machines inside the mill and offered finishing touches on the assembly line. 1 of the machines imported from US was a lot more than a hundred years old.
Museum and Souvenir Shop
The smaller museum inside the mill complicated has an exciting collection of artefacts about the island, flora, fauna as nicely as pictoral information and facts on how the mill was constructed a lot more than a hundred years ago. There was a preserved dolphin, old mariner’s compass and the skull of a sea cow amongst samples of wood. There have been many intricately carved and aesthetically made things produced from Padouk Wood on show. Suitable subsequent is a smaller location with trees (Pillar of the Planet) and a lifelike wooden elephant and crocodile on show with the message of living in harmony with nature with due respect and regard.
Guided Check out
I would strongly advocate a guided pay a visit to which would not take a lot more than 45 minutes. Ganesh my guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and produced it exciting for me with tit bits specially considering that the mill was not functioning that day.