Marrick – SE 078994

The present Low mill is in reasonable repair but no date has been found for when it was built. It is, however, shown on the 1854 O.S. sheet, when it had what looks like a short flue. Moreover, the High mill was described as beyond repair in 1861, when the Hurst Mining Company took over.96 In the absence of evidence to the contrary, therefore, it is most likely that the new Low mill was built during the term of the lease granted to Jaques & Co. in 1828. Normally, one might expect such a development during the early years of the lease but, owing to the major slump in lead prices between 1829 and 31, the date of the building was probably nearer the end of the 1830’s, when Queen’s Level was driven.

The mill was seldom used by 1858, however, and most of the ore was sold direct to smelters. This lasted until 1862 when all the ore raised was smelted to give 111.70 tons of lead. A 20 foot diameter by 39 inches waterwheel was purchased from the Lane End Mines and preparations were made to install it in the Low mill during the winter of 1862-63. The flue was also extended to the High mill, which was sealed and the old furnace room used as a settlement chamber, with the fume venting from its chimney. A slag hearth was also added to the Low mill.

Nevertheless, this new arrangement was abandoned early in 1868 and the mines went back to selling to the smelters. Five tons of pig lead was sold in 1869, but this might have been from stock because it was from the last mark (letter T) smelted in early 1868. Another five tons was sold in 1871, and 0.2 tons in 1874. The latter parcel was probably made up of lead salvaged around the mills.

Clough’s claim that pieces of lead from the Marrick mills were cast with ELLERTON, in sloping capitals on their top faces is highly unlikely. Strangely, the pig pan which he used to illustrate this point, was photographed “on the old flue at Preston under Scar”, which is at Keld Heads.

Sayer’s (Low) Mill

Marrick – SE 078994

For lead smelters, the late sixteenth century was a time of rapid change, when water powered smelt mills, with ore-hearths, swiftly replaced bale smelting. Early ore-hearths were made entirely from large stones but, with the exception of Derbyshire where stone was still used in 1729, their parts, which were still called stones, were generally made from iron by the early eighteenth century. The ore-hearth appears to have evolved on the Mendip, in Somerset, from a new type of smelting hearth, blown by a foot-blast, which was developed around 1540. The latter had evolved into the ore-hearth, with its characteristic work-stone, by the time the first of these hearths reached Derbyshire in 1571 or 72. That hearth was built by smelters from Somerset who were employed by Humfrey to re-equip his mill at Beauchief.

What was probably the first smelt mill in Swaledale was built by John Sayer, on the side of Dale Beck, where Marrick Low Mill now stands, sometime in 1574/5. Sayer’s mill was, therefore, contemporaneous with the very beginning of the change from bole smelting in Derbyshire. This tends to contradict claims that ore-hearth technology was simply diffused. Whatever the mechanism that spread it, however, the ore-hearth reigned supreme in Yorkshire and most of the northern Pennines for the next three hundred years.

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