Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fruit press & potato houses, Glaisdale

On my way to view a potato house near Mountain Ash Farm I came across this old fruit press against a rather large old oak tree. This picture also appears in An Illustrated guide to stone antiquities on the north yorkshire moors' by Elizabeth Ogilvie.

And this is the potato house. Not many in this part of the UK but these were used to store potatoes in winter. This one is divided into two sections and totals about 13ft X10ft partially buried in earth to insulate it from the winter frosts this potato house is now only occupied by sheep.
This too appears in Elizabeth Ogilvie's book.

At Yew Grange farm a little distance away at the head of the dale is hidden a much larger one behind the farm This one has
three internal bays so probably around 15 ft wide ( I couldn't measure it as it was used to store roofing slates) and showed identical construction in that the dividing walls were identical in terms of width & dressing and each had a larger stone capping along their length upon which the large roof slabs rested on.
Each bay had at the opposite end to the door an entrance which looked identical to the those used in old pig sties here to pour food into. This was where the potatoes were tipped.
The floors were slabbed with flagstone.
The stone door frame was rebated to accomodate the door.
It appeared that when the structure was originally built the side walls were not wide enough (for insulation?) and were subsequently added to to a depth of another 2 or 3 feet in width. You can see this butting against the original structure on the extreme left hand side of the picture of the front. This addition had partially collapsed on the other side at one corner..
The original structure's roof had carefully beveled/sloping gable ends to suit the original pitch of the roof. You can see a couple of these gable stones at the rear and one on the front at the left hand side. Of more interest was that the owner told me when he acquired the farm in 1953 it was roofed over, with pantiles laid on the loose earth which was placed on top of the slabs. Because they were in danger of getting smashed up by his stock which once wandered around the yard he removed them and they were placed inside the structure!! He never used it for it's original purpose. I wonder whether the other potato house was similarly roofed in someway to prevent water from dripping in and spoiling the spuds?
It was obvious to me that although the structure would then have been totally waterproof and well insulated from long periods of extreme frost I could see how rats could be kept out. Wooden door + openings where you tipped the spuds!. So I asked the farmer and he too was puzzled, commenting that he'd never considered that before but that some additional precautions must have been needed to prevent rats getting in. A bit of know-how forgotten?
You can see this potato house here and here

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