Description and History of Site:-
Few visitors to this iconic tourist attraction would suspect its industrial connection with the lead mining industry.
East Malham lead smelting mill stood on the north bank of the beck at Janet's Foss immediately alongside Smelt Mill Bank and belonged to the Lambert family of nearby Calton Hall, Airton. The location of the mill was confirmed by Thomas Lister's estate map of 1786 which shows Smelt Mill Bank over which the Foss flows.
No archaeological work has been carried out on the mill site but the very limited space available to build the mill suggests that it would have been built like Lumb Clough (see NYK01647) and Buckden High smelt mills which had been excavated in the 1970's. They were 5.5m (18ft) and 12m (39.3ft) long by 4.5m (14.7ft) and 5.5m (18ft) wide respectively. A cross wall divided them into two rooms of unequal size, the largest room held the single ore hearth and the bellows in the smaller one. The chimney would be a squat 4m (13ft) above the roof line, similar to Lumb Clough and Grassington Low (see NYK02598) mills and others prior to the end of the C18th before extended flues and distant chimneys became the norm.
A waterwheel alongside drove all of these mills, Lambert's mill had its water brought directly from above the nearby Foss to its wheel. Fuel would have been chopwood, timber de-barked and chopped into pieces 150 x 50mm (6 inches x 2 inches) and then stacked in a chopwood kiln to have the sap dried out over a slow fire. Built at an unknown date in the C17th by the Lambert family probably for the lead mines on Pikedaw. It was known to have been working between 1677 and 1679 whilst smelting ore from Dew Bottoms mine on the Darnbrook Manor, Malham Moor.
A clue to the mills closure period is given in October 1697 when John Lambert leased the Darnbrook mines for 21 years from Viscount Lonsdale of Westmorland. The duty payable was set as ''every tenth dish of ore free from all charges'' whereas if Lambert's mill had still been working duty would surely have been paid in smelted lead. Nonetheless John Lambert's death in early 1702 almost certainly would have ensured the mills closure.
Further Reading and References:-British Mining Number 97, The Malham Mines, NMRS, M.C.Gill and Mike Squirrell. pp 81-82
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