What was the Town Like?

One can begin to build a picture of what Malton was like in the 1850s by reading the report of the General Board of Health regarding the Sanitary Condition of Malton, written in 1854 [1]. What follows is based on my reading of that report. In 1851 the population of Malton was 7,661 and there were 1,545 houses, so around 5 people in each house. This was just an average, browse my transcript of the 1851 census to see how much this could vary. A quarter of the deaths were caused by 'zymotic diseases' (fevers and contagious diseases (e.g. typhus and typhoid fevers, smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, whooping cough, cholera, diphtheria etc.) Medical opinion considered the incidence of fever was due to stagnant refuse near and within houses, and to the general filthy state of streets, lanes, courts and yards which were without proper sewers and drains. The larger portion of the population lived in small houses, having no drainage, and imperfect means of ventilation. The water supply was from pumps and wells, carried to the place of use, and which was often stored in open vessels in living rooms where it became 'tainted by absorbing gases of decomposition.' In parts the town was overcrowded. There were courts of cottages, entered by covered passages, in which privies, cesspools, and pigsties have been improperly placed. Some old houses are thatched; the greatest number are covered with red tiles; a few of the newer houses are slated. Most of the old homes are built of wall stone limewashed externally. The living rooms are small and low; the bedrooms are very low, the roofs spring from the side walls some three feet above the floor. Many rooms are let off in separate tenements. The streets are partially formed of broken stone, with paved channels; some are boulder-paved, refuse and slop water drainage from the courts and houses flowing on to the streets, and over the surface. Large ash-middens, privies, and cesspools are crowded amidst dwelling-houses, beneath room windows, and even underneath sleeping rooms. Rent for houses of two rooms range from £3 to £4 and 2s3d a quarter rates.

  • [1] York Herald, 15 July 1854
Where is/was that Street?

Over the years and as the town has developed, streets have appeared, disappeared and even been renamed. In Malton Streets the occurrence of the streets and yards through the various censuses, together with the locations of the less obvious ones is shown. It is hoped that this table will help those unfamiliar with the town and also begin to show when streets and yards appeared or disappeared. A big thank you to Larraine Williams for sharing her research on this.

House Numbering

House Numbering was under discussion by the Local Board in July 1891 [1] as a letter had been received from Earl Fitzwilliam's steward who wrote that "he did not consider it necessary, considering the size of the town, and it would be objectionable in many ways." The Local Traders' Association had passed a resolution approving of the scheme. The 1901 Census included house numbers. I have not found a reference as to when numbering was brought in and my earliest sighting is an announcement in November 1893 [2] of the death of William Lightowler, on the 24th inst., at 5, Wheelgate, Malton.

  • [1] Yorkshire Gazette, 1 August 1891
  • [2] York Herald, 27 November 1893


Historic Maps

The Ordnance Survey is a Government department founded in 1791. Mapping commenced in the south-east of England to support military purposes - at that time the threat of French invasion. An exercise to map the whole of England was started in the 19th century and maps of 6 inches to a mile and 25 inches to a mile were produced. The country was divided into a grid with sheet numbers corresponding to the 6" to 1 mile scale maps. Each 6" to 1 mile scale map was then divided into sixteen maps at a scale of 25" to 1 mile. New Malton can be found on sheet 124 of the larger scale map series. The centre of the town can be found on sheet 124.6. The latter map shows individual plots/properties and is available for 1890, 1910 and 1927 - these are approximate years and not necessarily the year of the survey. These maps have been digitised by the East Riding of Yorkshire Archive Service and can be viewed here. This latter edition can also be purchased from Alan Godfrey Maps at a modest price.

The North Yorkshire County Record Office has a small collection of maps, as shown in their catalogue: 1770 Plan of Malton 43” x 20” scale 12 chains: 1” ref: ZPB M 1/1 1801 Plan of Borough of Malton 38" x 31" scale 8 chains : 1" ref: ZPB M 1/3 1801 Plan of Malton 23" x 16" no scale given ref: ZPB M 1/4 1809 Plan of Malton by Ralph Burton 55" x 41" no scale given ref: ZPB M 1/6 1826 Malton Market Place Sketch of buildings etc. to be taken down for the new Market Place 26" x 21" ref: ZPB M 1/9 1844 Plan of town 38" x 28" scale 2 chains : 1" ref: ZPB M 1/12 1853 Malton Town Consists of 1853 OS sheets 50" x 38" scale 1 mile: 5' ref: ZPB M 1/17

Mid 20th Century Map

This is a mid 20th Century town plan showing all the main streets.

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18th Century View

Possibly one of the earliest known pictures, an 18th Century view of Malton from the river engraved by Samuel Middiman.

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At The Time Of The 1867 Floods

The Illustrated London News dated 9th February 1867 carried an article 'The Great Floods in Yorkshire' accompanied by this engraving 'the view at Malton'

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Malton From The River

Engraved by Walker & Storer, drawn by F Nicholson, published 1794 by Harrison of Paternoster Road, London

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Malton in the 1840s

A brief paragraph appears in the Yorkshire Gazette in July 1833 stating 'Considerable improvement was made in this town during the last year by the introduction of gas, with which the streets are now lighted. Another improvement, we are happy to learn, has been determined upon - the flagging the whole of the footpaths throughout the town - which will be proceeded with immediately. This improvement has long been wanted, and will add much to the accommodation of the public' [1] Articles and correspondence describing reminiscences of people, businesses and appearance of the town in the 1840s as recorded in late 1907/early 1908 in the Yorkshire Gazette. See here.

  • [1] Yorkshire Gazette, 13 July 1833
Town Guides

The town guides have traditionally given the Council, and Malton, Norton and District Chamber of Trade an opportunity to publicise the virtues of the town to visitors and newcomers. Tradesmen also get an opportunity to advertise. Typical content is a brief history of Malton, photographs of the main thoroughfares, a map, places of worship and education, together with accommodation and ideas for exploring the surrounding area.

Thirteen years have elapsed since the first edition of this booklet was issued …' says the introduction to what must be the second edition of Malton - The Official Guide (1953-54) 'In that period the characteristics of Malton have not altered to any great degree. Most noticeable, perhaps, are the comparatively new houses and flats erected by the Council under the provisions of various Housing Acts.'

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North Riding Register of Deeds

If you are interested in a particular property or transactions of an individual they can be researched through the North Riding Register of Deeds at the North Riding County Record office. These cover the period 1736 to 1970. You might find annexed plans, mentions of parties to the transaction and possibly price paid.


The Peasey Hill Development

The Peasey Hill development was an attempt to bring affordable housing to the working people in Malton. Tenders were invited from builders in the Yorkshire Gazette, 29 November 1919.

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Work commenced late in 1923 as announced in the Malton Messenger 1, December 1923

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Planning & Building Control

Possibly the first attempts at improving the planning of the streets and buildings therein were made by the Malton Local Board of Health in May 1855, signified by two announcements in the local newspapers.

THE BOARD HEREBY GIVE NOTICE, that the Provisions of the new "Public Health Act, 1848," with respect to all NEW STREETS will be strictly enforced. By Section 72 it is enacted, "That one Month at least before any Street is newly laid out as aforesaid, written notice shall be given to the Local Board of Health, showing the intended Level and Width thereof; and the Level and Width of every such street shall be fixed by the said Local Board. And it shall not be lawful to lay out, make or build upon any such Street, otherwise than in accordance with the Level and Width so fixed. And whosoever shall lay out, make, or build upon any such Street otherwise than in accordance with the Level and Width fixed by the said Local Board, shall be liable to a Penalty not exceeding £20 for every day during which he shall permit or suffer such Street to continue to be improperly laid out, made, or built upon." Any Street laid out otherwise than in accordance with the Level and Width so fixed, or any Building built in any such Street otherwise than in accordance with such Level and Width, is to be altered in such manner as the case may require; and the expenses incurred by the Local Board in so doing shall be repaid by the Offender. By order, Samuel Walker, Clerk Malton, 3rd May, 1855

THE BOARD HEREBY GIVE NOTICE, that the Provisions of the "Public Health Act, 1848," and the "Towns Improvement Clauses Act, 1847," now in force within the Borough, with regard to Building and Rebuilding, to be strictly complied with. By Section 53, of the first-mentioned Act, it is enacted, “That fourteen days at the least before beginning to dig or lay out of the Foundations of or for any New House, or to rebuild any House pulled down to the extent aforesaid, the Person intending so to build or rebuild shall give to the Local Board of Health written notice thereof, together with the Level or intended Level of the Cellars or lowest Floor, and the situation or construction of the Privies and Cesspools to be built, constructed or used in connection with such House. And it shall not be lawful to begin to build or rebuild any such House, or to build or construct any such Privy or Cesspool, until the particulars so required to be stated have been approved by the said Local Board. And in default of such Notice, or if any such House, Privy, or Cesspool be built, rebuilt, or constructed as aforesaid, without such approval, or in any respect contrary to the Provisions of the Act. The Offenders shall be liable to a penalty of not exceeding £50. And the said Local Board may, if they shall think fit, cause such House, Privy, or Cesspool to be altered, pulled down, or otherwise dealt with as the case may require, and the expenses incurred by them in so doing shall be repaid by the Offender."

Further information may be obtained on application to the Clerk By order, Samuel Walker Malton, 3rd May, 1855 Clerk to the Board

Toilets in Chancery Lane

In August 1893, the Malton Board of Health noted the completion of the new urinals and closets in Chancery-lane, and the chairman moved an amendment to the committee's recommendation that 1d should be charged for the use of the ladies' closet, but on a vote being taken, the proposal to charge one penny was adhered to by six votes to four.

York Herald, 31 August 1893


Malton History The Town

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