Jane Frank Garth, Little Hograh Moor

Above Hob Hole in Baysdale and beside a shallow marshy patch of moor ominously called Black Sike is the ruins of a building and walled enclosure. On the 1853 6″ map it is named as Jane Frank Garth and has acquired a history involving the brewing and smuggling of illicit liquor. Tom Scott Burns in his 1987 book in “Round and About the North York Moors” refers to its local name of Gin Garth and suggests the building was used as a storehouse for contraband alcohol.

Across Baysdale is the Westerdale Road dropping down to the ford at Hob Hole. This is the ancient packhorse route from Guisborough to Westerdale, known as Ernaldsti, and would have been a well used route throughout the ages. If I was looking for a hideaway I wouldn’t pick one so clearly visible. I would be looking for somewhere a bit more discrete so as to avoid the attentions of any passing customs officers. Even today near such a tourist honeypot as Hob Hole there are places just a few hundred yards upstream that are rarely visited except by sheep and the occasional gamekeeper.

Smuggling was certainly rife in the 18th century and Gin Garth is a name used elsewhere for storehouses. There is one as in Danby. Silks, tobacco, wines, and spirits would come ashore at secluded bays along the Yorkshire coast to avoid customs duties and be dispersed to secret locations across the moors. Most would eventually end up in the towns and cities, perhaps even as far south as London.


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