IP 3 – Old Pool Corn Mill

Corn Mill

IP3At this spot can be seen the remains of Pool Corn Mill.  This was producing flour up to 1910, but was demolished in the 1930s.  The remains were partially excavated by the West Yorkshire Archaeology Service in 1992 and by H G Muller in 1995, and the site was then backfilled in order to ensure the continued stability of the monument.   There has been a mill on this site since at least the middle of the eighteenth century, and as it is known that Pool had a mill for at least 700 years there could have been a mill on this site for all that time.

The mill was powered by water flowing down from the Chevin to the River Wharfe, with work being carried out around 1770 to divert local becks into the millpond.  The current wetland on the north side of the garages on Millcroft is the remains of this millpond, although when the mill was in use it was larger than now.  The most obvious sign of the mill is the filled in wheel pit in front of you here.  The mill was of an ‘overshot’ design, where the water was fed in above the centre of the wheel, and the power was generated by gravity as the water fell over the wheel.  It seems to have been of the relatively uncommon ‘pitch back’ type of overshot arrangement, where the water struck the paddles below the apex of the wheel, at about 10 o’clock if the wheel is imagined as a clock face. The mill race (or pen trough) feeding the water to the wheel can be seen.  The tail race by which water left the mill and went down to the river is underground at this point.

The mill race fed water into the mill building on its south side, and the tail race took it away under the building.  The area to the east side of the tail race (to the left of where you are standing) was occupied by a drying floor, where the grain would have been laid out to dry and turned regularly before milling.  It is also possible that this area could have been used to lay out grains to start germination, the process of malting that is carried out on barley before it goes for brewing into beer.  The shaft through the water wheel transmitted the power generated to the millstones to the west of the wheel pit (to the right of where you are looking), through a series of cogs and gears that turned the power through 90 degrees.  If you imagine a vertical water wheel in front of you, its axle would have been horizontal, yet the axle to move the upper millstone would have been vertical.

The house of the miller and the cottages of the mill workers can be seen further across to the west of the site, off Mill Lane.  One of the millstones can still be seen at the entrance to Pool School.

Details on the mill can be found in the book The Story of a Small Yorkshire Dales Village by Pat Lazenby, available at Pool Post Office.

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