The Sawdust Stoves
During the Second World War saw-dust was used as
a fuel for heating water and cooking on a simply designed stove.
The sawdust was readily obtained from the sawmill in the Mill
Lane (at the back of the present Millrace Hotel) and from a
saw-mill at Hall-Dare’s, for 2d. a sackfull. The sacks of
sawdust could be collected and brought home on hand-trucks, or
several bagfulls in a donkey-cart — with or without the donkey!
The stove consisted of an empty ten-gallon
oil-drum or similar container. A hole, about two inches in
diameter, would be made in the centre of the bottom of the drum.
A brush handle would be held vertically in the centre of the
drum while the sawdust would be packed firmly into the drum.
When it was full to the top the broom handle would be gently
removed, leaving a hole right down through the packed sawdust to
the hole in the bottom of the drum.
The drum would be placed on two bricks or cement
blocks, and newspapers would be lit underneath. The sawdust
would ignite up through the hole left by the broom handle, and
would continue to burn all round. Two iron bars would be placed
on top of the drum and a kettle or saucepan would stand on them,
over the hole in the burning sawdust. The sawdust would continue
to burn for about three or four hours or more, boiling water and
At first the ‘stove’ was used in the open air,
but soon it was understood that it could be place in a fireplace
in the kitchen if it were an open fireplace or a hearth large
enough to accommodate the stove under the chimney opening.
This proved to be a very cheap and efficient method of cooking
during the ‘Emergency’.