Stonebeck Down – SE 114663
This mill was at the NW end of Merryfield Plantation, and water for its bellows wheel came from a reservoir, which can still be traced, immediately to the west. It served the Merryfield Mines, which were revitalised when Yorke’s and Storey’s Levels were begun in 1752 and c1785 respectively. The Craven Cross Mine, in Appletreewick, also proved rich in the 1780s.
It is not known when the mill was built, and Thomas Jeffery’s 1773 map shows no mills on Ashfold Beck, even though at least one was working. In 1815, however, John Yorke gave the new lessees of the Old Merryfield mines permission for the occasional use of the upper end of the old smelt mill upon the commons and wastes within the Manor of Ramsgill. That was clearly the Merryfield Mill and by 1849, when the first edition of the Ordnance Survey 1/10560 sheet was surveyed, it was in ruins. The same lease also refers to a new smelt mill and stipulates that the lessees should keep it in perfect working order and repair. This can only have been what became Heathfield Old Mill.
It is impossible to date the building of Merryfield Mill reliably but, contrary to the date of 1818, given in British Mining No.21, it was clearly pre-19th century. Moreover, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is likely that it was built to smelt ore from the adjoining mine around the middle of the 18th century.
Further information and references can be found in:
- Gill, M.C. Yorkshire Smelting Mills Part 2, Northern Mine Research Society Memoirs 1993, British Mining No 48, pp 132-151