Littlebeck Alum Works

The earliest known owner of this works was Sir John Bolles, from around 1660. The works were run by Mr Blount of London from 1698. Then in 1753 the works were bought by John Matthews, Samuel Hawlett and David Burton and they were improved and new houses built for the workers.

A wharf was built on the Esk near Ruswarp to bring urine, kelp and coal in and ship alum out. In 1765 the river was surveyed and it was found to have silted up and been polluted by the alum waste. The owners were forced to pay £170 per year to lease a water mill on the river (to make up for lost earnings), clear the river and Whitby Harbour and all waste from the works had to be dumped at sea or above the high water mark.

The owner, John Matthews, eventually became bankrupt and sold the works. They were bought by John Danby who managed to reduce costs and increase output but by 1805 competition from the larger works forced it to close.

Today the works are part of Littlebeck Woods, managed by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and are on the popular Coast To Coast Walk.

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Please note that this location map is for information purposes only and does not indicate that the site has public access. Always get landowner permission before entering any site.