Upper Wharfedale Field Society.

Excursion to the STONEY GROOVE and MERRYFIELD Lead mining area.

Saturday 15th September 2007.

The Stoney Groove Mine, Nidderdale

In the 12th century the CHASE OF NIDDERDALE passed from the MOWBRAY family to Fountains and Byland Abbeys – Ashfold Gill forming a dividing line – there were many disputes regarding ownership. Following the Dissolution SIR STEPHEN PROCTOR bought remnants of the Fountains Estate in the area, from the Greshams in1597, developed the mines and founded Greenhow village and SIR JOHN YORKE bought the Byland Estates – his grandson – another Sir John Yorke, built the Heathfield Smelt Mill. ‘

Change followed change in ownership of land and mining rights, SIR THOMAS of Eagle Hall with JOHN WOOD as lessee developed PROSPEROUS and Providence SMELT MILLS from 1785 with the SMELT MILL SHAFT (gearing still visible) being sunk in l8l4. Water wheels installed down the shaft lifted water up to WONDERFUL LEVEL. After many changes in output and prosperity closure occurred in 1872.

John Homer & Company were working MERRYFIELD by 1800. By 1826 the NEW SHAFT was sunk at MERRYFIELD HOLE opposite the STONEY GROOVE site, to a depth of 55 fathoms and equipped with a CORNISH BOILER PLANT and a steam pump, until such time as WONDERFUL LEVEL could be driven up to it. The Ransgill Mining Co. Ltd. was then formed in 1873 and worked HIGH and LOW STONEY GROOVE mines – leased from—Barnaby & Hutchinson. Then the Bewerley United Lead and Barytes Mining Company was formed in 1887 and later bought the mineral rights from Burnaby & Hutchinson. Ore was transported from High Stoney Grooves to the dressing floors at Low Stoney Grooves on a tramway built along the top of Ashfold Gill. They ceased all work on the mines and wound up in 1889.

An outlet into the Ashfold Side Beck

The floors at LOW STONEY GROOVES are the only remaining example let in a recognisable form on the Greenhow Field, being the last to be worked, possibly laid out by the Bewerley United Lead and Barytes Mining Company and taking advantage of the natural lie of the land. The floor is set out on four levels, the first floor has two Bouse Teams to receive ore from the shaft head. The second floor has part of the water wheel pit on one side and probably supported a trommel or some other type of sizing machinery. On the third floor the water wheel is centred and here the crusher and jigging machinery were sited. The lowest floor was for treatment of fines and here can be seen the remains of a CENTRE HEAD BUDDLE for dealing with the fines in the form of a slurry – possibly the only one ever built on the Greenhow Field.

Sitting in the centre head buddle

The area lies about two miles N of the North Craven Fault but the geology is all in the Namurian where the Bycliffe Fault (which has run 8 miles from Grassington Moor to this area) becomes the Stoney Groove and the Providence Faults – all in a NW/SE direction. The oldest rocks will be the Red Scar Grit on the NE side of the fault along with Follifoot Grits.

Les Bloom.