Friday, 12 July 2013

The Birks family and Goole Fields mill

I have recently been finding out more about the Birks family who were millers in Goole throughout most of the nineteenth century.

Thomas Birks, son of John was a farmer until 1815 when he became a miller at Goole. I think that he may have taken over what was formerly known as Broadbents' mil, a smock mill which stood on the riverbank where Goole docks is today.

He had to move in the 1820s when the Aire and Calder Co. began building their new canal and docks exactly where his mill stood. So he moved to the other side of the Dutch River and built a new windmill near what we now know as Old Goole, on Goole Fields. It is still there.

Sadly Thomas died in 1828 leaving his widow Hannah, nee Colbridge to run the mill.  She eventually married William Greenfield, also a miller but he was killed when he took hold of the moving sail and was carried up in the air before falling to the ground.

But by then Hannah's son, Thomas Gilderdale Birks was old enough to take over running the mill. He continued milling until in his turn his son, another Thomas Gilderdale Birks took over. This third Thomas was particularly interested in the natural history of Goole Moors.

He was an enthusiastic member of the Goole Scientific Society and its recorder of botany. He studied the algae of Goole and Thorne moors and was a founder member of the British Mycological Society, and the Yorkshire Naturalists Union.

In 1883 he was offering 'Andromeda, the three Droseras, pllujarla, and many other rare flowering plants, characeae, algae, diatoms, desmids, micro- fungi, plants for freshwater aquaria and well-mounted slides in exchange for books on natural history, cabinets, slide boxes,
or apparatus.'
Anyone interested was invited to reply to Thomas Birks, jun., Old Goole Mill, Goole.

By 1899 he had moved from Goole to become the manager of the Cleveland Flour mills but still returned to Goole to study the moors. In 1911 he was living in New Southgate, Middlesex, a corn dealer and shopkeeper.

In 1911 both William Gawtry, a waterman and William Phillipson , a jobbing gardener gave their address as the Mill House, Goole Fields.

If anyone can add any more to the history of either the Birks family or the mill I should be pleased.


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