Sawdust and Splinters: “There Be Money in Them Trees”
by David W. Shopland
Trafford Publishing

"You were wet when it rained, dry when the sun shone, and sometimes just cold, but you were always dirty."

Author Shopland presents an enlivening view of his family’s multigenerational sawmill business, which has been in operation for over two hundred years in a small English town. E. H. Shopland & Son Clevedon Sawmills was initiated by William. Initially a carpentry and building concern, it was gradually transformed into a tree-felling and board-cutting concern. Its early years involved hauling huge logs one by one with teams of horses in the rather discouraging atmosphere of an economic slump. But as the country entered the war in 1914, the company’s products were deemed necessary by the government, bringing an upgrade in prosperity as the country entered the mechanical age.

Shopland’s first son, Edmund, was determined to support his father by giving the business solid grounding, followed by Herbert, who took up the banner and deepened the company’s reach, influence, and success. Herbert’s son David, the book’s narrator, continued the endeavor, which has expanded with the times and technologies. The author feels sure that his own son James will maintain the operation as dynamically as his forebears.

Shopland, who served twenty-five years in the military and forty in Clevedon's local government, has arrayed this interesting family and industrial history with vintage photographs, descriptions of the sorts of milling machines used in prior years, an enjoyable dose of humor, and his clear wish that the family’s shared efforts will demonstrate the resolve and perseverance of what he likes to call “typical” folk. Added to their work six days of the week (Sundays being reserved for the Sabbath) were the necessities of maintaining a garden, advertising the business, and obeying many intricate and continually changing government regulations. Shopland’s wish, fully articulated and achieved here, is to remind readers of the energy and vision of bygone times, with an eye always to an equally fruitful future.

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