By 1838 the Rawcliffe Bridge Brickwork’s stood on site, adjacent to the Goole & Knottingley Canal (now the Aire and Calder Navigation). Clay for the bricks was dug by hand from 2 pits situated in a nearby field. In 1873 the works were modernised and taken over by The Rawcliffe Steam Brick & Tile Company owned by an historically important local family – the Creykes. A 30m high chimney was erected which soon became an important local landmark.
Sometime between 1875 and 1885 the clay pits filled with water and the Ponds came into existence. A local legend puts the date as early as 1875 and that the pits filled over night!
In 1890 the factory was sold and sugar refining began on site. The mill used locally grown sugar beet and water from the Ponds in production process. In 1900 the factory was completely modernised it, however, a world-wide drop in the price of sugar prevented the factory from ever opening. Despite this local people were employed for many years solely to keep the machinery in running order – would this happen today?
Following World War 2, a company called Glucose By-products took over the factory to manufacture glucose. The factory employed many local people until it’s closure in 1963. Now into the frame came Croda Chemicals Ltd who bought the site as a storage facility for it’s plant close by in the village.
Gradually as Croda’s plant expanded in the 1970’s and 1980’s use of the site declined along with maintenance until by the late 1980’s the Sugar Mill Ponds had become a derelict eyesore. In the early 1990’s Croda began to investigate ways of reclaiming and developing the site for the local community and the active angling club, both of whom had been using the site for as long as it had existed. Groundwork Wakefield has been working with Croda, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, grant funding organisations and importantly the local community to improve the site since 1996 through the Changing Places Programme.
If you have any queries or comments, we will be happy to discuss anything related to the ponds. Contact details as below. Simply contact us via the website or social media.