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Boltby Reservoir Office and Blacksmith's Shop

A Grade II Listed Building in Boltby, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2903 / 54°17'25"N

Longitude: -1.2374 / 1°14'14"W

OS Eastings: 449738

OS Northings: 488564

OS Grid: SE497885

Mapcode National: GBR MLST.XT

Mapcode Global: WHD8B.YFYB

Plus Code: 9C6W7QR7+42

Entry Name: Boltby Reservoir Office and Blacksmith's Shop

Listing Date: 28 January 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1448723

Location: Boltby, Hambleton, North Yorkshire, YO7

County: North Yorkshire

District: Hambleton

Civil Parish: Boltby

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Tagged with: Architectural structure


Office and blacksmith's shop, 1880, associated with the construction of Boltby Reservoir for the Thirsk District Water Company Limited.


Office and blacksmith's shop, 1880, associated with the construction of Boltby Reservoir for the Thirsk District Water Company Limited.

MATERIALS: timber-framed structure, with bituminised plank and muntin cladding, and corrugated galvanized steel sheeting.

PLAN: a rectangular five-bay plan.

EXTERIOR: a single-storey, five-bay structure, the office occupying the southern two-bays and a blacksmith's shop the northern three-bays. The structure stands on a level earth-cut platform. The front (south-west) elevation of the three-bay blacksmith's shop has a central doorway, flanked to the right by a three-panel Yorkshire sash window. The office is accessed by a central doorway, with a five-plank ledged door, beneath a narrow rectangular fanlight, approached by four stone steps. The door is flanked to either side by window frames, with timber sills. The rear elevation of the building is un-fenestrated and has a recessed central doorway with timber jambs and a four-plank ledged door. Both gable walls are blind; the south-east gable, and the plank and muntin gable roof have secondary corrugated sheeting applied to them. The gabled roof has deep eaves and no rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: the timber frame consists of substantial rectangular section wall posts, carrying heavy scantling plank wall plates, supporting the wall cladding. The gabled collar truss roof is exposed over the blacksmith's shop, it has off-set plank purlins, supporting the plank and muntin roof cladding. The ridge is supported centrally and at both ends by substantial timber posts. The interior of the blacksmith's shop appears to have been divided by a timber screen wall; however, only a timber wall batten remains in-situ, attached to a ridge post. The room has an earth floor and a quarry-faced stone forge hearth situated in the south-west corner. The hearth is lined with brick, an iron bellows tube projects from its left side and a stone flue rises towards the ridge. The plank wall to the left of the hearth is largely missing and has an extemporised repair in corrugated steel sheeting. The rear wall has a four-plank door at its southern end, while the front wall has a central doorway, flanked by a Yorkshire sash window that illuminates the hearth.

The office has timber floor boards laid on squared off rough-cut joists, the walls and ceiling are lined by fielded timber panelling, with a timber bench seat spanning the south-east wall, and a small cupboard within the depth of the rear wall. The panelling is separated from the outer wall by a cavity space. An off-set cast-iron cooking range is situated in the north-west corner of the room and shares the stone chimney stack of the blacksmith's forge. To the right of the fireplace, the lower two-thirds of the wall is panelled, and the upper third is crudely clad in timber planks. The fireplace has a classical Georgian-style painted timber surround, with fluted pilasters, a ribbed pulvinated frieze, and a corniced mantle shelf. The doorway is set between two substantial rectangular section wall posts.


The Thirsk and District Water Order of 1879, was granted to the Thirsk District Water Company Limited, authorising the company to establish an earth dam reservoir at the head of the Lunshaw Beck Valley, and to lay conduits to nearby townships. A deed was drawn up on 12 June 1880, between the water company and the landowner John Walker Esquire of Mount St John, which granted the water company easement rights to construct Boltby Reservoir and to give use of the reservoir and to lay and maintain the raw water main. Construction work commenced almost immediately, with a road laid to a navvy camp, on the eastern side of the valley, above the site of the dam. On the completion of the work in about 1882, the temporary timber buildings of the camp were taken down for re-use, with the exception of what is thought to be the gang master’s office and blacksmith's shop, which was retained to permit the on-going maintenance of the reservoir. During the C20, the former office was used as a Fishing Club House. Boltby Reservoir remained in use for water supply until 2003, but following severe storm damage in June 2005, Yorkshire Water discontinued its use in 2006. The dam was modified to hold back considerably less water and as a consequence, the fishing club ceased using the building.

By their very nature, navvy construction camps were temporary affairs, whether on the work site itself, or the workers accommodation camps. These itinerant hutments were built to support major engineering projects such as canals, railways and reservoirs, which were generated by the Industrial Revolution and the resultant growth of urban populations. The construction camps were generally built in isolated rural areas, in order that construction facilities and the workforce were close at hand. The quality of accommodation varied greatly and is known to have often reflected the differences in the social hierarchies of the different classes of the workforce. Once a particular engineering project was completed, the temporary buildings were dismantled and the navvies moved on, leaving little physical evidence of their existence or their social hierarchies. Although the completed engineering projects generally remain as major features in the landscape, the associated construction sites and camps do not, and mostly survive as earthworks, or buried archaeology; consequently, extant timber navvy structures, particularly those associated with construction sites are extremely rare.

Reasons for Listing

Boltby Reservoir Office and Blacksmith’s Shop, built 1880, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a rare survival of an 1880s temporary, timber-construction site office and blacksmith’s shop;
* although a modest building, it retains its original plan-form of blacksmith's shop and site office, both of which are highly legible;
* it is relatively intact and retains an unusually good survival of original fittings and fixtures, including a blacksmith's hearth, panelling and a fireplace to the office.

Historic interest:

* part of a former temporary construction camp associated with later-C19 expansion in provision of public utilities;
* it provides a rare insight into the working conditions of later-C19 navvies involved in the construction of a major late-C19 engineering project.

External Links

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