Chatham Saw Mill
Chatham Saw Mill is the oldest and largest saw mills in the whole of Asia. The saw mill has the whole Chatham island for itself, and is connected to Port Blair with a bridge. As with all the other saw mills, Chatham Saw Mill also cuts wood and shapes them into the ones that are required by the market. What is different with this mill is the 125+ year long history (and still running) associated with this island!
Chatham Saw Mill was constructed in 1883 by the British. The mill was equipped with second hand machinery to cut wood that would aid the construction requirements in the region. The wood that was processed in this mill was used in the construction of Cellular Jail in Port Blair, and several buildings in Ross Island. During the British rule, the wood processed here used to be exported to several countries. It is a proud moment for many local artisans when they say that the wood from this mill was also used in few walls of Buckingham Palace in London!
The saw mill also has a museum in its premises. Apart from the regular information about history, flora, fauna of Andaman Islands, this museum also talks about various types of wood available here, and the process involved in cutting the wood into desired shape. The museum also has several wooden handicrafts on display, which demonstrates the skills of the workmen.
Chatham Saw Mill was closed for four years after the Japanese bombarded this island during World War II. Apart from the loss of machinery and factory destruction, several hundreds of workers also lost their lives in the bombings! Chatham Saw Mill resumed its operations in 1946 after Japanese left, and the control was taken over by the British.
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