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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 station 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.
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.
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.
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.