HAVE you ever listened to the sounds of an empty workshop?
I mean empty as in dead, not just devoid of people - a workshop stripped clean because it will never again be used for the reason that it was built?
It's an eerie feeling, as the last to leave forest company Gunns' Lindsay Street, Launceston, timber yards last Friday found out.
It's eerie because the new, great silence is sometimes overwhelmingly when the noises of a bustling workshop are still hanging in the air like ghosts waiting for the place to wake up again.
And it is sad to see a business that always starts with enthusiasm, great promise and energy, gone.
An empty workshop is not just another failed business.
Look through the space for the human endeavour that has sustained it for so long.
And try to imagine all the people that will be left wanting by its demise _ not just the last ones to occupy the workshop but the dozens of others who once did business there.
My grandfather did not get time or just ran out of energy to completely strip the sheds that used to be home to his business.
It tested the imagination of his grandchildren as they climbed in among the boxes of old account books and ledgers stored in the rafters and the bits of discarded machinery to picture the once busy work yard.
Was it better for him that way?
I've known a man who built his business from scratch, literally, with his own hands, hammering the shelves into place, painting the walls, erecting the partitions.
After 50 years providing a livelihood for dozens of workers and their families, business for all his suppliers and trade for his customers as well as caring for his own family, he carefully demolished the workshop, plank by plank, brick by light fitting by workbench and desk until it was an empty old barn of a place again.
I wanted to cry but he said that he was glad he could pull it apart seeing that he had built it in the first place.
Another man I know left the space where his workshop had been emptier than before he took it on to fill it with noisy machinery and skilled tradesmen. Nobody would know now that it had once been the site of a thriving manufacturing plant, delighting customers and employing locals for a couple of decades.
Gunns has been part of this small Northern Tasmanian community for 141 years.
J. and T. Gunns was responsible for constructing many of the city's early buildings from smart town houses to banks, shops and other public buildings.
For many years before the company insisted on pushing ahead with its controversial Bell Bay pulp mill project, it was one of the region's biggest employers.
Something must have been done right because many of their workers, including a good proportion of the 50 who finished up at Lindsay Street last Friday, had been with the company for 35 years or more.
Apart from the mills and timber yards, hundreds more worked for the company's subcontractors, carting to the chip mills and in the plantations and forests.
Then there were the suppliers for the former timber giant, many kept in business by the size of the orders.
There are farmers who finally saw a way of raising their own superannuation money by leasing part of their land to the company for plantation timber.
And the small investors who, until the pulp mill came along, saw Gunns shares as a safe investment in a local company.
With the workshops empty, it has all gone.
So to those celebrating the demise of Gunns - be careful what you wish for.