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Darley

The modern village of Darley extends for a mile or more along the road on the south side of the River Nidd between Birstwith and Dacre. It includes a wide range of housing both ancient and modern and although public amenities are declining Darley still retains two churches, a primary school and a garage. Darley was part of Knaresborough Forest until the 18th century a fact suggested by its name which means "Deer Field". It still appears to be a rural community but, as elsewhere, very few residents are involved in local agriculture today. Fringhill Mill with its obvious relics of water power indicates industrial activity in the past, something that is confirmed by Darley Mill at the other end of the village and by the remains of other mills on Darley Beck. There are also two sites, that have been involved in iron extraction and smelting.

 

The name of Cinder Hills at the eastern end of Darley clearly suggests the slag heaps of an ancient industry although the slag heaps themselves disappeared a long time ago, probably into the foundations of local roads and the railway, although that too is now simply a part history. Evidence of the iron industry at Cinder Hills still remains, however, most obviously in the form of red water flowing from an old adit, slag in a stream bed and some unusually substantial foundations that have been re-used for domestic and agricultural buildings

 

To the west of the village another site concerned with the iron industry was mentioned by William Grainge, a local historian. In his book Harrogate and the Forest of Knaresborough (1871) he writes "The ironstone occurs in nodules in thin beds in the shales. At Rowden Lane in Hampsthwaite . . . .and also in Darley Bank, on the road to Otley. On widening the road there a few years ago the old galleries of the workmen were found in the side of the hill."

 

The Darley Bank site appears to have been on the current road that runs up the hill from Darley Mill towards Menwith Hill as it passes through a double bend where there are many small spoil heaps on both sides of the road. This road is named Hardgroves Hill on some current Ordnance Survey maps and it has been closed for repairs on occasion in recent years, a consequence, it seems, of the earlier mining and quarrying. More signs of ancient ore extraction are evident beside Moorcock Lane, a local road that joins Hardgroves Hill on Darley Bank. The remains of a blast furnace are nearby and it seems likely that some local buildings are on old industrial foundations as is the case at Cinder Hills.

HLFNL_2747 ,48cm

Darley from Dacre Pasture, Darley Mill in the foreground

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