Fountains Fell coke oven MYD25621 (c) YDNPAy, 2023
Coke was much lighter to transport than coal and had fewer impurities which would affect the quality of any metal smelted using it as fuel so it was much in demand in the dales. This unusual beehive coke oven survives high up on Fountains Fell in a coalmining field that was founded around 1807 by Lord Ribblesdale. It was built to provide fuel for the Malham calamine industry but after 1815 the coke was also used for smelting lead on Malham Moor. The oven is built of roughly coursed sandstone rubble and measures about 4 metres square and 2 metres at its highest. Inside, the oven consists of a hemispherical dome though now the top had subsided. This dome gives it the name ‘beehive’. The entrance to the oven is formed by an arched opening. A complex of trackways survives throughout the colliery connecting the shafts to the coke oven and providing access to the mine. It is not clear how long the oven and colliery remained in use although in 1830, work was still being undertaken.
View of Fountains Fell coke oven MYD25621 (c) YDNPA, 2023
White, Robert (2002) The Yorkshire Dales. A Landscape Through Time. Ilkley: Great Northern Books
Location 4 miles from Malham, on Malham Arncliffe Road follow Pennine Way signs north at Tennant Gill Farm for 3 miles. After entering National Trust estate on summit, take track west for 275 metres to oven. Open mine shafts, do not leave path.
Public Transport Details Nearest town/village: Malham. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.
Accessibility Rough and muddy in places, steady climb to summit of Fountains Fell. Several step stiles.