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Horse and horseman, Benachie (Bennachie?), 1914
Forestry Memories
No: 602   Contributor:   Year: 1914   Country: United Kingdom
Horse and horseman, Benachie (Bennachie?), 1914

Benachie sawmill, 1914. Unknown horseman taking logs to mill.

Photo courtesy of Norman Christie. Norman’s father, Frank moved from Fochaber to Birkhall in Deeside in 1927 as sawmiller for the estate. He was there from 1927 until 1937. He then moved to Balmoral as sawmiller working on a water driven mill.

Abbie Gordon, Banchory, remembers that the FC leased Altcailleoch (spelling) in the 1930s which would have included Birkhall. The FC did operate a sawmill there and a shed is still on site. The area was returned to the estate in the early 1970s.

This horse is built like a Suffolk Punch draught horse, though its colour would be too dark for that breed. Both it's body length and hoof size, however, seem to indicate a Clydesdale, the usual breed for this task. Can any horse experts give their views?

Bennachie covers quite a large area and the exact location of this mill at Oyne is unknown. Mills were very portable in the early days and dismantled and set up where ever larger areas of timber were being felled. It was usually easier to take the mill to the timber than the other way round. Abbie Gordon, Banchory, mentions the fact that his great grandparents were married in 1876 at Bennachie Sawmill, Keig and that his great grandfather was a labourer who may have worked in the mill.

Does anyone have any other stories or ideas about the possible locations of the Benachie or Bennachie Saw Mill (also see picture no 599).
Picture added on 30 June 2010
add commentComments:
There was a waterdriven sawmill at Keig on Castle Forbes Estate, Whithouse, Alford. Not sure of the year they changed to diesel power but I worked there in the early 1980's. The mill is near the entrance to the Castle and close to the River Don and half a mile from the village of Keig, could this be where the Abbie Grodon's Great grandparents married in 1876? The log deck in the 1980's was at groundlevel similar to that in the photograph

Added by Neil Stewart on 27 August 2010.
The water driven sawmill at Balmoral is still there. The water is piped to a turbine in the sawmill building to drive the mill rack bench. A few years ago this turbine was overhauled by the same company that built it 110 years earlier.
At the same time the turbine was coupled to a generator as a contribution to Green Power.
Added by Ian Cameron, Abergairn.Ballater. 26 November 2011.

Added by Barytesmining@btconnect.com on 26 November 2011.
My god that is a unusually well kept forestry horse.

Added by Leslie Phillip on 08 April 2016.
Note the proud stance of the horseman, and the leather nickie tams in the right place just below the knee. (the horse looks like the rarer Persian breed)?

Added by Leslie Phillip on 10 April 2016.
That is a bonny horse, short coupled, with a barrel chest and strong hind-quarters, it would just need to 'lean into' the load to get it moving. The harness appears to be show harness, rather than working harness. The hames and collar crest wouldn't last 2 minutes in the wood. The breed would appear to be a hybrid between a Clydesdale and a Percheron. The markings appear to be those of the Clydesdale, whilst the reduced 'feather' above the hoof and the short coupled 'barrel' body appear to have been given by the Percheron parent. Originally, Percherons were used in Northern France and the Benelux countries where the cultivation of the heavy clay land requires a short coupled 'barrel' body for power and no feathers at the feet, so that they stay clean on the heavy soil. Useful attributes when breeding timber horses. However, this beast is more of a "clearfell" than a "thinning" beast!

Added by Bill Rayner on 11 April 2016.
Now that you have explained in detail I think you are right, and your spelling of the word Percheron is correct unlike my attempt.

Added by Leslie Phillip on 11 April 2016.
A nicely turned out Horse, probably used on mixed duties on an estate or owned by a tenant farmer.

A likely estate in the area would be the Pittodrie estate, a Google search shows Sawmill remains on the estate.

The “proud stance of the horseman” is probably because he was told to keep still for the Camera.


Added by Jimmy Thain on 14 April 2016.
The majority of horsemen back then had pride in the horse's turn out. "Proud stance'' is a figure of speech.

Added by Leslie Phillip on 15 April 2016.
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United Kingdom

Benmore Forestry School Students circa 1933Benmore Forestry School Students circa 1933Dobbin and colleagues, Glenkindie, 1942Benachie Sawmill Squad, 1914Sam Harrison at Benmore CollegeSam Harrison and Benmore colleagues on Kilmun HillSam Harrison at Benmore Forestry School 1962Ken McRae at Bonchester BridgeArdentinny Team, Glen Finart AreaVIDEO - Alan McDonald at Auchterawe
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