Rye at Work 1950s


Thomas Hinds & Sons (Rye) Ltd.

by  D.  G.  Southerden

In Rye and district the name of Hinds is synonymous with the word “Timber”. For more than a century this family business, now under the name of Thomas Hinds & Sons (Rye) Ltd., has been importing and selling softwood to the builders and other users of timber in this area.

Founded in 1852 by the present Mr. A. T. Hinds’ grandfather, the firm’s premises are situated on the Strand Quay, an ideal position for the importation of timber by boat direct from Sweden and Finland.

Time has seen many changes. Previous to the Second World War, every stick of wood was carried on men’s shoulders from the hold of the boat, across the road and into the warehouses or on to the stacks in the yard. Now the timber is taken out of the ship’s hold by hoist in bulk, placed on a trolley and drawn into the yard by a small tractor.

Not all the timber came by boat. A “Bill of Lading” would arrive at Rye Station by rail from the Surrey Commercial Docks; there it was loaded by hand from the trucks on to a horse and cart, brought to the Yard and unloaded on to the stacks. This was a slow process compared with the transport used today, for a fleet of large lorries can load direct from the ship in the docks and convey it to the yard in a few hours.

The conversion of the deals and planks by circular saws has taken place for many years in the firm’s mill. Previously the benches were hand fed but nowadays much of the hard work of the sawyer has been overcome by up-to-date saw benches with automatic feeds.

In the years between the wars the mill was enlarged and machines were installed to plane the timber and to manufacture all kinds of mouldings. In 1933 a Joinery Department was added so that not only is timber sold in the raw state but the manufacture of all types of house joinery—windows, doors, staircases, etc., is carried on. Various machines which are necessary to a Joinery Workshop were added, they being placed in a building previously used for storing planed goods.

All machinery is driven by electricity. The first saw benches relied on a gas engine to supply the power. This was later replaced by a Tangye oil engine but the coming of electricity swept away all the belts and shafting, each machine having its own motor.

Over the years many local people have been employed in this timber business, both skilled and unskilled. Sawyers, wood machinists, joiners and yard hands have supplied and still supplying the needs of builders, farmers, etc. in the area and casual labour is taken on when the cargoes have to be unloaded.

Timber Boat at The Strand c1950
Timber Boat at The Strand c1950

The arrival of a boat with timber for ‘Hinds Timber Yard’ has always been an event of interest to many Ryers.

Rye’s Own January 1968

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