Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Joseph Foord: The man who brought water to Fadmoor and Gillamoor

This is Sleighthome Dale, which is drained by Hodge Beck. Bransdale is upstream and Kirkdale is downstream, but it’s unclear where one dale ends and the other begins.

Across the dale, there’s a limestone plateau called Boon Hill, with the twin villages of Fadmoor and Gillamoor. In the 18th century, both villages had no easy access to water, which had to be carried up the steep banks.

A local man named Joseph Foord, the son of a well-to-do Fadmoor farmer, had interests in local mills and coal mines and was the land agent for Duncombe Park. He realised that the entire plateau slopes gently up towards the north, with Gillamoor and Fadmoor at about 155m asl1above sea level and Boon Hill, the highest tip of the hill, about a mile and a half to the northwest at about 190m asl.

Foord proposed to construct a water race from Ouse Ghyll at about 330m asl, flowing by gravity to the foot of Boon Hill and on to Gillamoor, appearing to climb up the steep slope. In around 1747, he constructed his first experimental water race. It ran for five miles and successfully brought water into Fadmoor and Gillamoor. This was later extended to Kirbymoorside2Gillamoor Water Race NYMNPA HER No: 6500.

Following the success of the Fadmoor Water Race, seven more were built, with the longest being 13 miles. The water depth was generally between 300 and 450mm, and silt naturally sealed the base. Clay was only used to plug holes caused by moles. Maintaining the water races was a major job, as there were issues with theft, moles, and voles. A waterman was employed to deal with these matters.

Unfortunately, Foord’s social life was not as successful. He was a Quaker but was expelled from the Society of Friends for having fathered an illegitimate child. He died in 1788 and was buried as a non-member in their burial ground3‘Joseph Foord (1714-1788)’. 2023. Yorkshiremoors.co.uk <http://www.yorkshiremoors.co.uk/people/joseph_foord.html> [accessed 15 April 2023].




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