THE ORIGINAL HISTORY OF AYTON SCHOOL 1841 - 1891

 

CHAPTER IX. A CHAPTER OF SUNDRIES: WATER, GAS, FIRE.ETC.

Preface
Contents
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Appendix

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Contents

EARLY in 1843 the question of water supply came under the careful consideration of the committee. Hitherto we had depended on a cistern for rain water in the roof of the building erected by William Holmes, and spring water from the wells; as the former of these in dry weather failed, much inconvenience was experienced. As the water in what was called the Dykes Beck had considerable fall and dams across it to prevent the deepening the water course, it was proposed to make a filter-bed alongside of the upper dam and bring the water in a two inch pipe to the wash-house and kitchen in the main building with branches to supply the orchard, farm buildings, nurseries and boys’ play ground, but more particularly the cottage used by the boys for a wash-house, who hitherto had obtained their water from a pump close by. Tenders were sent out. Fossick and Hackworth were the lowest and received the order and the pipes were laid, but the bore was too small and, for want of proper attention to the filter bed, sediment was deposited in the pipes and the flow of water gradually decreased. To help this an hydraulic ram was tried but it was constantly getting out of order and was abandoned. To obtain a supply of water for Cleveland Lodge a settling pond and filter bed was made higher up the stream and a three inch pipe laid down, from which a branch was continued to the school, and the old pipes were abandoned and left in the ground as they were not worth the labour of taking out. When the additional buildings were added to the school in 1846 very large cisterns were made in the roof to receive the water, from which it was distributed to the kitchen, wash-house, dairy, girls’ lavatory and other parts.

Adjoining the school premises was a mill known as the Oil Mill, the wheel of which was driven by the water of the river Leven that flowed through the school grounds dammed back by stone steps, over which the water flowed when not required at the mill, making a very pretty cascade. When wanted at the mill a door was opened in a sluice which led down to the water wheel. When there was more water in the sluice than the wheel required it ran over a by-wash; this also added to the beauty of the grounds. Beside the high dam there was one a little lower down the stream, and known as the low dam, above which was the ford across to the fields. The oil-mill buildings were very old, said to have been first a brewery (perhaps with malt kilns) afterwards a flax mill; be that as it may, when we came to the village it was used for expressing oil from linseed.

The process was a simple one, a pair of edge stones crushed the seed which was heated in small iron pans over a slow fire, and kept from burning by revolving knives inside the pans; when hot it was put into hair bags and placed between wedges made of beechwood, the upper ones driven down by heavy stampers lifted by a revolving shaft, and then allowed to fall on the wedge. When this was driven home the bag was taken out and the crushed linseed was found pressed into a flat mass called oilcake, sold to the farmers for feeding their cattle. The oil ran down into tanks below the wedges. In this state it was called “raw linseed oil.” This oil when pumped into caldrons and boiled with sulphuric acid, was called boiled linseed oil, and was in great demand for mixing with paint. Philip Heselton, Senior, established the oil business, and carried it on successfully to the time of his death, when it was leased to Saunders and Weatheral, of Stockton, who also rented a similar mill at the west end of the village, the property of John Richardson, of Langbaurgh. When the new process of obtaining oil from linseed by hydraulic pressure so much more cheaply and efficiently, came into use, the two oil mills were no longer required, and the villagers who ran them had to find other employment. The external appearance of the mills was rather unsightly, but the fall of the heavy stampers produced a sound rather pleasant to the ear, as it was echoed from the distant hills The cottage in which we lived was connected by solid walls with the mill building, and every fall of the stamper caused them to oscillate and we felt the motion in the bed on which we slept. In time both sound and motion became familiar to us and produced no disturbing effect.

After the oil mill had stood empty a few years, Philip and Joseph Heselton, the owners, offered it for sale, but found no purchaser. Being so intimately connected with the school property, had it fallen into other hands they might have given us much annoyance. As they had a right of way to the river bank, dams, and ford, we should have had to allow the doors in the archway, which led to the grounds, to have remained unlocked night and day. It was concluded, if a reasonable price was put upon it, to purchase it. The owners offered it for £500, but were unwilling to sell it unless the purchaser would take the edgestones, cauldron, and other articles used in expressing oil, which they valued at £200. It was purchased for £700. P. and J. Heselton allowed this amount to stand as a debt owing to them by the institution, for which they received interest. Afterwards, arrangements were made for liquidating the debt from moneys received from two life interests in Cleveland Lodge.

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