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Posted:  Thursday 20 July 2017

North East Associates
take a trip to Richmond

- Wednesday 12 July -

The sun was shining as we left Newcastle this morning, and the sunshine continued all day.

An hours’ drive took us to this attractive town in North Yorkshire where we were let loose for the day.

After negotiating the seemingly everlasting A1(M) roadworks the first main attraction in Richmond is the Friary Gardens which include the bell-tower as the only remaining part of a Franciscan Greyfriars' Monastery founded in the thirteenth century.

The Friary Garden and Greyfriars Tower

The land for this was donated by a Ralph Fitz Randal, Lord of Middleham, and out of sheer coincidence the Wetherspoon’s pub across the road bears his name!

Other pubs are available.

Cafés too were well supported by the coffee clan.

Armed with a home-produced mini-guide our group of folks joined many more visitors and spread out around the town, with lots to see in and around the Market Place centre.  For many the first visit was to the Market Hall.

We found the Millgate Garden too, just open what appears to be a front door on a street and walk in!  Further down the hill was the waterfall on the River Swale and continuing on The Railway Station, now a café, cinema and artisan shop centre - bus-passes at the ready to ease the journey back up the hill.
A couple of museums, the castle, and a Georgian theatre are near.

The River Swale, Richmond

Yours truly met up with Richmond friends
and took a side-trip further up beautiful Swaledale
to the site of an old lead smelting mill high in the hills.

Here, until the end of the nineteenth century, rock of volcanic origin
containing lead was mined.
Many similar sites are to be found in the North Pennines.

After being broken up the rock was heated in large peat fires
– the peat came from the surroundind moorland –
and the lead extracted.

The fires were fanned by large bellows operated by cranks
driven by a giant overshot water wheel.
  The water came from a dam nearby in the valley.

All in all a pretty horrendous operation.

An artist's impression of the original, note the Swaledale sheep!

The Peat Store and Smelt Mill buildings remain,
along with sections of the stone chimney
which was built to follow the contour of the hillside.

  The chimney ran along the rear of the Peat Store to help the drying process.

Apparently the ‘men’ mined the raw material and it was broken up
by their wives and children in a very crude manner
before being placed in the fires.

The peat store

The main building, peat store right

The back of the peat store . .

. . and the chimney

The flue outlet . .

. . and all that remains

the youngsters were sent into the chimney to scrape carbon from the sides,
this being reprocessed to recover more lead
- life expectancy being about fourteen years for those involved.

A horror story which ended about 120 years ago, fortunately.


Ooh! - that apostrophe!
Back in Richmond
‘Rustique Restaurant’
and the
‘R F R’ pub
were popular,
and many ended the day
on the terrace of the Kings Head Hotel,
as evidenced by the wine glasses above.

Then it was home again, for about half-past-five.


pictures:  ph

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