COPY Thoralby Water Corn Mill - NEW RESEARCH
Until the late 19th century one of the most important places in the village would have been the corn mill because people would have needed to grind oatmeal and flour to make the oatcakes and bread that formed a major part of their diet. There is some evidence to suggest that the earliest corn mill was somewhere on Heaning Gill.
The Ordnance Survey map below, published in 1856, shows Heaning Gill, to the north-east of Thoralby. I have highlighted the stream in blue and underlined the bridge crossing the gill on Eastfield Lane, which was, and still is, named Millbeck Bridge, providing evidence that there was once a mill on Heaning Gill, which was previously known as Mill Beck. The tithe apportionment and map of Thoralby produced in 1840 named the field upstream of Millbeck Bridge on the north side of the beck as 'Mill Beck', which reinforces the probability that in earlier, probably medieval, times there was at least one mill on this beck.
The Dales saw a large influx of Norse farmers (Danes from the 9th century and Irish-Norse from the 10th century), it is likely that simple Norse mills like the one shown below were common in the Dales during the Middle Ages. No confirmed Norse Mill sites have been found locally, but evidence suggests that a mill operating on Heaning Gill during the 13th and 14th centuries and another at Newbiggin may have been Norse Mills.
The above diagrams of a typical Norse mill show a simple horizontal water wheel (tirl), that didn't need a great force of water to turn it. A shaft from the tirl through a hole in the lower millstone, called the bedstone, was embedded in the upper millstone, known as the runner stone because it turned while the bedstone did not. There was no gearing in this simple system, so the runner stone turned at the same speed as the tirl. Grain from a hopper was fed between the stones through a hole in the centre of the runner stone, where it was not crushed but cut repeatedly by a scissoring motion between the grooves cut in the two stones and then expelled as meal from the periphery of the stones. A stone of about 30 inches (76 cm) diameter would turn at about 50 rpm, generating just under 1 horsepower and having an average output of 40-50lb (18-23 kg) of meal per hour.
Thoralby Water Mill and Water Turbine Generating Plant FOR SALE
The development of the National Grid providing a reliable source of electric light and also power meant the end for the water turbine generating plant at Thoralby Mill. In May 1948 the mill was put up for sale by auction at the Bolton Arms Hotel, Leyburn "LOT 3, FREEHOLD COMMERCIAL PREMISES, THORALBY MILL, THORALBY (Bishopdale), nr. AYSGARTH, with land, piggeries, and subsidiary buildings. Site area 7 acres 2 roods 17 perches or thereabouts. VACANT POSSESSION available. Includes also a Water Turbine GENERATING PLANT supplying Thoralby and Newbiggin. ..." See the Advertisement below which appeared in the 'Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 01 May 1948.
On the 8th May 1948 the mill was re-advertised for sale at a price of £945, rather than by auction. "LEYBURN - ... Thoralby Mill, electric plant and over seven acres, £945." See the second Advertisement below which appeared in the 'Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 08 May 1948.
Below is an Article in the Yorkshire Post dated 1970, listing all the conversions of old buildings Jack Lunn undertook in the area. Courtesy of The Jack Lunn Group.