Malton History Walk 1

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1. Start in the Market Place at St Michael’s Church, a 12th century chapel of ease belonging to St Mary’s Church at Old Malton. While it has Norman origins very few parts from this date remain, the tower was added in the 1400s and it has seen a series of restorations since. Two of the three main bells date back to the late 17th century.

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Malton map 1

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2. With your back to the entrance of the church you will see the Stone Pillar that was once the site of the market cross. The first public gas lamp was erected here in 1836. George Fox preached here in 1652 and a large crowd gathered and watched as Friends burnt silk, lace, ribbons and other commodities as a protest against vanity and luxuries. There was also a Bull Ring situated 7 yards west of this stone that was used for bull baiting, once a legal activity.

3. Now cross the Market Place towards Paley’s greengrocers and go through the archway between Lloyds Pharmacy and the Chancery Coffee House. This is Chancery Lane, once called Pudding Lane, and down here on the left is the old Corn Exchange, built by Lord Fitzwilliam in 1845 after the cabinetmaker’s shop that once stood here was burnt down. The Corn Exchange was never used for the purpose it was intended as it proved to be impractical but by the late 1800s it had become the main place for hiring’s in the town. Today the building is now the Lanes shopping mall and the Palace cinema.

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4. As you pass the cinema you will see on the right with its shuttered windows, what has become known as The Dickens House. It is believed to be Scrooge’s Counting House in ‘A Christmas Carol’ by the famous novelist. Charles Dickens visited Malton as his brother; Alfred Lamert Dickens was living in the area and working as an engineer on the railway at the time. Charles’ friend, Charles Smithson, ran a solicitor’s office from these rooms. The fire at the cabinet shop across the way seriously jeopardised this building; it is now the Counting House Museum. The post office was once situated in this Lane.

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5. Carry on to the end of the lane and cross Yorkersgate to the George Hotel. It was previously known as the Black Horse, built about 1720 at a time when the river was being made navigable to the Humber. Small vessels had always been able to get to the sea from Malton but the work on the river following the Navigation Act of 1701 meant that much larger cargo vessels could use the Derwent. Water Lane led straight down to the riverhead and most goods had to come and go this way. The Inn provided accommodation for the boat people who were employed in the river trade. The Davidson’s took over the Inn in 1855, they renamed it The George and the archway was built in 1880 to provide additional accommodation.

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6. Facing the George Hotel turn right and continue up Yorkersgate. Looking over to the right side of the road you will see the Subscription Rooms built in 1814 by the Fitzwilliam family. These rooms have played host to various events and occupations throughout history especially for the upper classes. They housed a library, reading room, museum of natural history and curiosities in addition to a theatre.

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7. Carry along Yorkersgate until you come to a gap just before the grand York House. Look down into the yard and you will see Owston Warehouse by the river that is currently being restored. Used for storage and unloading goods brought to Malton it is one of the few remnants of the days of the river trade and Navigation Wharf as this section of the river was known. The exact date of building is not clear but it was certainly before 1790. The photo is taken from the walkway at the other side of the river.

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8. Carry on along Yorkersgate and you will see the very distinctive York House, built in at least the 15th century and perhaps earlier, probably by the Gilbertine Monks from Old Malton. It fell into the ownership of the Strickland’s and they made significant changes to the house after 1682. The Watson-Wentworth family purchased all Strickland holdings in the 1700s including York House. This family and the Fitzwilliam’s were joined by marriage in the mid 1700s and so the inheritance of both estates was combined. Further alterations were carried on at York House in the 18th century.

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9. Next door to York House is the Talbot Hotel, the core of which was acquired by Sir William Strickland in 1672 to use as a town house or hunting lodge. Around 1713 it was purchased by Sir Thomas Watson Wentworth and the building was further aggrandised and turned into a hotel. For the years that followed it provided high quality accommodation for the sporting gentry. In the mid 1800s it was frequented by the famous racehorse trainer at Whitewall Stables, John Scott, known as the ‘Wizard of the North’. Like many other buildings in town it possesses a secret passageway down to the river.
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10. Looking over the wall from the Talbot the views stretch across to Whitewall and Langton Wolds where the famous racecourse, long gone, was once situated. In the 1600s a spring with similar properties to the spa at Scarborough was discovered about 200 yards west of here down by the river. In 1721 Sir William Strickland leased this land known as Browse Close to extend the gardens and it included the Spa or well. The terms of the lease provided unrestricted access to all the people of Malton to take the waters. Malton Spa became an attraction here after other towns such as Scarborough and Bath developed the idea of healthy ‘Spa Waters’ in the 18th century. This led to the construction of a Spa Building and extensive leisure gardens but eventually it lost its popularity and the spring became lost under stones and debris.

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11. Carry on along Yorkersgate until you see the War Memorial on your right. Once a cannon stood here, claimed at Sebastopal by allied armies in the Crimean War 1855. It originally stood in the Market Place until 1883 when it was moved here along with a German gun from WW1; they both went for scrap in WW2 along with the iron railings that surrounded the plot. The present War Memorial commemorates the lives of those who died for our country during both world wars.

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12. Opposite the War Memorial you will see the Mount Hotel. This was once Prospect House, built in 1865-66 and shortly after completion it became St. Michael’s School, a private establishment for girls both boarders and day scholars between the ages of 5 and 17.

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13. Walk back down Yorkersgate passing the Vanburgh Arch (Stable Block Gateway) on your left. It is thought that it once led to the Talbot stables. It is built in the style of the famous Vanburgh who designed Castle Howard, although recent studies have revealed it to have been built 1800-50s long after his death. In the yard are the largely intact late Georgian stables, as well as an early coach-house.

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14. Carry on down Yorkersgate taking the first left up Market Place. Along here you will come to the Green Man dating from the 18th century. As you can see by the style this was once two separate inns but in 1977 the Fleece Inn or Golden Fleece, situated next door that dates back to the 15th century, was incorporated into the Green Man. In 1830 Margaret Peckett stole money from the landlady and staff at the Fleece and received 6 months hard labour at Northallerton Jail. She then stole from a stagecoach, was caught and taken to York Castle where she escaped in 1834, was recaptured and sentenced to 14 years transportation to Australia.

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15. Further along this side of the Market Place, is the King’s Head, once the principal inn in Malton. It is said that between 1715 and 1730 contested elections took place here from a balcony that is no longer evident. In 1913 the building was gutted by fire and its unusual crooked chimney was destroyed.

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16. Carry on along Market Place until you reach the red pillar-box and phone booth then turn left to walk down The Shambles. These shops were built mainly for butchers that originally traded from a meat market sited along the north side of St. Michael’s Church when the Cattle Market was in Market Square. When the Cattle Market moved to the present location in 1826 so did The Shambles. At one time there were 33 butcher’s shops in Malton and 13 of them were here.

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17. Straight ahead you will see the Cattle Market and sheep pens. This area is due to be developed in the near future and the cattle market after almost 200 years here will probably be moved to another location.

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18. Walk straight on until you come to the white inn, the Spotted Cow; this Grade II listed building is more than 300 years old with traditional cruck-framed construction. A police station was once attached to the building and the prison or lock up was situated in Finkle Street.

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19. Turn right into Victoria Road and you will see the Old Police House, a red brick building that became the new police house and prison about 1893. In 1901 a courthouse was added to the right. Prior to this, prisoners were taken to the court at the town hall to be tried. It is now the Old Police House Dental Practice and the Red House Dental Practice.
20. Carry on down this road until you reach the first right turn. You will see the Middlecave sign on the wall opposite, turn right here into Spital Field Court and then left into Spital Street and follow the road down to Newbiggin. This street was built outside the old town walls and the name was meant to represent a ‘New Beginning’ or ‘New Building’ for the town.

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21. The white building on the opposite side of the road is the Blue Ball Inn, an old cruck house dating from the 16th century; it originally had a thatched roof. It has been an inn at least since 1823

22. Turn right onto Wheelgate then immediately right again up Finkle Street. On the left side is a private car park. This is where Malton lock-ups stood, known as ‘Black Holes’ there were two of them, as men and women prisoners were detained separately. They were narrow places with small iron gratings on the door and a bench for the prisoner to lie on. They were locked up until they could be tried at the Town Hall or transported to Northallerton, handcuffed and chained to a cart. There is a tale that young boys would beg ale at a public house, place a churchwarden’s pipe in the keyhole of the lock-up door and then pour the liquor down the head of the pipe for the prisoner to drink. A local innkeeper used to supply them with food. The lock-ups were demolished in 1893 when a new Police House, prison and court room were built in Victoria Road.

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23. Carry straight on and look across to Newgate, the road on the right. The Black Bull that once stood there was demolished to make a road. Still on Market Place you will see HSBC Bank also on the right. Previously it was the Golden Lion, a building that was probably medieval in origin. When it was demolished in 1791, a discovery of Edward II coins was made, and the remains of earlier buildings were found under the cellar. You will see there is another Golden Lion further along the road, perhaps named as such after the other one here was demolished.

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24. You will see the prominent building in the Market Place that is the old Town Hall, dating from the 16th century. It once had a stone balcony where important announcements were made such as the results of the General Election. In the parliamentary reform of 1832 Malton was six heads short to keep two MPs. That evening three women had twins and the second member was then allowed to sit until 1865. The arches inside the building were once open and an infamous Egg and Butter market was held there regularly. The Justices Room above was enlarged in 1856 and nearly destroyed in the fire of 1877. Until the recent restoration it housed a museum but at present it is unoccupied.

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25. Here in the Market Place, on Michaelmas Day there would be a fair opened by the Borough Bailiff and accompanied by the town crier. They would arrive on horses dressed in red gowns with shiny top hat and boots. The town crier would read a proclamation on the Town Hall steps. The Court Leat and Court Baron would try all cases, which arose in the fair at a court of Pie-Powder held within the market or fair precinct. Stallholders would be called upon for jury service to settle disputes over slander, battery or any other complaints such as the quality of goods sold. There would be a long stall at the bottom of the market place where everything possible would be on sale. At the Martinmas Hiring a band known as the ‘Wombwells’ would appear and there were side shows of ‘fat ladies’ ‘skeleton men’, ‘dwarfs’, etc. and one or two boxing booths. From the Black Bull, where Newgate is now, to the Kings Head young men and women would stand in rows hoping to be selected by farmers to be their servants.

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26. Walk around the Town Hall then across the Market Place and onto the pavement where the post office is situated. Follow the path back to Paley’s, green grocers where the walk began. Continue into the car park at the left side of the shop and you will see the Milton Rooms. They were built in 1931 by the Fitzwilliam’s and it was named after their family home in Peterborough. Underneath is the 19th century Masonic Rooms still in use today. The Old Globe Inn, which had stood here for 200 years, was demolished to make room for it. At the back of this building is the Subscription Rooms on Yorkersgate. The Fitzwilliam Estate presented the Milton Rooms to the town in 1948 and it has since been the venue for concerts, dances and many other social and community events.


Malton History Walk 2

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1. The walk begins at Suddaby’s Crown Hotel in Wheelgate near the traffic lights. This building was erected on the site of the Old Ship Inn in 1827 and was originally a coaching inn. Owned by Roses’ Breweries they named it Rose and Crown; shortened to the Crown by 1860. It was rebuilt once again in the early 19th century after it was destroyed by a fire. It has been in the ownership of the Suddaby family from 1879. Beer has been brewed in Malton since the 18th century but it ceased in the 1960’s until it was revived here in the converted stables at the rear of the hotel about 1984. Their beer is still in production but no longer brewed on the premises.

Download Malton History Walk 2 here.

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2. Walk to the lights and you have reached Butcher’s Corner. There was once a large cobbled market square here and the Market of Fish Cross was sited at the opposite corner where Wells Lane meets Castlegate; the base of the cross was about four feet in diameter and two feet thick. A large water pump stood outside 12 Castlegate, and was conveniently situated for the fish market. Cries of, ‘To be sold at the fish cross, fine Flamborough crabs,’ could often be heard.. Farmers in their carts would be lined up along Wheelgate and Castlegate waiting their turn to enter the corn factories to grind their corn. Men used to congregate here looking for work loading and unloading their wagons; they were known as ‘Butcher Corner Men.’

3. Stay on this side and cross the road at the lights into Castlegate, or Low Street as this end of Castlegate was known. This was once the most important part of the town for industry with a tan yard, three flourmills, four breweries, coal staithes and later a biscuit mill. Looking across the road you will see Yates Cycle Shop at 20 Castlegate. This was once Taylors who were said to have introduced the first cup of tea to Malton in 1700. In 1856 they installed the first coffee machine in town to supply the factory owners who at that time still resided next to their work places.

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4. You will now approach the Maltings, a complex of flats and commercial units that was once The Old Brewery founded in 1767. It had various owners prior to Charles Rose & Co taking over the brewery in 1894. In the early 1900’s they were successful in making good wine from grapes grown in the open in Malton. In 1965 they sold the business to Tetley Walker Ltd along with their 55 pubs and in 1969 the brewery closed. The windows are a fine example of the industrial architecture of that period in history. Only the malting building survives as the rest of the brewery including a sixty-foot high chimney was demolished.

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5. Go along the narrow snicket to the left side of the Maltings; this is St Leonard’s Way leading to St Leonard’s Church and to the rear of the Old Lodgings. This 18th century building was once the White Swan Inn; originally three cottages. In 2010 it was purchased by the owners of the Old Lodge in Old Maltongate as additional accommodation for their establishment. There is a tale that this inn was very conveniently placed for the band that played regularly at St. Leonard’s Church on a Sunday morning. Once the sermon had begun the instrumentalists would adjourn to the White Swan until it was over.

6. The road ahead is Church Hill where stands St Leonard’s Church, originally a twelfth century chapel of ease to St Mary’s Church at Old Malton. It passed to the Church of England with the dissolution of the monasteries and was gifted back to the Roman Catholic Church in 1971. The bells are a ring of eight cast in 1768 by Lester & Pack of London. The clock was a gift from Earl Fitzwilliam in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. This particular spire was erected in the 19th century as the earlier tower lacked a spire top and was removed in 1853. In 1984 the spire of St Leonard’s church was struck by lightning and had to be completely rebuilt. When Charles Dickens wrote the famous ‘A Christmas Carol’ the church bells that were mentioned in the script were thought to be those of St. Leonard’s Church.

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7. Michael Parker was buried in St Leonard’s Graveyard. He was a gravedigger who buried 5000 people in 50 years, dying himself in 1823. A peculiar fellow, he used to keep St. Mark’s Eve watch on April 24, believing the ghosts of people who were to die that year would appear in the church porch. If anyone disagreed with him he would threaten to bury him or her face down so they could not scratch their way out. It was told that he had a collection of human bones in his home that he had dug up in the graveyard.

8. Continue down the hill and turn right at the end of the road onto Old Maltongate. As you walk along here on the right you will see a cottage that stands out from its neighbour, as the stone is lighter in colour. The Cottage that once stood here had many interesting features particularly in the bedroom. It was stylishly panelled and carved with old oak and part of the panelling could be raised up on hinges hiding an old bedstead in a recess in the wall. There was an ancient fireplace in the room and evidence that at one time there had been an entrance to another building. Below the basement was a place that may have served as a dungeon and there was an entrance to a subterranean passage leading to the Cross Keys Crypt and possibly to Malton Castle. The original cottage was demolished a few years ago and rebuilt as it is today.

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9. Next on your right is the Old Lodge. Dated 1604 it was once the Gatehouse for Lord Eure’s mansion built around 1569 that stood behind it. When his two nieces inherited the estate they could not agree as to how to share it so in 1674 the mansion was demolished by order of the court and divided stone by stone between them. The Old Lodge is all that remains; in 1690 weaving and linen cloth production were in evidence here and in the outbuildings. In 1996 under private ownership it was transformed into the charming hotel that stands today. It is said that the ghost of a ‘grey lady’ haunts the old chapel and one of the bedrooms.

10. Continue on past the row of cottages that house the estate office and turn right down the lane known as Orchard Fields. This is the site of the Roman Fort, Derventio, built AD 71; the history and findings are displayed on panels around the site which you may wish to browse. Behind the wall to the right of the path are the old Castle Gardens where once a Norman castle and then Lord Eure’s mansion stood. They are sometimes open to the public. If so you will see the entrance gates on the right before you reach the exit.

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11. Follow the path and take the exit at the far end of the lane onto the road then turn right down Sheepfoot Hill. On the left you will see a row of cottages and beyond those is the King’s Mill, a late 18th century corn mill that was destroyed by a fire and largely rebuilt in 1802. The river in that vicinity is believed to be where the Roman Ford was, 15 feet in width and leading to Church Street in Norton. King’s Mill has been converted to flats on private land and there is no access to the river.

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12. On the right you will see the fire station and from here as far as the playgroup at the end of this road, were the Workhouse buildings. Continue along Sheepfoot Hill and you will see the playgroup at the end of the road on the right. The building was built on the site of the original poor house, Springhall or ‘Spike’ as it was known. Built in 1735 it was knocked down, rebuilt and enlarged in 1789 to make provision for 120 inmates. Malton Poor Law took over in 1837 when it was further altered and extended to provide for 160 inmates in addition to male and female infirmaries and a mortuary. Typhoid came to the workhouse in 1932, possibly brought by a tramp from Newton on Ouse. 270 people in the town were infected and there were 27 fatalities including Dr G C Parkin aged 32 who had treated many of the ill. It took the town many years to recover. After the end of the workhouse system in 1930 it became a hospital under the old name of Springhall. Most of the buildings were demolished in the early 1950’s but some parts remain and can be seen in the present playgroup and fire station.

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13. Turn left and head over the County Bridge staying on the footpath. This stretch of river from here to the King’s Mill was known as the ‘English Jordan’ as Archbishop Paulinus is said to have baptized the Saxon King Edwin of Northumbria and many of his subjects here in the 7th century. Baptism was revived here around 1825-30 when the Baptists became established in the town but this ceased on the installation of a well in their chapel. It was briefly revived once again in 1863 when a new sect calling themselves the Christian Brethren baptised their members in the river much to the amusement of the crowds that gathered to watch.

14. There has been a bridge here from at least the 12th century, once the boundary for the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire. The Toll House stood on the island in the middle and the inhabitants paid half rates to each county. They also ran a sweet and cigarette shop from the house; the building was still standing in the 1950s. The island was known as one of the ‘Derwent Islands’ and in 1862 engineers found footings of Flamvill’s hospice of St. Nicholas here. This was one of three hospices in Malton for feeding the poor, the other two were at Broughton and the Cross Keys Inn in Wheelgate; they faded out by 1640. Another railway bridge had been planned to cross the river here, the intention being to serve the gasworks that were opposite King’s Mill but this came to nothing.  For over a hundred years the carters were kept employed transferring coal from the station half a mile away.

15. Cross over the road in the centre of the bridge and turn left. At the end of the bridge turn right onto the footpath on Norton Road. Follow the wall of the river then take the Riverside Walk on your right. . The riverside footpath was created in the 1980s and is part of the Centenary Way that runs from York Minster to Filey Brigg. Note the iron plaques set into the pavement illustrating local interest themes. As you walk along look across to Chandler’s Wharf flats where previously the warehouses of William & James Metcalfe stood, millers, corn merchants and seed men they were later taken over by Headley Wise & Son. Also on the site was the Albion Brewery that was established in 1830 and closed in 1857. Taylor & Browns stands where the breweries old granary and malt house once stood.
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16. Next to Chandler’s Wharf is the supermarket site. In 1771 a brewery stood there founded by the Russell family and in 1897 William Wrangham of the Crystal Brewery became a partner forming Russell and Wrangham Breweries. It was later taken over by Melbourne Breweries and later by Cameron’s. Russell’s also owned a flourmill and a tannery on that side of the river. These buildings were all demolished to make room for a supermarket.

17. The path you are on is the route of the old Derwent towpath, known as a 'roving' towpath as it crossed from bank to bank. It was occasionally necessary to ferry the horses across the river on the vessels they were towing. As the horses were pulling the barges along here on reaching Metcalfe’s flour mill they had to cross a wooden footbridge onto the island and emerge opposite to the house on County Bridge.

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18. Ahead you will see the Iron Railway Bridge. When the railway first arrived there was no easy access for Malton people to reach the station so a wooden bridge was built here. Then in 1870 the owners of the Cornmill, the building to the right by the river, required a railway branch line to run to their factory and warehouse so this Iron Railway Bridge was built to replace it.

19. At the end of the footpath look to your left and you will see Malton Railway Station. George Townsend Andrews built the railway in 1845 on the south bank in Norton as the north bank was already developed. This led to numerous difficulties over the years as the railway was unable to directly serve the businesses of Malton. However, the station still became the centre for distributing trade goods. In 1855 the river rights were bought by the railway and the river was no longer maintained and tolls were raised. This eventually led to the decline of the river trade. Christopher Dickens, the great-great grandson of Charles Dickens, arrived at Malton Station to open the first Dicken’s Festival in December 1985.

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20. Cross over the road and look over the bridge at what was known as Navigation Wharf, the head of the navigation. River trade was at its height in Queen Anne’s reign taking grain and other provisions to the west Riding and returning with coal and woollen goods. There could be 20 or more vessels along the river at any one time loading or discharging goods. The Owston Warehouse that you can see in the distance is probably one of the last remnants from those days.

21. Cross back over the bridge to the Cornmill; this flour mill was once in the hands of Hurtley & Sons but by 1887 it had become the Malton Biscuit Factory. Until the late 1950’s the branch line tracks were still insitu beneath the tarmac. Brandsby Agricultural Trading Association (BATA), agricultural merchants took the building over but in recent years when they moved out it was converted into flats.

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22. The next prominent building is Yates’, founded in 1845 by Ralph Yates who first set up the Derwent Foundry in Railway Street. As the business grew he expanded into agricultural machinery manufacture and in 1895 the current shop was built as a warehouse with space to keep and display all the iron moulds used at the foundry.

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23. Along Wells Lane is the Baptist Church, built in 1822 and a well was added later to perform baptisms after six baptisms were witnessed in the Derwent. The building to the left was formerly St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. The building was completed by 1841 after legal Catholic public worship returned to Malton and it included a small school at the side though later a permanent school was built at the rear. When St Leonard’s Church was returned to the Catholics in 1971 St Mary’s was retained as a parish hall but it was sold in 1991.


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