Just off the Baysdale road is an unfinished millstone

One face has been dressed as had the circumferential edge. I guess the plan was to flip it and then work on the underside face. But why and when was it abandoned?

Unfunished millstone
Unfinished millstone looking north-west (Capt. Cook’s far right)

The obvious destination would have been one of the two mills at Kildale.

Just before the River Leven leaves the parish boundary in the deep gorge below Mill Bank wood, there was a fulling or bleaching mill until torrential rain caused the fish ponds upstream in the village to burst their banks during the night of 21 July 1840 when the mill was destroyed.

Fulling was a process by which wool was thickened and the fibres matted together by pounding with a club. In a mill, mechanical hammers were used, driven by water power fed from a dam.  At some time, wool weaving went into decline and the mill was converted into a bleach mill for the whitening of the linen cloth indicating that flax was being grown in the village environs. In the 1730s, the registers at Kildale church record four weavers were buried implying that at least four families were involved although it is not recorded if these were wool or linen weavers.

The mill was directly below Bleach Mill Farm. Today, a few dressed stones of the mill race can be found amongst the undergrowth.

The great flood in 1840 also wiped out the other mill in Kildale, the manorial corn mill which was first recorded in 1262, ‘the first corn-mill in Cleveland’. It was also located in the gorge, just downstream of the Old Meggison waterfall. I have heard that dressed stones can also be found at this site but I can’t say I’ve ever searched for any. The theory is that the mill would have used the head of water from above the falls without the need for a long race. In 1840, history had repeated itself for an earlier mill ‘was totally destroyed by a great inundation’ in 1321.

So maybe the millstone was destined for the corn mill in Kildale but the flood of 1840 caused its manufacture to be abandoned. Purely a guess of course.

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