Tom Polatch

This fascinating model by Tom Polatch, shown at Bristol in 2016, is a 1:10 scale version of a bandsaw made in around 1870 by John Mac Dowell in Johnstone, Scotland. It was exported to Canada and could handle logs up to 40’ long and 6’ diameter. It was eventually brought back to Falmouth Docks on a ship loaded with scrap metal and worked there until the 1990s.

Mac Dowell began his career as an apprentice mechanic in a cotton mill and set up his own business in 1823. He patented the saw frame in 1834, and died in 1857. James Barr who had been an apprentice with Mac Dowell took over the business and ran it with trustees and Mac Dowell’s two sons.

By 1876 the firm was making 200 machines a year, mainly for export. Barr died in 1908. The business ran until 1932 when William White & Sons took it over and made woodworking machinery until it closed in 1975.