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Turner records the view of Thorp Arch Mill and Weir looking upstream from close by on the left bank of the River Wharfe. Thorp Arch is also the subject of the following sketch in this book (D11979; Turner Bequest CLII 5). A paper mill and a corn mill stood on this site according to the Ordnance Survey map of 1849, but all the mill buildings and wheel races are now demolished or redeveloped. It is not altogether clear what attracted Turner to Thorp Arch as a subject. Thorp Arch was a popular spa in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. When he made these sketches Turner was headed for Farnley Hall, the home of his Yorkshire patron Walter Fawkes. It is possible that there were Fawkes family connections in the area at this time. Walter Fawkes’s brother Francis Hawksworth wrote to the famous bird artist Thomas Bewick from Thorp Arch in 18091 and directed that the reply should be directed to a ‘Miss Grimston’ at Thorp Arch. Francis Hawksworth and Walter Fawkes each married Grimston sisters, respectively Elizabeth and Maria.
Anne Lyles, Turner and Natural History: The Farnley Project, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1988, p.69.