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May 18, 2018: Blakethwaite Lead Mine, North Yorkshire


From 1806, when Thomas Chippindale & Co. leased the Blakethwaite mine at Gunnerside Gill, Swaledale, until May 1821, when the Blakethwaite mill began smelting, ore from this mine was mainly smelted at Lownathwaite mill.  In the summer of 1820, the two mills were linked by an extension of the Jagger road which runs to Lownathwaite from Gunnerside.

Blakethwaite Lead Mine1

The date of closure is problematic. For example, Jennings, quoting a letter from J.R. Tomlin to G.W. Denys, wrote that the AD Lead Company (1875-80) at first smelted at Blakethwaite mill, but closed it around 1878 because it was in bad repair and inefficient. Clough and Raistrick favour Jennings’ suggested date. The Mining Journal, however, credits the Company as working the Blakethwaite mill in 1882. Nevertheless, the mill is listed, in the AD Proprietors’ accounts, as the High Mill or Mills from 1830 until July 1868, when the last lead was recorded.

Blakethwaite Lead Mine2

Sir George Denys used this mill for smelting ore from mines at Lownathwaite and Swinnergill after 1861, when the Blakethwaite Company gave up. Between May and September 1864, the flue was extended from the original chimney, which stood on the top of the steep hill behind the mill, by some 350 feet to a new chimney. Another interesting feature of this mill was a “Peat Slide”  which ran about 200 feet west of the flue and almost parallel to it. This was probably a wooden chute, down which peat was sent to the mill.

Blakethwaite Lead Mine4
The AD Lead Mining Company Ltd smelted ore from its mines on the west side of Gunnerside Gill at this mill from 1873 until early 1878, when it transferred all smelting to its Surrender Mill.
Blakethwaite Lead Mine5

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For a list of Ian Cook's photography and TravelGumbo contributions, please click on this link


Images (5)
  • Blakethwaite Lead Mine1
  • Blakethwaite Lead Mine2
  • Blakethwaite Lead Mine3
  • Blakethwaite Lead Mine4
  • Blakethwaite Lead Mine5

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