West Mill, Askrigg MYD34289 (c) YDNPA, 2023
An early to mid-19th century watermill with an overshot waterwheel formerly fed by an elevated zinc pentrough supported on stone piers. It was originally a corn mill and a corn drying kiln survives on the ground floor. It then became a saw mill run by William Handley Burton (1853-1937) who specialised in making hay rakes. He decided to use the water supply for the mill, Mill Gill Force, to generate electricity. By 1909 he was offering to light Askrigg’s streets although it took a year for the Parish Council to agree. By 1910 he had installed a dam above Mill Gill Force and was piping water to a power house containing a Gilkes Vortex Special turbine. It produced enough power to light the mill and provide street and house lighting in Askrigg. Burton and his sons formed the Askrigg Electric Lighting Company and installed hydroelectric schemes around the Dales. The company continued until the National Grid arrived in Askrigg in 1949. Burton’s son Ernest and his nephew William both ended up working for the nationalised industry.
Hartley, M & Ingilby, J (1953) Yorkshire Village. London: J M Dent & Sons
Hay, T T (2000) ‘Hydroelectricity Generation in the Yorkshire Dales’ The Cleveland Industrial Archaeologist. No 26 pp35-53
Location From Askrigg square go down road on north side of church. Keep going until reach end of the tarmac. Mill Lane continues as a track. Just beyond that point (a few metres) there is a gated squeeze stile on the north side of the track; the finger post says "Mill Gill Force". Once through the stile you are on a paved footpath. At the far end you will pass through a second squeeze stile with a gate. You are now at the mill, however, as it is private property you won't be able to go round the other side though you do get a good view of the pentrough.
Public Transport Details Nearest town/village: Askrigg. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.
Accessibility Two squeeze stiles. The path has raised tree roots immediately after the second and some care is required on the short descent.