Kettlewell – SD 975728


Kettlewell Smelt Mill, pre 1942

This was the longest lived smelting site in Yorkshire, having worked for over 218 years. The first mill was built by the Trust Lords of Kettlewell before 1669.48 By 1831, the mill was in a poor state and it was resolved to build a flue. Clough suggests that nothing was done, but it is likely that the flue, which terminated at a chimney near the enclosure wall about 20 metres behind the mill, was built then.

The mill was inefficient and was giving further problems with pollution by 1860, when the Trust Lords proposed to modernise it and build a much longer flue. A combined turf house and office was built onto the north end of the mill in 1862, but it was not until 1868 that a new slag-hearth and roasting furnace, similar to those used at the Cobscar mill, were built by Messrs Brown of Low Row. The flue was also extended at this time, but the original plan, to extend it to the entrance of Cam Level and build a chimney on the top of Old Gin Shaft, was not carried out. Instead, the flue ran for 680 metres to a chimney alongside the Top Mere Road.

Contrary to Clough’s suggestion, however, the mill’s single ore-hearth was not built in 1868 and there is no evidence that it looked like those used at Keld Heads Mill. The original hearth would have been against the partition wall, near the centre of the mill, and it was probably moved onto the back wall when the flue was built c1831. Both the ore-hearth and the slag-hearth were blown by a waterwheel-powered fan. The roasting furnace was a small cupola, worked from one side only, like that at the Surrender Mill in Swaledale. Unlike the latter, however, which had its own vertical chimney, the fumes were ducted into the flue system.

The mill closed in 1887, but was kept in good condition until 1942, when it was blown up by the army.50 The chimney, however, was blown down by a gale in February 1893, when the local newspaper reported that it had been built by Mr Airey, of Preston Under Scar, about 25 years before.

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