A Bishop Monkton Local History Group event

Sue leads a fascinating walk taking us down memory lane

Sue Hargreaves this week led a group of villagers on a fascinating walk round the village and surrounding area, talking about landmarks as we passed and keeping us amused with her constant flow of anecdotes about village characters and about her own memories of living  as a child here.This was a repeat of the same walk which took place in May and which was so successful that it was decided to repeat it.

So here is a summary of where she took us and what she told us .....

The Mill as it looked in 1910.

PAPER MILL  Our walk started appropriately outside the flax mill named Freedom Mill which later became the Renton & Butterfield Paper Mill. The Main building  is now a handsome residential block.

Sue told us her dad used to work there along with Bill Hutchinson, Jan and Gordon Bernard, Angela Wright, Fred Storey, a Mr Atkinsoin from Ripon and Dave Dixon (landlord of The Ship Inn, Ripon). Alec Renton was the manager and was always there.
The wood pulp was brought there in ton blocks. Sue’s dad once dropped one of these on his foot fracturing all his toes.
The wood pulp was softened with acid, put into brass drums and the dye was added. The pulp then went through a huge distributor tank before being moved round on a chain belt, powered by a water wheel, before being taken off to dry in the sun before being pressed and then sold to be used in numerous ways.
Sue recalled that one of the 'perks' of the job was a ready supply of cardboard ‘spills’ which her dad used to light his Churchill ciggies,
The mill closed in 1975.

ALBION FARM  After a short walk along the Boroughbridge Farm we got to Albion Farm, which was once run by Jack Chisem (Alan’s Dad).
Sue remembered as a child walking back from cricket stopping here to see pink snouts peering back over the wall.

IVY FARM  Next to another part of Bishop Monkton’s agricultural heritage. Ivy Farm is now the last remaining working farm left in the village. In the old days there was a big orchard here with  some lovely pear trees on  the other side of a stone wall, with broken glass on top to stop Sue and her friends scrumping.
Near here there were two large pillars and a gate, but these got knocked down by a tractor and the remains are now in Mr Moon’s garden.

Village cricket in 1896.

LOW FARM BARN Next we stop outside Low Farm Barn. This is the oldest building in the village and is mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
This is where Ken and Margaret Morland lived. Ken was a great cricket enthusiast. He was captain of the village team and allowed one of his fields to be used as the cricket ground.
Many memories still  remain about cricket in the early days  but the one Sue chose was about Len Holmes (not Hutton!). He played alongside her father (Tony) and her Uncle George (Rowland).
Lanky Len (he was 6ft 3inches tall) was quite a pacey if rather wayward bowler in his playing days and later became the club's official  (and officious) umpire, particularly officious after he took a fancy to 
playing snooker in The Mechanics' Institute after Saturday home matches,
Sue recalled what happened. Len did not want to lose his place on the snooker table so close of play sometimes had to be speeded up.
At this time whenever the ball hit  the pads, the home team would shout ‘Howzat?’ in unison.
Len would respond. 'It’s gone 6 o’clock, time I was away and playing snooker. That’s OUT’ and the dreaded shaking finger would go up!
Sue also remembers she and others used to walk through the nearby orchard for 'a wee' where there was a double seater outside toilet!

SEWAGE WORKS On now to the sewage works. Not everyone has seen this neatly hidden away village facility, so worth a fleeting visit but not the place for a picnic!

The Corn Mill is a place of memories.

CORN MILL Now we came to the village’s other mill - the Corn Mill, full of memories but now converted into tasteful residential houses and flats  with neatly trimmed lawns and stone flagged footpaths,
In  the old days,  when still a mill, this was run by Ken Morland.
Sue’s father once worked here before being a driver’s  mate to Scout Hymas delivering  animal feeds. Alan Chisem and Jack McGregor  also worked in the mill.
The interior of the mill was full of rickety floors with gaping holes through which bags of grain were hoisted up using a system of antiquated chains and pulleys. The whole system was powered by a rusty water wheel. This was clearly long before the days of Health and Safety laws!
Sue related one chilling ‘ghost story’ about the mill, where long ago a mill worker is said to have committed suicide, and how in more recent times people working in the mill had had frightening experiences, hearing footsteps, a disembodied laugh and then a snarl, and the a window swinging open on its own accord. It was all bitterly cold, too.
A dog named Bess they had with  them ventured into where the strange happenings had occurred, and later was found dead with rigor mortis already set in. Some in the group refused to ever step inside the mill again..

The quarry where sand and gravel were excavated.

THE QUARRY  This is a place not many villagers have seen. It is where sand and gravel used to be excavated. Sue's Grandad Curtis (who arrived in the village in 1910)  used to drive a horse and cart in here and use a shovel to load up the cart with sand or gravel and then take it to the nearby  'cut' where the cargo was loaded onto a narrow boat to be taken to the River Ure and then to where it had been ordered by a customer.

ANCHOR HOUSE  Now on to the last house in the village. This property has in the past suffered badly in floods with water once up to its second floor window. Since then the house has been completely modernised and the flood risk has been completely eliminated..

Years ago Sue's Auntie Doll lived here and told of the day when a thunderbolt came down the chimney and rolled across the stone floor and out of the door. 
It is near to here that the  ‘cut’ started - a waterway, some 12 feet wide and 6ft deep, on which.a horse drawn narrow boat called Rosabel once carried sand and gravel to York or even further afield and came back laden with grain for the corn mill. This could involve a six week round journey.

Now our little group walked alongside the old 'cut' (now almost completely silted up and overgrown) to the river where we turned left and followed the River Ure up the Oxclose Locks to hear the final instalment of Sue's story.

Hearing the story of Red Rum.

OXCLOSE LOCKS  Here, by the locks Sue told us about Bobby Renton's place and how he reared race horses here. He bought one horse at auction despite being told the horse could not jump. Later the horse was sold on to Ginger McCain at Southport, where Red Rum  became a champion thoroughbred steeplechaser, achieving an unmatched historic treble by winning the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977 and was second in the two intervening years.

Those of us who joined Sue's walk were interested to visit places some of us had never previously seen and hear interesting and amusing anecdotes which added greatly to the pleasure out the occasion.

The event was organised by Bishop Monkton Local  History Group.


Go to LOCAL HISTORY for pictures and reports or other group outings this year.