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Sluice gate

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Sluice gate

Photo from board 4 Child's drawing of the footbridge over the weir

Board 4

Turn right along Pick’s Lane, named after a Mr. Pick who had a farm opposite the kissing gate. The farm has been redeveloped and houses built on the site. Go down Pick’s Lane to enter Kirkgate. Opposite the junction is the site of Rhodes Brewery, now converted into flats. It was one of two breweries that existed in the street. Thirsk Museum is to the right. Thomas Lord, famous for founding Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, was born there.

At the northern end of the street is the Parish Church built in the Perpendicular style and dedicated to Saint Mary. Other buildings of interest are the World of James Herriot where Alf Wight (his real name), the famous vet and author, had his surgery and Thirsk Hall, the home of the Lords of the Manor. Walk towards the church and cross the road.

Take the footpath to the left that runs parallel to the main road and is left of the river. Walk for about 300 yards (275 metres) to get to board 4 positioned near the sluice gate.

The Sluice gate is one of the last remnants of the Thirsk Mill which stood where the present Mill Gardens are situated. The old map (left) shows us the extensive nature of the mill and its component parts.

The Thirsk Mill was an undershot one, usual in lowland areas, and was used for milling a variety of materials over time including corn. For a mill to work there needs to be a regular supply of water and this is provided by a Mill Race. The sluice gate regulated the supply of water from the Cod Beck into the Mill Race. The weir alongside it dammed up the water in the river to assist the operation of the sluice gate. The Mill Race ran alongside the Northallerton road and then down what is now the Marage Road before being utilised to power the mill wheel. The top of the Mill Race wall can still be seen at the edge of the grass alongside the footpath next to the road. In the kerb stones you can still see the slots into which the fence posts were fixed.

The miller was therefore not dependent on the vagaries of the supply from the river; he could control when and how much water he required to undertake his milling.

The area between the Mill Race and the river provided an attractive grassed area which was used for recreational purposes by the people of Thirsk (see the Holmes board ). Bridges crossed the Mill Race including Church Bridge near St Mary’s Church.

The mill fell into decline and was shut in the 1960s and the decision was taken by the Thirsk Rural District Council to fill in the Mill Race.

The cottages of Norby (opposite) which had been condemned as unfit for habitation were pulled down and the rubble used to fill the Mill Race.

The sluice gate and the weir (locally known as the waterfall) are all that remain of the original extensive mill workings. The sluice gate at the mill end of the Mill Race was removed in recent times.

Glossary

Sluice gate - consists of a gate, usually of wood which can be opened or closed using mechanical guides. You can still see the remaining mechanism’s screw.
Mill Race - stream of water above the mill wheel
Weir - dam across stream to divert water to the mill
Undershot wheel - wheel driven by impulse of water passing underneath.

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