Whashton – NZ 144055

This was near Copper Mill Bridge, on Sturdy House Lane, and is in the manor of Ravensworth, which Sir Thomas Wharton bought from Leonard Robinson in April 1675. Within days of his purchase, Wharton leased the lead and coal mines in the liberties of Feldom, Whashton, Applegarth, Thorpe and Thorpe Edge, all in the manor of Ravens worth, to Swale and Barker for thirteen years. The lessors formed a partnership with a joint stock; which in the case of the company they formed to work the mines leased from Lord Wharton, in Muker, Nateby and Wharton was £300. After working for ten years, Philip Swale remarked that the mines in Thomas Wharton’s estates “have lost much money in tryall and given yet no encouragement” and that the joint stock was reduced to around £30.

What little ore was raised at the above trials was smelted at the Whashton mill but, in May 1685, soon after Thomas Wharton’s death, Swale advised Lord Wharton that “what benefit it (the mill) made, it was by thy favour, for there was no oare but from thy work to imploy it, and without imploy it was worth nothing, but would require charge to keepe it in repayre.”

The location of Thomas Wharton’s mill is confirmed by a list of Wharton’s tennants, made in 1686, which records that “There is a peece of bad way in the pasture neare the smelt mill cald the Spring Pasture in Robert Reeveley’s farming …”. The same document also tells us that Reeveley’s farm was in Whashton, where three other tennants were smelters. The latter men may, however, just as easily have worked at Gilling mill.

Smelting had been delayed by lack of water in July 1685, but a slag-hearth was being prepared to smelt ” … the quantity of slag about the mill, which must be smelted there because the oare hath beene smelted there that afforded that slag, and made Sir Thomas more profit then if the slag had beene smelted in his time would have beene …”.

Nevertheless, the mill was unviable because it relied on distant mines, which increasingly had their own mills. In the early eighteenth century, however, it was used for smelting copper ore from a vein in Feldom and, in June 1728, Matthew Blackburne of Gales, in Kirkby Ravensworth, blacksmith, was indicted with breaking into the copper smelting mill at Whashton belonging to John Ward and John Appleby and stealing 4 iron bars worth 11d. The mill probably closed soon afterwards.

Further information and references can be found in:
Gill, M.C. Yorkshire Smelting Mills Part 1, Northern Mine Research Society Memoirs 1992, British Mining No 45, pp 111-150

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