Heritage devotees Val and John Jessop decide to buy and reassemble two old buildings - an old ghost town cottage and an old sawmill. What could be more difficult than that? (Season Final)
So we get to the final episode of series 3. John is from England via Africa and Val a Mittagong local with connections to the shale oil mining town of Joadja. They have already done a big renovation / extension, of an old school and church elsewhere. Now they plan another passion project to recreate a cute cottage with a fancy modern bit out the back.
Their business, Cotswold Furniture Collection, isn't mentioned in the show but the end result of their involvement with the show looks like the sort of interior decorating magazine shoot that would be perfect advertising.
Their plan is to reassemble a house and sawmill shed from "flat pack" components. The house was moved from Joadja to Mittagong and at some stage was dismantled and the parts stacked in Willie Hall's salvage yard.
Willie is the secret weapon in their quest for a unique house - a particularly attuned builder, preserver of old stuff, and son of Peter Hall, the architect who rescued the Opera House. Hall is calm, quietly spoken and competent in all sorts of skills. He is the perfect foil to the fake drama of reality TV. He is actually real.
The sawmill was that of Alex S Blatch & Sons. It was still operating until 1998 when it had to close, supposedly because of the NSW ban on old growth logging according to one of the sons Graeme (SMH June 17, 1998). The Blatch family had offers for their "home-cut, wooden office, and corrugated iron shed from a local artist and a potter who liked the old, lived-in look,"
The sawmill was a landmark in Mittagong, and one of the last connections to the timber industry, that had for a century been the mainstay of the Southern Highlands.
But in the end it was cleared away for some drab townhouses.