Starbotton Cupola Mill 1965 - Copyright © NMRS Records

Starbotton Cupola Mill 1965 – Copyright © NMRS Records

Starbotton – SD 955750

According to Dr Raistrick, the Starbotton mill had one ore-hearth and a slag-hearth, and smelted from 1815 to 1877. An exhaustive search of the Duchy of Devonshire’s archives, by the present writer, has, however, found nothing to support this view and much to contradict it.

After the closure of the Birks Mill in 1814, all the ore from Buckden and Starbotton was smelted at Grassington Cupola until 1843, when the Starbotton Smelting Company built its mill at Starbotton. This mill had a reverberatory furnace and a slag-hearth and it smelted ore mostly from the Buckden and Starbotton Gavel mines. It did not work continuously, having an annual smelting regime lasting about two months between late October and May in most years. The last recorded smelting was done in early June 1862.

The Starbotton mill is unique amongst the southern area’s mills because it was built and run by a private smelting company, rather than the Mineral Lord or a mining company. This was more the rule in Derbyshire. Moreover, it was only the fourth, and last, Yorkshire lead mill which relied solely on cupola furnaces. Apart from the waterwheel pit, which is built into the side of the stream, on a bend just below a waterfall, little remains at the mill. According to the Ordnance Survey, it was about 6 metres by 17 metres and had an enclosure of 14 metres by 46 metres.

The flue, which is about 600 mm square in cross-section, runs up the side of the gill and, until soon after 1857, terminated at a chimney on the edge of the gill, near Starbotton Cam Road, about 106 metres from the mill. The flue was then extended and now runs for some 330 metres to a chimney in Cam Pasture, overlooking the gill.

The chimney is square in plan and steps in from 4.3 metres square at the base, to 3.6 metres in the middle, to 3.4 metres at the top. It was about 8 metres high and is surrounded by a small, walled enclosure. The inside of the chimney is circular and tapers from 1.8 to 0.6 metres diameter.

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