Former Ingleborough Estate saw mill with log store


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
The Old Sawmill, Clapham, North Yorkshire, LA2 8DU


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Statutory Address:
The Old Sawmill, Clapham, North Yorkshire, LA2 8DU

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Craven (District Authority)
Clapham cum Newby
National Park:
National Grid Reference:


Mid-Victorian water-powered saw mill converted from an earlier bobbin mill or barn for the Ingleborough Estate, also used for hydro-electric power generation from 1890.

Reasons for Designation

The Old Sawmill, Clapham, the former Ingleborough Estate saw mill and log store, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * for the nationally rare in situ survival of C19 machinery including a water-powered circular saw and powered roller-feed complete with its power transmission system to a 1907 turbine; * as a good, relatively rare surviving example of a small, Victorian, estate saw mill;

Historic interest: * the saw mill was also used to generate electricity as part of an early public lighting scheme following the passing of the Electricity Act of 1888, established in 1890 it is thought to have been one of the first half dozen hydro-electric schemes in England to supply multiple properties and street lamps.


The former Ingleborough Estate saw mill is thought to have been built as a barn, possibly in the late C18. Records suggesting that it was built as a corn mill, which was converted into a cotton mill around 1786, are considered to refer to a mill elsewhere in Clapham. The former Ingleborough Estate saw mill appears to be shown on the first edition 1:10560 Ordnance Survey map published 1851, surveyed 1846-1847. This map records a benchmark which is considered to be the one that survives inscribed into the foot of the south east corner of the building, currently obscured by a downpipe. Although the Tithe Apportionment Schedule of 1851 records the building as a barn occupied by James & Oliver Farrer, it is believed to have operated as a bobbin mill in the mid-C19; a wood-turning mill for making bobbins for the local textile industry. James and Oliver Farrer were brothers who jointly ran the Ingleborough Estate. In 1856 they purchased the lordship of the manor of Clapham, consolidating their control over the village which became an estate village for Ingleborough Hall. The Farrers had plans for a steam-powered saw mill for the estate drawn up in 1867, but this is not thought to have been followed through. The building is, however, thought to have been converted into a saw mill and timber workshop around 1870, but powered by a water-turbine supplied by Wilkinson Brothers of Kendal. This turbine is likely to have been a Vortex-type turbine, the type invented by James Thomson in 1846 and manufactured under licence by Wilkinson Brothers: turbines being more efficient than waterwheels. The suggestion, by a local historian, that this circa 1870 installation was to generate electricity for lighting, is not considered to be correct as this would make it earlier than the pioneering installation by Lord Armstrong at Cragside, Northumberland in 1881. It is possible that the turbine was actually installed later (1882) by Gilkes and Company who bought out Wilkinson Brothers in 1881. There is also a suggestion that the saw mill equipment was upgraded in 1885, this potentially being the date of the powered roller-feed and other equipment surviving within the saw mill. In 1889 the Farrers, who were interested in new technology, were obtaining quotes for the installation of an electrical lighting system for the Hall and village: the Hall, church and Reading Room being lit by accumulators charged via a turbine in 1890. Although it is not certain that electricity generation was from the saw mill from the start, there is a report in 1893 that the turbine at the mill was powering thirteen street lights and some house lights. This would have been alongside the continued use of the water power for the saw mill. The 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1893 shows that the lean-to on the northern side of the saw mill had already been added by this date, along with the log store building to the west and what became Sawmill Cottage to the north. Sawmill Cottage, which is not included in this listing, is thought to have been built as a timber drying kiln and was converted for domestic use in 1968. In 1907 it is reported that a new Gilkes and Company turbine was installed at the saw mill, this is considered to be the turbine that survives within the northern lean-to, the turbine carrying a maker’s plate reading ‘Gilbert Gilkes and Co., Ltd.’.

It is thought that electricity generation for the village continued at the saw mill until 1938 when a new turbine was installed elsewhere, further to the north, closer to the dam. Sometime in the later C20 a three-phase 10hp electric motor was installed to supplement the power provided by the turbine; however it is reported that the saw mill was operable by water-power up until about 2017 when the water supply pipe was accidentally damaged. There is a published photo of the mill in operation dated 2004. Around 1980 the building was renovated with a new roof structure, the partial rebuilding of the east gable and the removal of machinery from the first floor.


Barn of late C18 or early C19 date, used as a bobbin mill mid-C19. Converted by the Ingleborough Estate into a water-powered saw mill and timber workshop about 1870, also used for electricity generation for lighting 1890-1938.

MATERIALS: local rubble limestone with horizontally tooled quoins and lintels, slate roofing laid to diminishing courses. The eastern part of the northern lean-to is built of concrete blockwork and concrete covered brickwork thought to be late C19. PLAN: the main building is open-plan with a circular saw set centrally on the ground floor, off-set to the north of the ridgeline of the building. The uncut logs would have entered via the large opening in the west gable, cut timber passing through a smaller door in the east gable. A saw feed-track to facilitate this movement extends through the building, projecting out into the yard to the west. Cut timber could also be passed to the upper floor via a trapdoor in the ceiling at the western end, or through a first floor loading door in the west gable (this now forming a window). Along the northern wall there is a lean-to extension which is unequally divided into three rooms, the westernmost one being the turbine power room. The upper floor is accessed via a staircase and trapdoor at the eastern end of the main building, and also via a mezzanine floor within the northern lean-to.

EXTERIOR: the main building is of two storeys and eight bays and is quoined. The southern elevation has three reasonably evenly-spaced windows to the ground floor with neatly dressed stone surrounds. There are two windows to the eastern-end of the first floor that are off-set with those to the ground floor. The first floor windows have rough surrounds and thinner lintels and sills. All of the windows are divided into small panes. Between the western two windows there are hints in the stonework that the western end of the building may be an early extension to the original barn.

The eastern gable end has two doorways: just north of centre is a low doorway with a neatly tooled surround matching the south elevation ground floor windows; abutting the quoins to the southern corner is an inserted, regular-height doorway. To the first floor there are hints in the stonework of possible blocked windows. The stonework to the top of the gable, above eaves height, appears to be either rebuilt or repointed.

The western gable has two large ground floor doorways, both being quoined. The larger doorway extends across nearly the full width of the northern half of the elevation and is fitted with an externally hung sliding door. This was the entrance for unsawn timber: the saw feed-track starting about 8m to the west of the building, extending into the mill through the entrance. The saw feed-track survives outside the building as a dwarf wall and concrete plinth fitted with iron brackets which would have held removable rollers: in 2020 these rollers were stored inside the building. The second doorway abuts the quoins to the southern corner, this being a pedestrian entrance, fitted with a timber boarded door. At first floor height, to the south of the centreline, there is a taking-in doorway outlined with slim monolithic jambs and lintels, this doorway subsequently converted into a window. Close to the apex of the gable there is a small opening fitted with an iron bracket carrying four projections: this is interpreted as fixings for four overhead electricity cables, potentially part of the 1890 lighting installation for the village. A later bracket, carrying a ceramic insulator for an overhead electric cable, is attached to the south west corner of the building.

The northern elevation is covered by the lean-to extension, the western part being rubble-stone built with quoining to both the corner and the western window, this quoining being rougher than that found on the main building. The rest of the lean-to is rendered but is reported to be built of concrete blockwork and concrete covered brickwork, both thought to be potentially late C19. INTERIOR: the building retains a water-powered circular saw set into a bench to the centre of the main building, power transmission being via belt drives from a drive shaft set within pits below the floor, the shaft powered by a water-turbine that is within the western end of the lean-to extension to the north. This is a Vortex turbine built by Gilbert Gilkes and Company Limited, thought to have been installed 1907. The saw bench, set on a series of masonry supports, incorporates a pair of metal plates set on rollers, with a gap between the plates to accommodate the saw blade, with a control wheel extending out to the side, all this interpreted as a late C19 powered roller-feed, possibly installed in 1885. To the side of the saw there is another piece of equipment identified as an Empire planer\thicknesser. Fixed to the ceiling above there is an axle with belt-drive drums for power transmission to this machine as well as to machinery formerly on the upper floor. The walls of the interior of the building are generally roughly lime-rendered and include various alcoves, openings and fittings related to its Victorian use as a saw mill and timber workshop, along with many other fittings of a later date. Stud partitions are thought to be later insertions.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: to the west of the saw mill there is the log store which is a largely open-sided, single-storey stone built building consisting of a southern wall and five square pillars supporting a simple A-frame roof covered in slates.


Books and journals
Crocker, A, 'Early water turbines in the British Isles' in Industrial Archaeology Review, , Vol. XXII part 2, (2000), 95-97
Photograph of the saw mill in 2004, accessed 07 July 2020 from
Heritage Statement, The Old Sawmill, Clapham, Yorkshire Dales National Park, LA2 8DU (2020) Minerva Heritage


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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