title="Eskdaleside cum Ugglebarnby Parish Council in North Yorkshire">

A Short History of the Parish of Eskdaleside-cum-Ugglebarnby

Sleights, itself, is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, but both Eskdaleside and Ugglebarnby are. This Parish has a double barrelled name because the Parish of All Saints, Ugglebarnby and that of St John the Evangelist, Eskdaleside, were united in 1829. This amalgamation lives on in the name of the Parish. The poplar name of Sleights has no part in the ecclesiastical history of the village.

From 1086 there are no records of Sleights until 1396 when Sleights is first recorded in the Rolls of Whitby Abbey. At that time Sleights would have been a collection of inferior dwellings. The area at this time was greatly depressed due to the onset of the Black Death between 1370 and 1380. Thereafter, the area began to repopulate (slowly) with one or two larger houses appearing. Esk Hall is mentioned as Abbey property in 1540, built by Cockerill.

Sleights all was built in the 14th century, and it is recorded that the Lord of Ugglebarnby lived there. By 1850 the hall had fallen into ruin and was rebuilt as the present building.

The area was first surveyed in 1849 as part of the official Act of 1791 Ordnance Survey of the whole country. In 1853 it shows the area of Ugglebarnby Parish was 2470 acres and Eskdaleside 1939 acres. The population at the last census was 1981. Sleights village is in the main excluded from the National Park.

Sleights grew very slowly due to difficult travelling conditions, and people tended to stay put. The most dramatic change came with the coming of the turnpike roads around 1756 and the railway in 1840. This opened up the whole area to travel and trade.

Sleights has had two industries in its past, the first being the Alum industry between 1650 and 1830, with large workings at Littlebeck, Eskdaleside, Hole Bank and Thornhill. This brought a large influx of workers to the area and many rows of cottages were built to accommodate them. This was followed by Iron Stone mining, with smelting works being set up at Grosmont (which was then in our Parish). Again, a great many people were employed, but the industry declined due to better quality iron ore being found in the Cleveland Hills. This decline was complete by the turn of the century when many workers emigrated, and a 'W Morgan' is listed as being the Emigrating Officer for our Parish. Many sailed from Whitby to such places as Canada. Since then Sleights has not developed much, with most of the building being in-fill. The village remains mainly agricultural as it was centuries ago.

In 1834 Sleights got its first National school, situated on a piece of land at the junction of Coach Road and Eskdaleside. Henry Walker Yeoman gave this piece of land for 'five shillings of lawful English money'. The school is now a residential property called 'Inkwells'. The present school was built in 1968, and is just off Coach Road at the entrance to Ingham Close.

There is a village pump situated half-way up Coach Road, erected in 1859. Before that a well, with rope and bucket, was used. The pump was last in use when the great floods of 1930 disrupted the water supply to Sleights. The village stocks stood just behind the pump, although nothing remains of these.

Sleights has two bridges over the Esk: the main road bridge built in 1938 and the footbridge at Briggswath built in 1940. The first bridge at Sleights was built in 1190 for furtherance of trade, a covenant being made between the Abbot Peter of Whitby and Reginald de Rosels, Lord of the land on the west of the Esk. Previous to this there was only a ford or 'wath'. This bow bridge was washed away by flood. It was replaced by a three arched stone bridge in 1720 – this too was washed away by flood. A temporary bridge followed with a single carriageway for vehicular traffic with a cantilever footway. This bridge carried vehicular traffic until 1940 when it became unsafe. All vehicular traffic was then routed over the main road bridge still in use today.

Sleights has always had its own beacon, but little is known of the original as there are no visible remains. However, its location is clearly marked on the 'Enclosure Map' of 1760. The only description of the beacon says it was on the edge of the moor some 80 chains south west of a bench mark on the church yard corner and close south of the disused quarry above Partridge Nest Farm on Eskdaleside. Eskdaleside-cum-Ugglebarnby Parish Council erected a new beacon on this site to commemorate the Millennium 2000 AD.

This short history of the parish of Eskdaleside-cum-Ugglebarnby was compiled by Cllr E M Preston, Vice-Chairman of the Parish Council

Page last updated: 14 February, 2014