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Surrender lead smelt mill

A Scheduled Monument in Melbecks, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.396 / 54°23'45"N

Longitude: -2.0168 / 2°1'0"W

OS Eastings: 399009.297683

OS Northings: 500054.718061

OS Grid: NY990000

Mapcode National: GBR GKCL.5Y

Mapcode Global: WHB53.ZRTV

Entry Name: Surrender lead smelt mill

Scheduled Date: 20 September 1979

Last Amended: 3 September 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015411

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28297

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Melbecks

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes the remains of Surrender lead smelt mill and flue, the
adjacent fuel store and slag crushing works and parts of the water management
system. It lies in two areas of protection. One area is located on a terrace
on the north bank of Mill Gill and contains remains of the mill complex, the
other is located 300m to the north east and contains a dam associated with
the water management system. The current mill structures date to 1839 and are
built on the site of two earlier mills known as Low Mills.
The smelt mill, which is Listed Grade II, is now a roofless ruin, although
most of the walls still stand to their full height. It is built on an unusual
symmetrical plan with two ore hearths on one side balanced by an ore hearth
and a slag hearth on the other. The water wheel which powered the bellows
stood in a wheel pit in the centre of the building. A roasting hearth was
added later in a small room on the north east side of the main building. Two
arched flues led away from the rear of the building and then joined to form a
single flue extending up the fellside for 745m. Originally the flue was only
470m in length but was extended some time after 1854. The site of the original
chimney midway along the length of the flue was then converted into a
condensor to extract lead from the fumes. The flue has mostly collapsed but in
some places, including where it passes beneath the road, it is still intact as
an arched tunnel. In some sections the flue is tunnelled through the ground.
To the north east of the mill are the ruins of the fuel store. This was an
open sided rectangular building with the roof supported on solid gables and
lines of stone piers. This open aspect allowed peat, the main fuel, to be
dried. The fuel store building is Listed Grade II.
To the south of the mill adjacent to the beck are the slag crushing floors.
This is where slag, formed from the initial smelting of the ore, was broken
down in order to be re-smelted. There are the remains of a wheel pit which
would have held a water wheel to power the crushing and dressing equipment.
Water was fed into the mill complex from the higher ground to the rear and
was brought to the site along leats cut into the ground. Two major leats
led to the mill from the west and the north east. The leat from the west
tapped water from Mill Gill, several hundred metres upstream to the west.
It survives as a channel 1.5m and 0.3m deep. Only the last 150m of this
leat between the road and the north west corner of the mill are included
in the monument as the further extent to the west has been lost by
erosion of the steep beck side. The second leat on the north eastern
side, extended across the fell side for about 1km following a winding
route to meet Bleaberry Gill 50m south of Fore Gill gate. This leat
survives as a channel 1.5m wide and up to 0.5m deep. At NGR NY99190007 the
leat enters a large boggy area and its route cannot be traced until beyond
the dam a further 150m beyond this point. Although most of this leat can
still be traced on the ground beyond the dam, only the first 200m nearest
the mill are included in the monument as it is considered that a suitable
sample will be protected.
The dam is located at NGR NY99260016 and survives as an earthwork bank
constructed across a wide, natural low point in the generally undulating
fell side. It is orientated north west to south east. It curves slightly
in plan and is a total of 65m in length. At its widest point in the
middle it measures 10m wide and stands 1.5m high. At the south eastern
end it grades into the natural ground level. At the north western end
there is a more prominent edge to the dam. It is breached in the centre
to allow the continued flow of water.
The early Low Mills are known to have been in existence by 1770 as they
are shown on a map engraved at that date. However, documentary references
in 1685 also mention a mill of the Wharton family being fed by water from
Bleaberry Gill. It has been suggested that this was the original
Surrender Mill fed by the leat which still survives extending north east
from the current mill building. There were two Low Mills by 1720 when
they were leased to the Chaytor family and in 1764 were passed with the
rest of the Wharton Mines to Lord Pomfret. The first reference of
Surrender in connection with the site is in 1806 when there was a request
to let hearths to the Surrender Company. The company took on the mills
and in 1839 when the lease was renegotiated the current mill building was
built using in part stones from the old mills. Output at the mill began
to decline during the 1870s and the mill finally ceased smelting in 1880.
However, the buildings were still maintained for the next 20 years until
the mill was finally dismantled and sold off in 1902.
The surface of the road that crosses the flue is excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground and the section of flue tunnel beneath it are included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Approximately 10,000 lead industry sites are estimated to survive in England,
spanning nearly three millennia of mining history from the later Bronze Age
(c.1000 BC) until the present day, though before the Roman period it is likely
to have been on a small scale. Two hundred and fifty one lead industry sites,
representing approximately 2.5% of the estimated national archaeological
resource for the industry, have been identified as being of national
importance. This selection of nationally important monuments, compiled and
assessed through a comprehensive survey of the lead industry, is designed to
represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and
regional diversity.
Ore hearth smelt mills were introduced in the 16th century and continued to
develop until the late 19th century. They were the normal type of lead smelter
until the 18th century, when they were partially replaced by the reverberatory
smelt mill. The ore hearth itself consisted of a low open hearth, in which
lead ore was mixed with fuel (initially dried wood, later a mixture of peat
and coal). An air blast was supplied by bellows, normally operated by a
waterwheel; more sophisticated arrangements were used at some 19th century
sites. The slags from the ore hearth still contained some lead. This was
extracted by resmelting the slags at a higher temperature using charcoal or
(later) coke fuel, normally in a separate slag hearth. This was typically
within the ore hearth smelt mill, though separate slag mills are known.
Early sites were typically small and simple buildings with one or two hearths,
whereas late 18th and 19th century smelt mills were often large complexes
containing several ore and slag hearths, roasting furnaces for preparing the
ore, refining furnaces for extracting silver from the lead by a process known
as cupellation, and reducing furnaces for recovering lead from the residue or
litharge produced by cupellation, together with sometimes complex systems of
flues, condensers and chimneys for recovering lead from the fumes given off by
the various hearths and furnaces. The ore hearth smelt mill site will also
contain fuel stores and other ancillary buildings.
Ore hearth smelt mills have existed in and near all the lead mining fields of
England, though late 18th and 19th century examples were virtually confined to
the Pennines from Yorkshire northwards (and surviving evidence is strongly
concentrated in North Yorkshire). It is believed that several hundred examples
existed nationally. The sample identified as meriting protection includes: all
sites with surviving evidence of hearths; sites with intact slag tips of
importance for understanding the development of smelting technology; all 16th-
17th century sites with appreciable standing structural remains; 16th-17th
century sites with well preserved earthwork remains; and a more selective
sample of 18th and 19th century sites to include the best surviving evidence
for smelt mill structures, and flue/condenser/chimney systems.

Surrender lead smelt mill displays a wide range of well-preserved features
associated with the lead processing industry. The mill itself retains
important remains of the smelting processes and the adjacent peat store and
slag works offer important scope for the wider understanding of the complex.
Surrender mill complex preserves important archaeological remains which serve
to illustrate the history and development of the lead industry throughout the
region and the country.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Clough, , The Lead Industry of the Pennines, (1947)
Clough, , The Lead Industry of the Pennines, (1980), 119
Raistrick, A, Smelting Mills of Wensleydale and Swaledale105-107
Raistrick, A, The Smelting Mills of Wensleydale and Swaledale, (1975)

Source: Historic England

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