The History of Aldwark
Everything around the Scout Centre and including the Mill, Toll Bridge, Toll House, River frontage and Landing Wharfs up to 1919 belonged to the Thompson Family who lived at Kirby Hall. (Kirby Hall stood on the land inside the two Gatehouses you pass on your right as you drive to the Scout Centre from Ouseburn).
There was a Ferry Boat crossing near to were the present Aldwark Bridge is, at the end of what was called Ferry Boat Lane; now just Boat Lane.
The Ferry was very unreliable so in 1772 John Thompson of Kirby Hall applied to Parliament for the right to build a Toll Bridge across the River Ure. He would stand the cost of construction as long as Parliament agreed NEVER to take any taxes from Income made by the Bridge Crossing. Parliament Agreed and to this day they are not able to collect any Tax from the revenue it makes.
The Scout Centre/Mill buildings do not appear on the Tithes map of 1846, but Bridge House, The Toll House and our neighbours on the west side (a public house called The Anchor Inn) do, and the Owner of all this, and much, much more is said to be Richard John Thompson of Kirby Hall.
The first reference for Aldwark Bridge in the Census returns appears to be the birth of a Sarah Watson in 1829.
The working History of what is now the Scout Centre starts in the Census of 1841 with the birth at Aldwark Bridge of William Inchbold Johnson. In the Census of 1871 he is, at 30 years old, Head of the Family with his wife Annie 24, and their daughter Mary 2. His Occupation is given as Guano and Seed Merchant and he employs a Housemaid and a cook and has 2 men working as Coal Porters. So he must have also been landing, dealing and distributing coal from what we now call The Mill. This is confirmed 10 years later in the Census of 1881 were he gives his Occupation as Coal, Seed and Manure Merchant, he still has a house maid and cook but now employs a Groom. He now also has 3 Children 1 Girl and 2 Boys all born at Aldwark Bridge. Much the same is recorded in the Census of !891. But things change in 1898 when William Inchbold Johnson born 1840 Dies.
His second son also called William Inchbold Johnson takes over the family business and in the Census of 1901 at the age of 26 is living with his wife Alma at Aldwark Bridge, and gives his Occupation as Farmer and Manure Merchant.
Sometime before the 1911 Census the Tenancy was taken from the Johnson Family and transferred to Yorkshire Farmers Ltd. who in the Census of 1911 had 2 Chemical Manure Merchants working from the Mill One Occupied with his wife and 2 daughters 9 rooms and the other with just his wife occupied 4 rooms.
Things Change dramatically in 1919 when the whole of the Kirby Hall Estate, including Aldwark Mill is sold by The First Baron of Knaresborough formerly Sir Henry Meysey-Thompson (born 30th August 1845). He sells up everything following the death of his only son, Claude Meysey-Thompson at Ypres in 1915. The Mill was purchased by Yorkshire Farmers Ltd., who became in 1920 West Cumberland Trading Society Ltd.
They sold the property on 5th January 1966 to JD Weatherell who One Year and one Day later sold it on 6th January 1967 to Central Yorkshire Scouts Council and it became The Aldwark Water Activity Centre.
Aldwark Water Activity Centre has now been successfully in operation for over 50 years, and with our volunteers supporting us we hope to continue for at least another 50 years!