Barton's Mill

Present Use
Open Prison (Now vanant land 2008). The mill closed in 1939. “Because the demand for timber was low, and Miller’s felt that their other mills could supply the market”. (Timber Mills of theDarling Range). However people interviewed all said that it was because the fellers had to go 25 miles out for timber, and it was too far.

Present Owner
Department of Corrections

??? kilometers from Kalamunda. Forest Department map reference AY 70, Mundaring 80.
Alexander Barton started in 1902 at Carilla, 2 miles from Pickering Brook, used up nearby timber, and then found that he had to go too far out, so he moved the mill to No.4 Mill, a “spot mill”, about 2 miles east of the original site. This was closed at his death (see below), and it was moved by Millars to its final location ??? kilometers from Kalamunda. The prison was built just above the original mill site. (“Timber mills of theDarling Range”).
A “spot mill” was where logs on the landing were given one flat side with a broad axe, so that they would not roll when later passing through the saw.

Original Construction
It followed the usual mill pattern, with open sides, a tin roof which sloped, supported by poles, and was probably about 60ft x 100ft. The mill was burnt in 1924, and rebuilt by Millar’s. When the mill closed, the timber houses were sold to settlers and orchardists, and Messrs. Cook’s and Thompson’s (managers) houses are still in use. (The Forests Department also had houses, as they maintained a post there.
Houses were rough weatherboard, with a front verandah, with settler’s chimney of wood, and there were also slab huts, with camp ovens. Stores were made of corrugated iron. There were probably about 30 houses, with a community of “a couple of hundred”. (Mr. Ray Owen). Mills were usually on a creek.

The Prisons Department added standard offices, departmental houses, and a hall, on which there was a painting by a prisoner, which it was hoping to keep (1967)

Alexander Barton
“He was a fine looking man, about 5ft. 8ins. and square built,” (Mr.Catchpole). He may have come from the Eastern States. His wife, Nee Osborne, came fromDaylesford, Victoria. He died from straining his heart, using a new type of saw, in Mrs. Hewison’s arms, in 1907. (Mrs. Hewison was Mrs. Ray Owen’s sister Alice, born about the same time, was to be called Alexander after Mr. Barton, had she been a boy.) The Barton’s had 3 children – Ken, who went to Perth Modern School, and then in the Surveyor-General’s Department, Lois, now deceased, and Jessie, now Lady Massie, who lives in the U.K. Mrs. Barton later married William Thomas, and had three other children, Will, Ron and Gwen, and the family now farm at Korbel. Mr. Hewison, who was Alexander Barton’s friend and tally-clerk, and was Mrs. Ray Owen’s father, influenced Mr. Thomas to take up the mill, which was later sold to Millar’s.

Transport and Communications
Transport to and from the mill was by rail, using company locomotives, of which details are attached. In the 1930’s, Dave Anderson ran a char-a-banc service three days a week to Perth from Barton’s Mill, via Lesmurdie. (There is a photograph of this type of vehicle in the Kalamunda Museum, with each bench having a separate door.) There was no shop. The papers were taken from Pickering Brook on the loco. The mail went to and from Pickering Brook Post Office, and was sorted there, it went by loco too. (Mrs. Hewison, Mrs. Owen’s mother, was Postmistress; she hailed from the Orknet Islands in Scotland.) Later there was a contract for papers and letters to go by horse and cart. There was no public telephone, nor any telephone to private houses; the only instrument was at the mill office to the Post Office, and it was used for all official messages, at all hours of the night or day. It was a privilege to be allowed to use this phone. Telegrams were sent to the Pickering Brook Post Office, and telephoned from there.

Mr. Anderson’s father, George, was the main log-hauler. There was usually 6 horses to a team, but 12 were used for heavy going. They hauled the two miles to the landing, where the loco’s picked them up. The horses were Clydesdales imported from the Eastern States. They had harness, but no reins; the hauler would stand 50ft off, and “talk them”; “Gee-off” meant “stop”. They could be heard 4 miles away! (Mr.A.Anderson) Tractors were brought in the 1930’s.

There was a primary school, run by the Education Department. Teachers were M. Bill Passmore, Mr. George H. Fisher and Mr. McShane, “who used to cane a lot. He would leave the children to collect the mail when the loco came in, and they would run riot”. (Mrs. Owen). The teacher depended on the number of children.
The school was the centre of social life, and was where dances were held. It had a porch, and the schoolmaster lived behind the school. For the dances there would be a piano accordion. Sammy Isaacs and Biddy Mckee, who were natives, did a Nigger Minstrel act, Sammy Isaac, by virtue of being descended from the Sammy Isaacs who helped Grace Bussell in the Wreck of the “Georgette” and had citizen rights, and was treated as, and behaved like, a gentleman. (Mr. & Mrs. Owen) His father, Harry Isaacs, was a teamster at Smailes Mill.


Attached are two photographs of locomotives. The one of the “Coates” was taken in 1913, at the “bush landing at Jean Norris’ place”, which was on the Barton’s Mill line, just over the road from the present Carilla Townsite, and about 1/4 mile west of Carilla State School. (Mr. Ray Owen). Those shown are Harry Catchpole, in front of the smoke-stack, Levi Wallis against the log, and Arthur Jones at the engine. The Jones family can just be seen to the right of the picture, I.E. Ray Jones, who later entered Parliment, Olive Jones and a dog.
Once a year, all the locos, went to Yarloop, presumably for maintenance and certification. When permission was given by the Government to run the locos over Government railways, a Government pilot became necessary. The locos on the run were changed round quite often. Levi Wallis and Mick Kelly were running guards, whose job was to run along the train to the brake wagon at the back and put that brake on. The old railway crosses Mr. Sala Tenna’s property near McKenzie’s Mill. At Ellery’s, past Carilla, there was a dam with water for the trains, (likeLake Leschnaultia.) The locos were called after the directors of the company, except for the “Samson”. Another was the “Noyes”. There is Coates Siding, also called after the director, between Woorooloo and Baker’s Hill. There was a loco with a vertical boiler, known as the “Coffee Pot”, whose driver was Tommy Robinson. (Mr. Ray Owen)


M. Alf Cook
He was at school at Canning Mills, and was later the mill manager at Barton’s Mill. (Previous managers were A.C. Munro and Ernie Thompson). He was rather imperious, and would wait outside the Pickering Brook Post Office, hooting the car horn for attention. I understand that he is still living, at46 Smythe Street, Rockingham, next door to his brother-in-law, Mr. Harry Browne at No.48. There is a biography of Mr. Cook in “Mills and Men in Western Australia”, written for the “Western Mail”, in 1939, by W.C. Thomas, once an industrial officer for Millar’s. (Mr. Len Purcell.)

Mr. George Anderson
He was a log hauler, who married Emily Brown. (Mr. Brown was very short and his wife very tall, and they had nine children). The Anderson’s son, Arthur, went to school at Barton’s Mill; his uncle ran a mill on a contract basis to Millar’s, and two of his aunts, who died as children, were buried in the bush, one behind Barton’s Mill and the other at Canning; one grave fenced. (Mr. Anderson) Mrs. George Anderson was very particular, and was known by various children as “Aunt Fuss”.

( It has come to light since this was written that Emily Brown’s parents, John & Clara Brown, actually had 12 children but two are deceased. They were: Emily, Susie, Mary, Clara, Olive, Elsie, Joe, Walter, Ernie, Frank, and Lucie (dec.) and a girl unnamed (dec.) Thanks to Pam Beard and her Sister)

Mrs. Bruce and Mrs. Mortimer
They kept a bush boarding house; the men paid board, and were fed good, filing food, but slept in their own huts. ( Mrs. Owen)

Mr. Crabb
As a young Man, he took his cutting cart with fresh meat out to Barton’s Mill, and would get up at 3a.m. to dress and kill, in the 1930’s. (Mr. D. Crabb)

Claude French
He was fireman on the train. French’s Orchard was behind the Carilla School, at French’s Hill.

Louis Zola
He was the Italian blacksmith, and was such an expert in his trade that he was appointed by head office, and could therefore not be sacked by the manager; he was known as a “grog artist”, because he dispensed his home-made Italian wine. (The Canning Mills Hotel was delicensed in 1921, after a referendum on the temperance issue, which cut down the number of hotels; it was a sort of mini- prohibition.) Lois Zola must have been a great personality, as nearly all information mentioned him.

Rev. Frew and Elms
These were two Methodist ministers who would come around “every so often”. (Mrs. Owen)

Mr. Harry Catchpole
He was originally a faller, but there was a vacancy on the loco for a fireman, in 1912, and he had previous experience with Bunning’s. He went with the A.I.F. in 1914, having already got his driver’s licence. He was with the 44th. Bn. and Millar’s having guaranteed jobs for ex-servicemen, he became the loco driver at Barton’s Mill. He is now unfortunately almost totally blind and lives at 87 West Parade, East Perth; his wife is Mrs. Owen’s sister.

Mr. & Mrs. Charlie Liebow
Mr. Liebow was of German extraction, and was nicknamed “Billy Bung”, because he was licensee of the Canning Mills Hotel. His wife, Bertha,suffered from a stomach tumour, and was therefore very stout. Whenever anybody was in trouble, she was called on to help, and even invaded a hut at Smailes Mill, and cut short shoulder-length hair on one man, and found blow-flies in the beard of another. She had two sisters, Julia (Ryan), and Mary. Everyone spoke very kindly of both of the Liebow’s

Mr. Hunter
Sam Hunter’s father was an ostler, and supplied horses for whims.

Whenever there was any sort of trouble , a whistle would be blown, and everyone turned out on horseback.
Fallers wore collarless grey flannel shirts, like Kalgoorlie miners, in which they could get a good swing.


December 9th 1958

Built in 1893 by Hudswell Clarke. Makers No. 407. Side tanks
Wheels; 2 – 6 – 2

Available records do not show where the engine first saw service, but it can be safely assumed that it was at Canning Mills.
The Canning Jarrah Timber Company Ltd. was formed in Melbourne in 1891. Among the directors were John Coates and Edward Noyes. Both gave their names to locomotives. This company was amalgamated with other companies in 1902, to form Millar’s Karri and Jarrah Coy., now Millar’s Timber and Trading Coy. Ltd.
The “Coates” was running on the Yarloop timber station in 1904, in which year a tender was attached. 1911 saw it at Karridale, whence it was transported by sea, via Bunbury. A “G” class engine named “Kalgoorlie”, (still in traffic at Yarloop) was sent to Karridale by similar means, the Karridale – Augusta rail system apparently not being connected to the State Government system at that time.
“Coates” was back at Canning in 1914, and then went to Wilgarrup and Jardanum (Jardee), in Manjimup area. Jarrahwood saw the loco around about 1926, and it saw odd brief service at other mills, some of which are non-existent.
In 1927, the side tanks were cut down and cast iron weights were put in to serve as ballast. Sister locos, “Noyes” and “Morgan” were similarly treated, but a third, named “Mayo”, carried side tanks till broken up early this year.
The year 1928 saw “Coates” back on the Canning Timber station . it then being stationed at Pickering Brook. It served there on log line traffic till about 1940, when it came to Yarloop, following closure of the mill. For some years, it was used regularly as yard shunter at Yarloop. Last duty allotted to the engine was at Pickering Brook. This was in 1943, when it was used for pulling up the old lines. After long idleness in Yarloop, the engine was broken up, together with its three sister locos., early in 1958. Only relic left is the boiler which was saved from the scrap iron market, and now stands in the yard at Yarloop. Throughout its life, repair work on “Coates” was carried out at Jarrahdale or Yarloop.

L. J. Purcell,
Millar’s Timber & Trading

Mr. Purcell was the Insurance Officer for Millar’s Co.


Sources of information on Barton’s Mill;
Mr. & Mrs. R. Owen, Mr. H. Catchpole, Mr. D. Crabb, Mr. A. Anderson, Mr. L. Purcell, “50 Years in Forestry in W. Australia”, “A History of the Timber Industry of W. A.” – Thesis by J. R. Robertson, “Timber Mills of the Darling Range”, Mr. & Mrs. W. Stevens, late of Smailes Mill.