Braithwaite or Burton Lead Smelting Mill MYD4476 (c) YDNPA, 2023
The chimney and small length of flue that lie beside the road up Walden valley are all that survives of a small lead smelt mill. There may have been a smelt mill on the site as early as 1657. Fumes from the mill were blamed for killing farm animals in nearby fields and in 1747 some local boys were encouraged to set the mill on fire. Three local graziers were actually accused of breaking a window in the mill and helping one of the boys inside to set the fire. The mill in some form or another seems to have survived and worked until the 1870s.
Many early smelt mills were built like this one with short horizontal flues linked to a chimney. Larger nineteenth century mills had much more complex flue systems which could be several miles long. These long flues took the poisonous fumes away from workers in the mills. They also allowed the ‘fumes’ to cool and vapourised lead to settle onto the flue sides where it could be recovered.
Location From the centre of West Burton village take the narrow road south signposted Walden only. After 400m there is a Y-junction. Bear left, signposted Walden South only. 160 m after the bridge at the bottom of the valley there is a roughly metalled bridleway on the right, signposted Carlton. Stop here and the smelt mill chimney can be seen just in front of you.
Public Transport Details Nearest village: West Burton. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.
Accessibility The chimney can be easily seen from the roadside, the surrounding ground surface is rough.