The Manure Company

Manure Company
The mill and works of the Malton Farmers’ Manure and Trading Company were situated near the Malton railway station. The original foundation of these was in 1832 when Mr. James Wise erected a mill for bone crushing, and then in 1874 this was taken over and registered as the "Malton Farmers' Manure and Trading Company". This became a flourishing business under the guidance of Mr. William Hodgson, manager, and manufactured and supplied manures and feeding stuffs. The business provided good dividends to its shareholders. The smell caused in the town of the processes being operated by the company and the storage of bones and fish material came to the fore in 1878 when the Local Board of Health brought an action for 'nuisance.' [1] A number of people gave evidence at this. However, it was concluded that although there had been a nuisance, it was not injurious to public health.
On Saturday 9th December 1893, a fire completely gutted the mill. [2] The works had the first use of electric light in Malton [3] but the fire destroyed the dynamo. Efforts of the fire brigade prevented the fire spreading to the warehouse.
The works re-started on Wednesday, 7th March 1894. The ceremony of re-opening the works and formally installing the new electric lighting apparatus was performed by Mr. W.H. rose, chairman of directors 'who addressed the workmen at length, thanking them and the manager for their energy in assisting in the re-erection.' [4]

[1] York Herald, 23 December 1878
[2] York Herald, 12 December 1893
[3] Yorkshire Gazette, 25 February 1893
[4] Yorkshire Gazette, 10 March 1894

The following article is taken from the Yorkshire Gazette series "Malton Trades and Industries:
The company with which this article deals was formed in 1874, but the business which was then taken over had been in existence for several years. The premises opposite the railway station “were finished and occupied as a bone mill” – to quote the diary of a deceased Maltonian – in 1862, and the business was carried on by Mr. J.H. Wise under the name of J.H. Wise and Co. The present company was formed under the name of the Malton Farmers’ Manure and Trading Co., with the object of supplying agriculturists, or rather enabling them to supply themselves with chemical manures and “every description of agricultural manure of proved value as a fertiliser, at a price which will simply pay a fair commercial interest on the capital employed in the undertaking.” With this end in view the management was placed in the hands of agriculturists, and the first directors were Messrs. Digby Cayley (chairman), Tranmer, Coulson, Robert Boulton, Robert Hall, William H. Rose, Richard Smeeton, and Seth Tinsley, with Mr. Edward Taylor as secretary and general manager. The office was at this time in St. Michael-st., but but some years later the present commodious offices in Wheelgate were taken. The capital of the company was £20,000, composed of £10 shares. In a prospectus of the company it is claimed that the company was meeting a want very generally felt among farmers, and the prospectus adds that “it is not necessary to remind agriculturists how much it is to their advantage to buy manures which they may feel perfectly certain they are genuine.”
Since the formation of the company the business has largely developed, and the mills at Norton have been considerably enlarged.
Used at first solely for bone crushing, the works are now fitted with intricate machinery for dissolving and grinding bones and the manufacture of mineral superphosphates. All kinds of artificial manures for different crops and for all soils are also compounded. Bones are crushed to a large extent in the form of meal and quarter-inch dust which are extensively used by Wold farmers for turnip growing. Much attention is also given to the making of various kinds of manure material to suit different crops, and in this direction the company do a large trade with farmers over a wide area. Necessarily, the bulk of the company’s business is done with agriculturists in the immediate district, but the company’s products are in demand at Pickering, Kirbymoorside, Scarborough, Helmsley, Thirsk, Bedale, Northallerton, Ripon, Leyburn, York, Easingwold, Darlington, Stockton, Newcastle, etc. As showing the trade which the company does it may be mentioned that about two thousand tons of raw bones are ground and dissolved in a season, and the mills turn out about eight thousand tons of manures in the same period. The season lasts from the middle of February till June, and between twenty and forty men are employed at the mills, according to the season. The manufacture of mineral superphosphates is an important branch of the company’s business, the raw phosphate for this purpose being imported from Tunis.
The company was the first business concern to introduce the electric light in Malton. The work of installation was completed at the mills in January, 1893, and the light was formally switched on by the late Mr. W.H. Rose, the then chairman of the board of directors. At the same time a gas-making apparatus was installed in order to produce power to drive the engines. In December of the same year a fire broke out at the works, with the result that the mill was completely gutted, and the electric light installation, including the dynamo, was destroyed. The damage was said to be over £1,300. Although the fire was so disastrous work was not entirely suspended, and in a short time the mill was rebuilt. The whole of the directorate are agriculturists, and the shareholders are largely composed of farmers. The present directors are Messrs. J.A. Coulson, Scarborough; H. Prodham, Sherburn; F.W. Buttle, Kirkham Manor, Driffield; and W. Fisher, Amotherby. Mr. W. Southwick is the general manager and secretary, he having succeeded the late Mr. W. Hodgson in 1902 [4]

An earlier article suggests the company was formed by taking over and amalgamating the businesses of Mr. Edward Taylor who became the secretary and general manager, and, Messrs. J.H. Wise & Co. who were already bone-crushers in the town. The same article states that 'the bones, purely English, collected from neighbouring towns chiefly, are stacked to an enormous height, along with other raw materials, in the yard outside. Here they are carefully sorted by experienced men, who pick out all the horns, hoofs, bits of glass, iron and other unmentionables ... ... The mill reduces the bones to various sizes, half-inch, quarter-inch, and dust, as may be required' [5]
[4] Yorkshire Gazette Dec 2nd 1911

Industrial Safety

In the Victorian era, the sense of 'health and safety' was not highly developed. It is easy to conjure up a picture of a town of factories with unguarded machinery, building taking place without scaffolding etc and the new hazards introduced by the railway. Farms outside the town had their fair share of incidents as mechanisation was introduced. Not surprisingly, accident reports appeared in the local press with increasing frequency and sometimes sensationalism.
William Rollinson, employed by Messrs. Russell & Son, while boiling some liquor, fell into the copper and was severely scalded ... [1]
James Smith, an 8 year old boy, while playing in the brewery of Messrs. Charles Rose & Co., fell into a large vat of ale. Being newly brewed and with a thick crust of yeast on top, rescue was more difficult. Mr. Potter, one of the firm present at the inquest, undertook to place a guard rail in front of the vat. After consulting with the Excise, both yeast and beer were destroyed ... [2]
Mark Ramsden ... was at work in the bone mill belonging to Messrs. Booth ... which is worked by steam power ... made use of his fingers for the purpose of liberating the accumulated bones in their progress through the mill, when, unfortunately, his shirt sleeve was caught in the works, and his hand and arm dragged in with the bones, and literally ground up with them ... Doctor Exley removed the fractured parts, amputating immediately below the shoulder joint [3]
George Moon had his hand and arm fearfully shattered at the new roller Flour Mills, Messrs. Metcalfe and Sons, Malton. He was cleaning a cog-wheel near one of the rollers, and is supposed to have let the waste be drawn in by the cogs. In trying to extricate it, his hand was drawn in and smashed up above the wrist. Dr. Hartley had subsequently to amputate the hand and forearm [4]
Richard Hurtley, corn miller was in the engine room, and passing near to the fly wheel came in contact with one of the arms, by which his head and arms were severely fractured ... death having taken place instantaneously ... [5]

[1] York Herald, 2 May 1846
[2] York Herald, 28 September 1895
[3] Yorkshire Gazette, 8 March 1845
[4] Yorkshire Gazette, 2 June 1884
[5] Yorkshire Gazette, 2 August 1856

The Iron Foundries

There would have been great demand from the surrounding area for metalwork for agricultural implements and parts for machinery in the mills and breweries in the town. The ‘Malton Foundry’ was for some time prior to 1836 was in the hands of Mr. James Booth [1]. In 1836, Thomas Buxton announced [1] ‘that he has taken the above foundry with the extensive stock of Models; and where he continues to manufacture and supply Casting for Engines, Millwork, and machinery of every description, Patent and other Pumps, Gates and Palisading of the newest patterns; Spoutings, pipes, etc.’ All may have not gone well with the transfer of the business however since in July 1836 there was a legal case Booth v Buxton for trover, arising out of a disputed right to the foundry at Malton. The case ended in a juror being withdrawn, leaving each party to pay its costs. Whilst the case was proceeding, Booth, against whom an indictment was preferred by Buxton, for damaging machinery, was called to the Crown Court to take his trial for the felony [2]. In the 1871 census Thomas Buxton is listed in Yorkersgate as an ‘iron and brass founder, employing 4 men and 1 boy.’ His son John is at the same address and described as an engine fitter. In April 1877, the business is put up for sale with ‘instructions from Mr. John Buxton (who is giving up the trade)’ to sell by auction ...’ [3] A full advertisement appeared shortly afterwards which listed the plant etc. [4].
The ‘Old Foundry’ in the Cattle Market was run by the Gibson family, who also had similar interests in Driffield. An advertisement in 1844 [5] placed by E. Gibson, Iron Founder, Engineer, Mill-wright and Machinist, ‘begs to inform his friends and the public that he has taken the foundry established and carried on by his Father and Brother ...’, and also refers to the show room in the Cattle-Market. It looks likely that Thomas Read eventually succeeded to this business as he is listed with premises in both the Market Place and cattle Market in Whites Directory, 1867.

[1] Yorkshire Gazette, 16 April 1836
[2] Sheffield Independent, 16 July 1836
[3] Leeds Mercury, 23 April 1877
[4] Leeds Mercury, 28 April 1877
[5] Yorkshire Gazette, 11 May 1844


It was probable that Mr. E. Johnson operated the original biscuit factory as his occupation was given in a marriage announcement in June 1859 ‘On Thursday week, at St. Leonard’s Church, Malton, Mr. E. Johnson, biscuit manufacturer, to Maria, third daughter of Mr. John Hudson, ironmonger, all of Malton.’ [1] Edward Johnson is listed in the 1861 Census as a 'biscuit manufacturer' in Low street. That same census lists 8 'biscuit makers', mostly under 16 years old, a 10 and a 12 year old apprentice, and three others including a 9 year old boy.
On Wednesday, 19th February 1868, the Derwent Biscuit Works were destroyed by fire, together with machinery and stock, owned by Messrs. Johnson and Taylor. [2] A further report suggests the scale of the fire ‘The Malton Gas Works and other property were for some hours in the greatest danger. Had it not been for the plentiful supply of water from the newly-accomplished public works, the most part of the business premises of Malton must inevitably have gone down.’[3] The loss was estimated at £7,000 - £8,000, partly insured by ‘The Royal....The loss will be very heavily felt in Malton, not alone by the proprietors but by the large number of hands whom they employ – the majority of which were dependent on this manufactory alone for employment, there being none other of a similar nature hereabouts; and the calamity suggests to them either great distress or a speedy removal.’ [4]
Soon after the fire, the Malton Board of Health met to discuss ‘the inefficient state of the fire brigade.’ Apparently ‘neither of the board’s engines could be got into play.’ [5]

That was not the end of biscuits in Malton as it was reported early in 1883 that ‘there is every prospect of a company being successfully floated for the establishment of a biscuit manufactory on a large scale at Malton. A biscuit factory formerly existed there, but was burnt down about fifteen years ago...... A committee has been formed to meet an engineer who is coming to inspect some suggested sites’ [6] The first general meeting of the Malton Biscuit Mill Company Limited was held on 8th September, 1887. It was formed ‘for the manufacture of biscuits of all kinds of confectionery, cakes, and for the supply of whole wheat meal flour.’ The mill was capable of manufacturing 8 – 12 tons of biscuits and three and a half tons of fancy cakes per week. When a certain percentage of dividend is paid, the employees were to get a share of the profits. Earl Fitzwilliam was said to own the mill and to have subscribed for 100 shares. [7]
In October 1890 the company was advertising for ‘A Foreman Biscuit Baker’ and offering ‘constant employment to a steady efficient workman.’ [8]
In 1893 the company was charged under the Factory Acts for employing boys under the age of 16 who were unregistered and uncertificated as it was necessary to have all boys examined within seven days of the commencement of their employment, and certificates of fitness obtained. [9] The company struggled to get established and in 1894 an extraordinary meeting concluded ‘that the company be wound up voluntarily.’ [10] A dividend was never paid and 150 shareholders lost money [11] After meeting all liabilities there was said to be just £1 18s [12]
Possibly, the works were taken over by Messrs. McVitie and Price as an advertisement appeared in November 1894 advertising the works TO LET and stating they were being temporarily occupied by them. [13]
Finally, Murderous Assault at Norton. Robert Allen, aged 15, son of Richard Allen, of Greengate, was taken into custody on Wednesday evening, and charged with unlawfully cutting and wounding Charles Stelling, of Norton, on the 4th inst. Both employed at the Derwent Biscuit Works [14]

The Brandsby Agricultural Trading Association took possession of this building in Railway-st from July 1919 and moved their business here from Brandsby shortly after [12]

[1] Leeds Times, 11 June 1859
[2] The Morning Post, 22 February 1868
[3] Sheffield Independent, 21 February 1868
[4] York Herald, 22 February 1868
[5] Leeds mercury, 27 February 1868
[6] Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough, 6 January 1883
[7] Sheffield Independent, 10 September 1887
[8] Reading Mercury, 11 October 1890
[9] York Herald, 31 July 1893
[10] Yorkshire Gazette, 6 January 1894
[11] Yorkshire Gazette, 30 May 1914
[12] Yorkshire Gazette, 5 July 1919
[13]] Glasgow Herald, 24 November 1894
[14] Yorkshire Gazette, 7 Jul 1866


In his fascinating book on “Yorkshire” Mr. J.S. Fletcher remarks that in Malton on a market day you can hear more talk of wheat and barley than in any other town of the same size, or even larger. The truth of this statement can be easily demonstrated, and it is not accidental that a certain part of Yorkersgate was once known as Mark-lane. The corn trade in Malton is still of great importance, and the kindred business of flour milling continues to occupy a prominent position.
Malton possesses two flourishing milling businesses, and the mills along the side of the river give the town an air of industrial importance. A recent article in our “Bygone Maltonians” series dealt with the late Mr. William Metcalfe, who was the well-known principal of the firm Messrs. W. Metcalfe and Sons, Castlegate and Yorkersgate, although it should be borne in mind that the firm goes back several generations.
In pre-railway times Castlegate and Low-st. was the most important part of the town so far as concerned industries, which comprised a tanyard, three flour mills, four breweries, several coal staithes, and later a biscuit mill. From these centres the district extending over twenty miles was supplied, and consequently this part of the town was exceedingly busy. In those days corn intended for grinding purposes was brought to Malton from the district farms by road, and the unloading of the large wagons gave employment to a number of local labourers, who were dubbed “Butcher-corner” men.” From the fact that they used to congregate at Butcher-corner when waiting for work. It was no uncommon thing for Wheelgate and Castlegate to be lined with wagons awaiting their turn to enter the cornfactors’ yards to be unloaded.
Messrs. Metcalfe had a large number of vessels on the river, which were used for conveying grain to the West Riding, and returned from the collieries laden with house and engine coal. In a recent interesting speech Ald. R. Metcalfe said he could remember as many as seventy vessels plying backwards and forwards bringing grain and coals from and to Malton. All this had bee done away with, owing to the advent of the railway, and the Alderman added that he believed his firm was the last which had “one single, solitary vessel plying on the river.” He gave it as his opinion that the river navigation would not be reintroduced owing to its slowness when compared with the railway.
Messrs. Metcalfe were the first firm in Malton to follow the lead of the larger mills in introducing the roller system for the manufacture of flour. In March, 1898, Messrs. Metcalfes’ mills were gutted by fire, and on the rebuilding of the premises they were fitted with the most up-to-date machinery.
Another old firm carrying on business at Malton is that of Messrs. Russells and Wrangham. The firm was founded by Mr. James Russell in 1771, and was known for many years by the name of James Russell and Son. In 1897 Messrs. Russells acquired the business of Messrs. William Wrangham Ltd., and the firm’s name was then altered to its present title of Messrs. Russells and Wrangham Ltd.
Of the bygone milling firms perhaps the best known is that of Messrs. Hurtley who carried on business first at Old Malton and afterwards at the large premises in Railway-st., which they vacated on moving the business to Hull, where it is still continued. Then Messrs. Samuel and W. King had a mill near the present gas works, and this firm carried on a large trade with York shopkeepers. This was before the coming of the railway, and Messrs. King used to send flour to York by road. For many years the firm’s wagons, which left Malton on Friday night each week, and returned from York the next day, were one of the principal means of communication between the two places. Large quantities of goods were conveyed by the wagons, and even passengers were carried. There are still living several Maltonians whose first journey to York was accomplished in the wagons carrying the weekly supply of flour to the city.
There used to be an old windmill for the grinding of corn in Middlecave, on the site of the Uplands. The mill was carried on by Mr. David Blair, grandfather to Mr. D.S. Blair, and a large number of the smaller farmers took their corn to be ground at this mill. If we remember rightly, the sails of the mill were blown off, and eventually the mill was pulled down and Mr. Ed. Rose built the Uplands on the site.
An article on the milling industry would hardly be complete without a reference to the Beck Mills, Norton, carried on by Mr. A.S. Ash. The mill has a most rustic appearance, and has been the hunting ground of many noted artists.

Malton Trades and Industries: No 3. Milling Yorkshire Gazette 25th November 1911

At some point the mill of W. Metcalfe & Sons became a subsidiary of Leetham & Sons, of York. In September 1928 it was taken over by Messrs. Rank, of Hull. At that time Mr. H. Wise was managing director and 'could not say whether it was intended to continue milling, or whether the premises would be used simply as a store.' [1] Clearly milling stopped within months as in March 1929 a newspaper advertisement announced the 'Dismantling Metcalf's flour mill, Malton, all Machinery for Sale at knockout prices, and including Sifting Machines, Elevators, Worms, Dickeys, etc., and many items of interest to farmers. Send for catalogue. Richard Sizer, Ltd., Wilmington, Hull [2] Further advertising took place in June, including the sale of the boiler [3]

[1] The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 26th September 1928.
[2] The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 16th March 1929
[3] The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 26th June 1929

The Middlecave Windmill.

Reference has been made above to the windmill that used to stand in Middlecave. In 1862 this was operated by Mr. David Watson, whose wife Ann hanged herself 'after being in a desponding way for some time.' [1] Mr Watson can be seen at Middlecave in the 1861 census. However the 1851 census shows a David Blair as a miller in Middlecave and he returns in the1871 census.
[1] Yorkshire Gazette, 23rd August 1862

Contact me | Sitemap
Business | Census | Land & Property | Maltonians | Newspapers | Old Pictures & Maps | Railway | River Derwent
Streets | Topics & Events | Town Guides | Walks | Sources
Apprentices | Banks | Breweries | Cemetery | Floods | Health | Industry | Photographers | Police & Fire
Pubs & Beerhouses | Secret Orders | Talbot Hotel | Utilities | Workhouse | World War One | Worship