Grinton Smelt Mill MYD4538 (c) YDNPA, 2023
The smelt mill was integral to the process of mining lead in the Yorkshire Dales. Transporting the heavy lead ore a long distance was usually uneconomic, so many mining companies built smelt mills close to their mines. Here at Grinton, the first smelt mill was built in the early 1700s. Between 1820-22 it was rebuilt and the flue was extended up onto Sharrow Hill. Longer flues allowed lead to be reclaimed from the waste gases given off from the furnaces. Smelting here ceased in December 1895.
Unlike other lead smelt mills in the Yorkshire Dales, this building retains its roof and some of the wooden fittings inside. It survives because it was used as a sheep dip in the twentieth century. A six metre diameter waterwheel beside the north wall of the bellows room was fed by an overhead wooden trough or ‘launder’. The wheel powered a large set of bellows which blew air to the back of the three furnaces. The wheel has been scrapped, but the bellows frame and part of the launder survive.
The furnace room had two ore hearths and one slag hearth, all set into arched alcoves. The slag hearth part has been altered, and its original layout is unclear. The flue above the three hearths ran to a now demolished chimney on Sharrow Hill. Peat cut from the moors was burned in the hearths and the open-sided peat store can be seen beyond the mill.
We have placed two interpretation panels inside the building with reconstruction drawings of the mill in its final phase of use.
Grinton smelt mill MYD4538 (c) YDNPA, 2023