Fol­low­ing orig­i­nal blue­prints was a chal­lenge

The Packet (Clarenville) - - EDITORIAL -

But Dawe hopes it will not be just tourists com­ing to see the old mill.

“I want our own peo­ple to come and say ‘look at what our an­ces­tors built,’” ex­plained Dawe, who says the orig­i­nal de­sign for the wa­ter wheel was so pre­cise, so de­tailed, and so in­tri­cate that it’s a marvel peo­ple were able to con­struct it with­out the use of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy.

He says that much of the chal­lenge in restor­ing the mill was de­ci­pher­ing the an­ti­quated blue­prints from daysgone-by.

“I had the blue­prints out of the book that Alexan­der Robin­son [a lo­cal his­to­rian] wrote, and I had those blue­prints for 10 years, and I couldn’t re­build this mill be­cause there was no one around who could show me how to do it,” ex­plained Dawe.

“The thing is, when the old mas­ter builders who built these mills, when the en­gines came on the scene back on the turn of the cen­tury, there was no need to pass this down, this tech­nol­ogy that was passed on for maybe the past 1,400 of 1,500 years, from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, how to build these wa­ter wheels and these pit wheels, there was no need to pass this on be­cause they didn’t need it… tech­nol­ogy killed it. Once they were phased out, there was no need to pass this knowl­edge down any more.

“When the old mas­ter builders died, they took it with them.”

It wasn’t un­til Char­lie Fry con­tacted him some years ago that Dawe found his an­swers.

Dawe says that Fry, who had seen a Packet ar­ti­cle about Dawe’s restora­tion project, phoned Dawe and told him that not only did he know how to build the pit wheel, a par­tic­u­larly tricky piece that was chal­leng­ing Dawe, but that he had helped build them be­fore.

“I was on his doorstep 6 a.m. the next morn­ing,” says Dawe. “I never closed my eyes that night.”

Dawe says from his in­ves­ti­ga­tions over the year, the spe­cific de­sign of the pit wheel seems to be unique to New­found­land, and not a de­sign bor­rowed from Eng­land or Ire­land as he had orig­i­nally thought.

He ac­tu­ally has a sec­tion of old, pit wheel rim­ming that was col­lected from an­other mill in the province and given to him, and says he has no idea of any other ex­ist­ing pieces of the New­found­land pit wheel style.

Dawe, who has had to bal­ance the project, which he is pay­ing for out of pocket, with work and fam­ily sched­ules hopes to open the mill to the public next year, be­gin­ning tours pos­si­bly as early as May.

“What a her­itage we got here in New­found­land,” said Dawe.

“When I think of how they out it to­gether, with what they had… it’s so pre­cise… it blows me away, I don’t know where they got the knowl­edge.”

Dawe has asked for feed­back from any­body who might re­mem­ber the old mills and how they op­er­ated, or how they were con­structed, and says that he can be reached at 4253356, or at av­erymill@hotmail. com.


An au­then­tic sec­tion from pit wheel rim given to Dwyane Dawe. He thinks it’s may be the only ex­ist­ing piece of orig­i­nal pit wheel rim from a New­found­land mill.

Dwayne Dawe is cutting and mea­sur­ing these spac­ers us­ing mod­ern tech­nol­o­gythe orig­i­nal mas­ter­builders would have had to cut and mea­sure by hand.

Dwayne Dawe hopes to have the crib­bing com­plete by Novem­ber of this year.

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