Replica mast wheels receive a coat of paint in preparation for display.
The wheels are
12 feet in diameter and
1000 plus pounds!
A massive moving job
WESTBROOK – With roots connected to a British mast agent in colonial days, a Westbrook family business was involved last week as two massive ox wheels, replicas of ones once used to haul pine trees for the British fleet, arrived in Portland.
A truck and crane from Hillside Lumber in Westbrook, which was founded by Roger Knight, off-loaded two wooden wheels that will eventually be exhibited at the historic Tate House. Now a museum, the home was built in 1755 in Stroudwater for George Tate, mast agent for the British Navy.
Knight said Monday the replica ox wheels weigh a half-ton each. “Those things are huge – 12 feet high,” Knight said.
In the local virgin forest during colonial times, the mark of the king was cut with axes into selected mammoth pines, identifying them for royal use only. Knight said 20 pair of oxen would have been required to haul the pine trees, which were 4 to 5 feet in diameter and 120 feet in length.
“That’s a piece of wood,” Knight said.
Knight is descended from the sister of an earlier king’s mast agent, Col. Thomas Westbrook, who died in 1744. He was the city’s namesake and is buried at the Knights’ Smiling Hill Farm.
As an agent for the king, Westbrook oversaw procurement of huge pine trees to be used as masts on wooden sailing ships. Oxen hauled the massive pine trees from surrounding forests to Stroudwater, where the trees were loaded onto British ships bound for England.
Richard Gilbane of Cape Elizabeth, a member of the board of directors at the Tate House, said that the big replica wheels had been at Story Land in New Hampshire. Gilbane said boat builder Clinton Chase is restoring the wheels, which will be displayed on the grounds at the Tate House.
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