Water has long been used as a source of power in Swaledale. The earliest record of a water powered corn mill in Swaledale is in the 1273/4 survey of the manor of Healaugh. This is probably the Reeth mill on the Arkle Beck, referred to in a deed of 1293. William Spenceley was the tenant in 1635. The mill continued in use until at least the 19th century. The power of the water in the Arkle Beck was later harnessed to drive a saw mill near Reeth Bridge and by Mr William Handley Burton in 1911 to provide electricity in Reeth. The hydroelectric plant continued to supply electricity to the people of Reeth until the late 1950s when the growth in the use of domestic appliances meant it could no longer meet the demand.
The first record of a corn mill in Fremington is in 1288. It was replaced ca. 1677 by a new corn mill, now incorporated into the farm at Low Fremington. There were two corn mills in Grinton. The earliest mention of a Grinton corn mill is 1521-22 in the Charlesworth v Broderick papers. It is unclear whether this is the one opposite the Church, or the one recently recognised at Swale Hall, Grinton.
The photos below show the weir on the Arkle Beck, the sluice and the now disused ‘leat’ which took the water to the hydroelectricity plant.