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TRAVEL NORTH - 4: WALK THE MOOR In The Footsteps Of Eston Ironstone Miners
FLATTS LANE Campaign Update
A Public Inquiry looked into the developers' appeal over four days from 25th April, 2017. On 13th June, 2017 the housing development was approved by the Government despite strong opposition and protest. To see more click on the link below to Craig Hornby's Pancrack TV site and click on 'News'.
By the way: I couldn't help but notice when I visited the Flatts Lane site in mid-July, 2017, that one of the gates had somehow been torn off its post and was held on by nylon rope. How desperate can somebody be to churn up the footpaths for pleasure?
What has to be done to safeguard the Green Belt?
A proposed memorial to the miners, steel workers and all who brought prosperity to Teesside from 1850, as well as those who went before
Eston Hills Information Site
- A NEW MONUMENT !
"Monument proposal for Eston Nab in full, to the memory of those who worked the mines, those who lost their lives in the mines at Old Bank, New Bank, Trustee and Upsall Mines, and those who made the steel for the ships, the structures...
The idea behind the design:
The monument will mark the passing of 10,000 years since the Stone Age hunter-gatherers came this way. They left arrow heads, flints and other implements. A Bronze Age burial site was found nearby, more recently an Iron Age Hill Fort within a stone's throw of the Nab. Further away ironstone miners' cottages marked a line across Upsall Moor close to the shaft mine. The monument will celebrate the Eston Beacon replaced by the Nab in 1956, the steel that made Sydney Harbour Bridge, the partnerships of Henry Bolckow and John Vaughan, Sir Arthur Dorman and Albert de Lande Long. - and the last act of SSI.
The passing of 372 miners and lads will be marked on the monument, their names inscribed for posterity. Payment for the work will be made through crowd-funding and possibly by bequest. Is there someone reading this who has deep pockets? See the link below for more:
And now to the real 'meat' of this page...
High above, on Eston Moor - What was there before, that overlooked the escarpment and the lower Tees Valley?
Where Eston's history took off: Mining engineer John Marley finds 'rusty gold' up behind the village of Eston (from Craig Hornby's dvd 'A Century in Stone')
A short note provided by Craig Hornby about the filming of 'A Century In Stone' (see links below near the foot of the page).
The actors in the opening scenes were Paul Chapman as John Vaughan (contacted through Spotlight:Actors Directories via his agent) and Jason Etherington of Darlington took the part of John Marley.
The sequence was shot in one day at Lazenby Bank on the original footpath taken by Vaughan and Marley in 1850. The final quarry shot was at New Row, Kildale (you can see it from the Kildale-Commondale road). The rock face was actually sandstone, but for the sake of the filming it became ironstone!
*You may have seen Paul Chapman in episodes of 'Midsomer Murders', 'Heartbeat' and other television dramatisations (including a series of Henry V and further Shakespeare 'Wars of the Roses'.plays - adapted for TV without scenery - when he played Lord Rivers amongst other roles).
The scene below was painted by Craig in the absence of available photographic images for the scene of the opening of the mine in 1851
Opening the Bold Venture quarry in January, 1851
Report by John Marley, 1856-1857, published 1857
A web address that proved too long for the link module,
This is a 52 page report made about the discovery of the Main or Thick Seam and its uses by the Iron works in the North of England - to wit, County Durham and duly also the North Riding of Yorkshire
Follow the story of steel-making at Middlesbrough that grew with the discovery of ironstone above Eston in 1850. With it grew the town and its satellites, home to 'economic migrants' from around Britain Plants were established east of the burgeoning new town at Cargo Fleet and South Bank and with them back-to-back housing. Grangetown's works had been established by Henry Bolckow and John Vaughan to be closer to their source at nearby Eston... to be absorbed into the Dorman Long empire by the end of the 19th Century... By the 50's steel-making had been nationalised, a new boom period took over with the rebuilding of Britain and its merchant fleet...
Eston's Productivity, 1858-1881, OS reference NZ 563182
The figures shown here are combined, (New Bank Drift, Old Bank Drift, Trustee Drift, Upsall Pit, Lowthers Drift, Bold Venture Quarry):
Year...... Ore in Imperial Tons ...... Value in £ nearest 000 *Gaps indicate no figures available
1858 ............. 507,265.............................. 76,089
1859 ............. 638,620 ..............................95,793
1860 ..............613,391.............................. 92,008
1861 ............. 565,285 ............................. 84,792
1862 ............. 608,420 ............................. 91,263
1863 ............. 633,206
1864 ............. 649,404
1865 ............. 685,980 ........................... 171,495
1866 ............. 710,156 ........................... 177,789
1867 ............. 665,975 ............................166,493
1868 ............. 715,248 ........................... 178,812
1869 ............. 761,594 ........................... 190,398
1870 .............. 831,787 .......................... 207,946
1871 .............. 532,821 .......................... 133,205
1872 ...................... No detailed returns
1873 .............. 705,228 .......................... 214,568
1874 .............. 569,240 .......................... 170,772
1875 ............... 571,621
1876 ............... 581,978
1878 ............... 557,982
1879 ............... 540,749
1881 ............ 1,094,200
....................16,028,121 Total tonnage extracted by 1881
Figures taken from CLEVELAND IRONSTONE MINING by John S Owen, ISBN 0 9506863 2 8, published 1986 by C Books, PO Box 11, Redcar TS10 1YS,
Owners until 1881 were Bolckow Vaughan. Dorman Long took over ownership until September, 1949 when operations ceased at remaining sites, New Bank and Lowthers. Over the time the Eston mines were in operation there were 372 fatalities, the last being Randall Brighton in 1949. Interestingly the previous fatality, Raymond Nellist was eight years earlier in 1941.
By 1949, after 99 years of extracting iron ore at the different sites - beginning with the Bold Venture working - over 6.3 million tons had been gained from this one district of the North Riding. Much of the iron ore went into Teesside's industry, and some (lucky Aussies!) going into the Sydney Harbour Bridge (for details of a trip down under see Craig's Pancrack website below, at the foot of the page)..
The geology under your feet, why and where mining was conducted
Iron ore seams are still broadly extant around hilly north-eastern Yorkshire...
... between the sea and the western edge of the Cleveland Hills overlooking Northallerton. Early bloom furnaces have left slag deposits across the area. During the mid-19th Century mining was widespread as far south as Eskdale to the west of Whitby. Although this southern moorland area is not strictly Cleveland, the umbrella term was applied to its output, as well as to that from Rosedale.
(Refer to: Cleveland Ironstone Mining by John S Owen, ISBN 0 9506863 2 8)
Over the fifteen decades that ended in January, 1964 at Skelton in East Cleveland, six distinct seams were worked to impracticability, and this was just the northern half of the district. From when the first underground workings were begun in the Grosmont area, three mining districts developed. These were 1. The Esk and Murk Esk dales centred on Grosmont, 2. Rosedale and 3. Cleveland. A grouping of this nature, based on deep dales between high moorland was more interestingly sub-divided by geological eccentricities of workable seams.
The narrow Pecten and Avicula seams were worked around Grosmont, the Top Seam level was worked around Rosedale and the Main Seam was worked altogether north of a line drawn between Swainby near Northallerton and Port Mulgrave south of Skinningrove. There were scattered local workings of other seams within these main districts, but the thicnkness and quality of seams were the determining factor in their exploitation.
Along the coast all the commercial layers but the topmost Eller Beck formation show on the surface on perpendicular high cliffs. Small scale exploitation of the outcrops was undertaken here from early in the 19th Century until demand made quarrying necessary. Around wide-spread inland districts tests were conducted for workable seams. Extension of the rail networks made exploitation easier, which in turn brought home the realisation that greater deposits were there to be had.
The moorlands and coastal cliffs of north-eastern Yorkshire are made up of Jurassic layers, most being formed under a succession of sea and fresh water. Thin coals also formed sometimes when the land was inundated by water. With this compacting of layers the rocks were sandwiched, made up largely of shales, sandstones and limestones with widespread iron minerals. A few thin ironstone seams or iron nodules can be found at various levels and could have been the source of early furnaces.
The Main Seam with associated Pecten, 'Two-Foot' and Avicula Seams is in the Middle Lias and the Top Seam is the base of the Inferior Oolite, the Eller Beck ironstone cropping up a little higher in the series. As they are of marine origin all six named ironstone seams vary somewhat in the way they were left behind and quality was dictated by the origins of the sediment and local conditions at the time they were laid down.
All the ironstones embody the iron-carbonate Siderite and the iron-silicate Chamosite to different degrees. Most look like mudstone or oolitic rock. In some areas partial replacement of the minute, round chamosite ooliths by other minerals like kaolinite, calcite and opal took place. A newly broken-off fragment of rock might look as if peppered with minute white dots. Broadly speaking, the ironstones of the Middle Lias might be seen as made up of a third part chamosite, a third siderite and a third non-iron content.
All the seams contain a notable quantity of phosphorus which before 1879 limited Cleveland ironstone's use. The following written comment was made on its chemical composition :
'The phosphorus content of the ironstone is mainly due to the presence of the cryptocrystalline mineral collophane, a calcium phosphate which generally also contains carbonate... The Mineral generally occurs in the form of water-worn fragments... Organic structure is rarely found in the collophane of the ironstone...'
Two major faults, the Upsall fault with a maximum downthrow of 550 feet (170m) on the south side of the Eston Hills and the Lockwood Beck fault with a maximum known easterly downthrow of 240 feet (73m) had a considerable effect on mining, as did a deep synclinal basin with North Skelton at its centre, where the Main Seam sank by 400 feet (120m) below the surface of the sea.
By definition the Main Seam can be seen as the most consistent in thickness and standard where commercial value dictated working. This seam turned out to be thickest. With the highest iron content of a little over an average 30% where it shows in the northernmost range of hills - Eston and Upleatham - the seam thickness reduced from 11 feet (3.4m) in the west and centre to around 8'-6" (2,6m) in the east towards the coast. To the south of the Eston-Upleatham axis the thickness of the seam narrowed considerably and the quality of the stone was relatively lower. Also to the south of Eston-Upleatham the solid seam was split vertically by an intrusive band of Dogger Ironstone (low quality stone) which gradually increases in depth and is finally replaced by a band of ferruginous shale. This shale thickens to the south, just as the ironstone band thins out, a factor not tolerated by the blast furnaces. This is a factor which saw the Grosmont mines being worked out at a much earlier stage than in their northern Cleveland neighbours. In some areas, such as Commondale, the workings were very short-lived.
The apex of the Main Seam is marked by a notable 'Sulphur Band'. A thin section of the ironstone had been offset by pyrites and care was taken not to load this mixed in with the ironstone. From 1870 a market opened for this material with regards to the manufacture of sulphuric acid. Above the sulphur band is a seam of impure ironstone, known to miners as the 'Dogger', which was worked with the Main Seam at first, then rejected by blast furnace managers. It was from then on kept as a tough and durable material for 'roofing' purposes in the drifts.
Named from the abundant 'pseudopecten aequivalvis' fossils found within it, commonly mentioned as the 'Picton Band' by Cleveland miners (after Picton on the western edge of Cleveland, south of Yarm).
It is largely of poor quality with a maximum thickness of about 5 feet (1.5m) in a small part of Eston Mines where it underlies the Main Seam and was worked with the better ore. Over much of the mining area it is separated from the Main Seam by a ferruginous mudstone known as the 'Black Hard' and although generally sampled it was thought too thin and of too poor quality to be worked.
Around Grosmont it averages around 3'-6" (1.07m) in thickness and was worked from various small mines in the Eskdale district. Analyses reveal its iron content to be at most 27% in the area locally. .
The Industrial Revolution conjures up conflicting images of wealth and poverty, dirt and smoke. The boss lived in a smart detached house on the hill, set within a park and sporting high iron gates. Everyone else fitted into the lower levels. Conversely, it brought prosperity to Britain and wrenched Britannia into a new age, her ships were better than those of our rivals the French and Spaniards - and latterly the infant America. This is the story of Britain before the world was tipped upside down after the turn of the 20th Century.
Shaping of Modern Britain
See below for NEFA archive film link, and foot of page for an extra local environmental feature...
Ironstone - the Cleveland Klondike
Note to above:
The tramway was extended piecemeal in the 1850s-1860s with the extension of quarrying east along the escarpment. 1870-1893 it was relaid to Lowell Hill quarry beyond Wilton Lane, also serving Agar's Drift, Quarry Siding Drift and North Drift. Further extension south in 1914 above ground to the Chaloner workings outside Guisborough. Here it ran into three drifts, South Drift, Outcrop Drift and Quarry Drift. Lowthers opened halfway between New Bank Head and Wilton Bank in the 1920s to re-work old workings from Agar's Drift.
You can still see the much decorated Guibal Fan House now dubbed 'SS Castle' on account of the 'S' shaped steel masonry braces.
The tramway ceased operation in August, 1939, when all Chaloner drifts were worked out. There is still ironstone in the hills behind Eston and Lazenby, but the cost of extraction would outweigh any income achieved.
Landmark+++ The 'SS' Castle near the 1871 Wilton carter's bridge over the mine tramway
To Guisborough by the tramway (below)
There are the remains of workings on either side of the trackbed up to the 1871 bridge I mentioned - see also walk account at the top of the page - that stands near the remains of a Guibal fan-house locally nicknamed 'SS Castle'. Its nickname stems from the 'S'-shaped steel masonry braces on its concrete walls. The old tramway trackbed passes a footpath (left) that leads down behind Wilton Village, Wilton Castle and the golf course, and (right) up to the Lazenby-Guisborough cart track. [This leads to a metalled farm road. Pass over the cattle grid between the gate-posts, and follow the country code (keep your litter and put dogs on the lead, as livestock graze the field on your left - should you ignore this advice beware, the farmer would be within his rights in gunning your dog down for harassing his animals.)]
Ahead the trackbed runs to where Tockett's Mine used to be, along with other workings. Emerging from dense woodland and opening a gate come onto the little Wilton to Guisborough road that snakes around the edge of a hill. Earthworks by the left of the roadside show where mine workings and processing sheds once stood. The road leads down into the back of Guisborough past Mount Pleasant on the right, a row of former miners' cottages, and Tockett's Mill in the distance to your left.
Guisborough is a pleasant market town, the 'capital' of East Cleveland. The land was once owned, as I've already said, by the de Brus family, formerly of Skelton Castle further east. The lord of Annandale in the southern borders region of Scotland now owns the land. The High Street looks mainly Georgian, unlike Eston - mostly Victorian and post-War - with a fair number of cafes and public houses to choose from. The market takes place twice weekly and fills the street with colour almost from end to end between the market cross at the east end and the chapel at the west end.
Hopefully I've whetted your appetite for a visit to the area. For things to do and an accommodation guide look in on the 'Visit the Tees Valley website' shown at the base of this Hub.
Not too far away, near the coast at Skinningrove is the Tom Leonard Mining Museum. Here you not only see pictures of what ironstone mining used to be like, conditions and so on, you also get to experience conditions. If you find an hour or two spare you will want to look in on the premises. The museum is located at Deepdale, Skinningrove, TS13 4AP, ph: 01287 642877. From Carlin Howe on the A174 descend the zig-zag, pass under the steel and concrete railway viaduct and at the last bend turn left into Skinningrove village along Mill Lane. The museum is marked, on the right of the narrow dale. From the Whitby direction Loftus is at the top of the hill on the south side of the dale. There's a long, straightish road to the zig-zag. opposite. Turn right from the bottom onto Mill Lane.
Redundant mine tramway trackbed above Lazenby Bank
Eston ... Cargo Fleet. Where the stone came from and where it went
North East Film Archive - 1937/38 footage
I was e-mailed a link by Craig Hornby recently. The link below is to the North East Film Archive (NEFA) which holds a vast store of reference to the East Cleveland and Middlesbrough areas of the North Riding of Yorkshire in its fairly recent industrial heyday.
Visit the link below: (the document number refers to this particular footage that dates back to 1937 - less than two years prior to WWII - and witnesses the beginning of an upsurge in the area's fortunes).
The twenty minute footage (16mm, no soundtrack) made by Wilf Shaw in the late 1930s shows workmen and their families, pre-war working and living conditions and a snapshot of leisure time, travelling to the seaside by bus or train. Note the men and women didn't undress for the beach, that was for a later generation to introduce shortly before the summer 'exodus' to warmer climes in the Mediterranean, Madeira or the Canary Islands.
North East Film Archive (NEFA)
- Cleveland » North East Film Archive
One of the leading educational archive sources recording the later Industrial Revolution in the north of England
Eston Square from the north-western corner
Note to the painting; The injured were brought down at shoulder level, the dead at arm's length downward. Eston men were brought down past Low Row California and California men through neighbouring Eston to avoid their families identifying them, thus avoiding needless distress (although news would soon spread like wildfire across the back of the village/town by word of mouth). See the link to the Panrack TV site below. More information can be had from watching the quality dvd (seen everywhere from Scotland to Australia in presentations)
Early 20th Century Eston ironstone miners
The Eston escarpment, the 'scarp'.
As I've already mentioned in TRAVEL NORTH - Tees to Esk, John Vaughan found ironstone by accident when walking along the Eston escarpment behind Lazenby. He and John Marley, a mining engineer of the company John Vaughan and Henry Bolckow had founded not long before, were surveying for borehole sites for ironstone exploration.
The pair were scaling Lazenby Bank when Marley picked up a stone both men knew to be from the Skinningrove Seam. Almost at a run they came upon an outcrop of the rock already being quarried for road surfacing. They followed the rock westward to Eston Bank and in following the source estimated it must have been sixteen feet in thickness. In the event it turned out to have been twelve feet thick but overlaid by another type of ironstone! Bolckow and Vaughan were so keen to exploit this new source a new quarry was opened on the hillside at Bank Fields above Eston called Bold Venture. The quarry can be seen under the tracks of motorbike tyres. In the final seventeen weeks of 1850 4,040 tons 7 cwt were extracted and despatched by cart to Cargo Fleet Works near South Bank. Under the strain of eighty-three cartloads a week the roads were mired in little time. A railway was built to link Eston with a new works at Grangetown, a mile and a half to the north towards the Tees and the Stockton & Darlington railway extension on the south bank of the Tees.
Within a decade or so new workings, the Trustee Drift and the Old Bank Incline were opened up, then the New Bank incline was built. Things were powering along. By the end of the 1860s more workings had sprouted around the escarpment and one on top of the moor, Upsall Pit. This was reached first by the extension of the Cleveland Railway - an offshoot of the West Hartlepool & Harbour Railway - that snaked round from the Normanby Jetty on the south bank of the Tees via Normanby and Flatts Lane, up over the hill via a rope-worked incline and past Upsall Hall to Barnaby Side and onto Barnaby moor. The line passed behind the Cross Keys on the Guisborough Road and on past Guisborough to Slapewath and Boosbeck. The line up to Barnaby Moor was lifted when the pit was used merely to supply the two rows of miners' cottages at Upsall from 'in-by', that is from Trustee Drift up the shaft. All ironstone from here was drawn down the Trustee Drift to Low Drum at the back of Eston, under the Redcar Road and into exchange sidings. The Cleveland Railway route beyond Guisborough lasted into the 1960s, but was lifted west of Guisborough.
Another drift, Lowthers, was opened up on Lazenby Bank with a Guibal Fan to ventilate the underground workings. A wagon tramway was laid near the base of the escarpment but was soon superseded by an underground route that linked Eston Mines with those of Guisborough. By the time all these mines had been worked out and closed in 1949 under the auspices of the owners, Dorman Long, over sixteen million tons of ore had been extracted from Eston mines alone.
Few traces remain. A new roadway, the A174 Parkway was built on part of the site. The supporting walls of Low Drum were still in situ last time I was at the site about three years ago. The stables, smithy, loose box and horse-keeper's house had disappeared to make way for a new housing estate. New Bank incline was almost invisible from below under a growing canopy of trees. Lowther's Drift on Lazenby Bank is derelict and inaccessible but someone had forced the steel door to the drift entrance. The drift roof is unsafe, loose bricks lying on the floor. Who knows when the rest will go?
One or two former mine electricity sub-station towers are scattered around the base of the hills between Eston and Normanby, and the small bridge over what was the track bed on Wilton Bank is still there, bearing an old cart road. The keystone bears the date, 1885. The fan-house bears a lot of interesting graffiti in the local vernacular.
On top of Barnaby Moor there is very little to see of Upsall Pit. A track leads past a spring flushed with the orange of ironstone deposits. Somewhere around here used to be the concrete embrasure of the pit top, but that went long ago since I last saw it as a youth in the 1960s, and the foundations of the two rows of cottages have disappeared under about seventy years of root growth since the last inhabitants were moved away. You can see clear to Eston Nab, the site of the Roman signal station, near the top of the escarpment with the North Sea behind. Closer inspection gives you an unrestricted view of Teesside from west to east.
Further towards the A171 Guisborough Road where a pig farm occupied the moortop another couple of farmhouses can be seen in the distance towards Guisborough. In the other direction behind Pinchinthorpe and Newton-under-Roseberry is the grand aspect of Roseberry Topping, itself the victim of underground workings. A footpath leads past a small plantation parallel to Upsall estate, a walled-in woodland we knew as 'Piggy Wood', down along fields where I pulled up a Swede, brushed off the dirt and chewed it on the way home to Eston. At the bottom of the footpath is the embankment of the redundant railway that you climb over to get into the Cross Keys Inn. We used to visit here when I was young, my father, mother and me. It was smaller then, a passage led past the bar where I wasn't allowed, into the saloon where I crunched on crisps and drained a half-pint glass of lemonade before setting off back up the hill. Ah, those were the days! Nowadays the Cross Keys is more sophisticated and pricey, but still a handy watering hole and restaurant that offers ales from the nearby Pinchinthorpe micro-brewery.
Westward to Flatts Lane behind Normanby is a nature centre and playground. This was the site of the Normanby Brick Works, and further west there was another ironstone working towards Ormesby Bank. The railway line curved round past Flatts Lane Crossing at Normanby, past open fields now built up and over Flatts Lane itself on an un-gated crossing toward the brick works. Of the inclined plane there is no sign, and a ruined building that stood there has either been demolished or collapsed with age and was grown over. The crest of the hill where the ropeway engine might once have stood is equally overgrown, but the abutments of the railway bridge over the southern end of Flatts Lane are still to be seen where the embankment disappears into the distance under the edge of a ploughed field. Further east, back towards the Cross Keys is a row of substantial houses, still lived in, where traces of the trackbed can be made out from the roadway.
**There are a few related pages I've added to Hub-Pages since this was first put together:
"TRAVEL NORTH - 38-40: Guisborough Circular..." is a trio of pages about the railway opened by the Middlesbrough & Guisborough Railway under the auspices of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, and associated mine routes in the area in general, concentrating on the M&GR.
"TRAVEL NORTH - 44 BATTLE OF THE RAILS..." (hubpages.com/travel/TRAVEL-NORTH-44-BATTLE-OF-THE-RAILWAYS) tells of a struggle between two major rival railway companies on Teesside that came to clashes before agreement was reached. The tale involves the Stockton & Darlington Railway and the West Hartlepool Harbour & Railway Co. who promoted a smaller railway across S&DR territory in the 1860s.
Where is Teesside?
Eston Station, accessed from the west side of Jubilee Road, off the square
The station was opened by the North Eastern Railway in 1902 to passengers and a goods pick-up service to Middlesbrough. To the west near Flatts Lane was the original Cleveland Railway line that ran south and uphill to Normanby Brickworks, latterly via Upsall to Barnaby Moor via a rope-worked incline. Passenger services to Eston were cut by the LNER in 1929 due to severe competition from the buses. Whereas buses ran along the High Street via Eston Square from either Middlesbrough or Redcar, the railway station was at that time a good walk away from the square. The goods services were the next casualty so that by the time the line was closed completely and lifted by 1967 there was only the Co-operative Society's coal depot that used the railway connection north-west to Middlesbrough via Normanby, as well as a small scrapyard to the south of Normanby behind Garden Place. A station had never been installed at Normanby, so passengers could not join the trains there. Had there been a station at Flatts Lane,Normanby, revenue may have been higher.
Passenger services were originally hauled by a Darlington apple green 0-4-4 Bogie Tank Passenger locomotive (BTP) designed by Edward Fletcher in the 1880s and built at the NER's Gateshead Works after McDonnell's departure and before Thomas Worsdell joined the NER as Locomotive Superintendent. The carriages would earlier have been curved-roofed, six-wheeled bone-shakers. Latterly clerestory-roofed David Bain vehicles in Crimson Lake livery would have been seen on the branch. Very colourful!
A busy Bank Holiday day out to the miners' gala at Eston, the crowds have alighted and stream towards Station Road
Cleveland Mining Museum, Skinningrove
- Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum
Museum web-site describes facilities, shop, disability access and tours as well as a location finder
Upsall Pit on Barnaby Moor
Rail links to the mines via Flatts Lane and Barnaby Side to Eston Moor (Upsall Pit):
With the commercial opening of ironstone working at the base of the Eston escarpment in 1850, leases to work the ore were secured by Messrs Bolckow Vaughan to remove the stone from Eston's mining operations. Five main estates were involved - to secure 'wayleaves' from - three to the north of the escarpment owned by 1. The Lowther family of Wilton Castle (later taken over by Imperial Chemical Industries [ICI] on South Teesside as their HQ in the region); 2. the Stapyltons and 3. the Lady Hewley Charity/Bequest.
Within a few years trackwork to the Old Incline, Trustee Drift and New Bank Incline was laid and in use, wagons descending the hill towards Low Drum behind the California Estate. From here they were taken to a crushing plant and calcining kilns to the north of the Redcar road. The ore was transferred to standard gauge wagons and hauled north along the railway to the blast furnaces at Grangetown works.
Until the Cleveland Railway company laid their track from the north side of the escarpment near Normanby over the hill past Upsall Grange and along the Guisborough road to the bottom of Barnaby Side, mining operations seemed uneconomic. The two main estates on the south side of Eston Moor were Admiral Chaloner's, close to Guisborough, and Greenwood's opposite Upsall Grange to the west.
Parliamentary persmission was granted in 1859 for two lines to be built, 1. the Crow Well incline (off the branch at NZ 589159), 2. Barnaby Side/Upsall incline (NZ 574158). There is evidence of both on their respective routes.
Crow Well: must have been built to serve a shaft because the lvel upper terminus ends in a high field (NZ 586172). A remark is made on the six inch scale Geological Survey map of 1883: 'Shaft sunk 22 fathoms (132 ft or 40m). Seam not reached'. The Eston Mine abandonment plan showed that had the shaft been completed it would have reached the Main Seam slightly deeper that was reached by the Upsall shafts that were three quarters of a mile (1200m) to the west of Crow Well. Crow Well shaft would have been narrowly within the boundary of Admiral Chaloner's land. Among the Chaloner Estate papers in the North Yorkshire Record Office was a sketch of the Crow Well incline dated November, 1865.
The incline would have been devised as a self-acting incline, loaded wagons descending hauling the same number of empty wagons uphill. Strong braking mechanism would have been called for. Such a system would have been housed in a structure at the head of the incline, a large drum installed around which the cable was coiled. Operationally wagon speed was regulated by brakes fitted to the drum, the wagons of standard gauge size.
From 1872 the iron company worked Chaloner's stone from a new mine with shafts and inclined underground planes or drifts near North Cote Farm (NZ 600170). By the time Crow Well was ready the company probably had second thoughts, acted on a few years. A gill (spring) rises from the rough ground where the Crow Well should have been, that drains into Moordale Beck (stream). About 130 yards (110m) downstream of where the two waterways meet a number of wrought iron plates were laid end-to-end in the beck. The 1883 geological map shows a 'water level' (mine water drainage level) here, crossing the course of Moordale Beck at an unspecified height relative to the beck. As the water level was at a shallow angle below ground, the plates were probably laid to stop beck water seeping into the drainage level.
Barnaby Side: The Upsall shafts on Barnaby Moor (NZ 574173) were situated on ground that sloped towards Moordale Beck. The projected incline to the Cleveland Railway would need to climb to a height at NZ 574167, beyond which the land falls steeply to the cleveland Railway embankment at Barnaby Side west of the Cross Keys Inn (Premier chain) on the A171. The hump would have been suitable for a brake drum to control the long descent. Boilers and and a stationary engine to raise loaded wagons from the shaft site would have been necessary, and from there the wagons would have been transferred to the self-acting braking mechanism. At the hump was a small heap of stones, but no sign of an obvious building foundation. The 1894 edition of the 25 inch Ordnance Survey chart, whilst describing the trackbed as an 'Old Railway' indicates no building or foundation for such here. No trace could be found either of any engineered trackbed between mine and hump. However, not far beyond the hump was a shallow cutting that deepened gradually as it followed past arable land over the crest. A large stone bridge spanned the cutting at the southern edge. From the east side of the bridge an overgrown track led to a small quarry at NZ 576166. The quarried stone seemed to be of good quality and would have been where the block stones came from for the dismantled winding engine house at Upsall Mine. From the field edge and bridge the incline could be traced by a broad, deep cutting that eventually levelled out near the bottom of the slope. The rest of the distance to the parent Cleveland Railway branch the line ran on embankments and in shallow cuttings on its way past fields.
John Rider of Barnaby Side farm told that over the years working the land he had not found any remnants of rail, fish plates (rail joiners), bolts or sleeper fragments. He concluded that no actual rails had been laid.
Around 150 yards (130+ metres) west of the incline, halfway to the hilltop a trial shaft was sunk at NZ 573164 and named Greenwood's Pit. Being on the south side of the Upsall Fault that raised the strata on that flank of the moor by 550 ft (167m), no ironstone was located. No surface marks survive to show the sinking of the shaft.
Around a half mile (800m) south of the junction of the incline with the Cleveland Railway near the Guisborough road is the almost parallel trackbed of the 1853 Guisborough Railway. In line with the incline junction, beyond the Cleveland Railway, older O.S. maps display a 'tongue' of slag in a field to the east of Hemble Hill at NZ 573157. Years of ploughing have fused the outline. This may have been meant as a link with the Guisborough Railway. The owner of land around Hemble Hill, Miss S Edwards had wondered about this feature and spoke of a culvert at the lower boundary of the first field, that enclosed a section of the field drainage channel, the Main Stell. For about 40 yards (35+ metres) at NZ 572154 both banks were strengthened by carved sandstone blocks. A short length still carried an arch of double width bricks, giving access for vehicles to fields beyond the stell. Between the stone blocks was a channel for the water of around 3ft 6ins wide and 4ft high (1.06 X 1.2m). The culvert top may have once run the length of the walling, as a lot of red bricks lie around on either bank as though saved from the water subsequent to a collapse.
An oblique line from the field side remains and across the culvert cut across the Guisborough Railway trackbed (NZ 572152). The track was level with the field here, but a few yards west began an embankment, and to the east by the same distance was a shallow cutting. It might have been that a standard gauge railway was going to be laid from here to the incline at Barnaby Side. As the Main Stell was about 30ft (9m) lower than the Guisborough Railway an embankment would have had to have been laid in. Therefore in readying for this the culvert was built and tipping had begun. It is not known whether this work had been undertaken before the building of the Cleveland Railway or at the time of the proposed closure of the branch. Just as with the Crow Well Incline it is not obvious track was laid on Barnaby Side.
Statistics dating back to 1866-69 show total output tonnage for 'Eston & Upsall'. This can be part explained in that Upsall's stone was to have been taken by the Cleveland Railway overground rail link that ran in a 'long C' via Upsall Grange from Normanby. Latterly Upsall's mined stone was moved 'inbye' through the Trustee Drift above Eston, and supplies for the inhabitants of the two rows of cottages and the mine manager went the opposite way from Eston. The last of the inhabitants of the Upsall settlement left in 1949 when the mines at Eston were closed down by the owners, Dorman Long.
At this point I should introduce
Flatts Lane Incline: Normanby mines were opened first by Bell Brothers of Port Clarence, and produced workable stone years before the Cleveland Railway. John Marley set out in his paper on Cleveland Ironstone, to be presented to the North of England Institute of Mining Engineers in 1857, quoted in their production statistics for 1856 as being 131,000 tons (Imperial) and commented '...by a short, private branch railway, the ironstone is taken on to the Middlesbrough and Guisborough Railway'. Until recently the remains of an embankment in the field near the road junction of Flatts Lane and the A171 at NZ 553156 gave a pointer that from the highest level of the present road to the A171 Flatts Lane lay parallel to an erstwhile railway track. [A little way back from the road junction are the remains of bridge abutments on either side of the lane]. South of here open fields lead to Upsall Carrs Plantation. Running the length of the plantation was an overgrown but obvious trackbed for a railway with shallow cuttings and low embankments that led to a junction with the Guisborough Railway near Pinchinthorpe at NZ 550147, where railway boundary railings opened out to meet this branch.
Returning northward to the Eston side of the escarpment in 1998, perhaps even now still, you would have come across the remains of the
Trustee Powder Magazine: (see the bottom right-hand square of the 1913 map above, where the tracks fan out. Trustee Drift was to the left looking at the map) The Trustee Drift was the most westerly of the Eston workings, from whose drift entrances the narrow gauge 'tram' lines converged on Low Drum to the east of the California Estate (Old Eston). The rope drift opened for business in January, 1870 to haul from Pit Bottom. Underground tunnels criss-crossed through from front to back and west to east as far as Guisborough's mines under Chaloner land, and the underground districts were given exotic names such as 'Zulu'. As already mentioned elsewhere mining at Eston finished in 1949, but there were many remains, and are still. One of the structures is the 1870 gunpowder magazine at NZ 561180 to the south of the drift entrance (uphill direction). It stands between the drift and the erstwhile reservoir used for boiler water. John Owen and Richard Pepper, members of the Cleveland Industrial Archaeology Society surveyed the site in 1994, revealing a 'porched' concrete entranceway leading to a domed inner entrance, behind which a larger underground area turned to the left. A rear portal led underground to the main mine from where the charge hands called for their 'squibs' (ever heard of the expression 'damp squibs'?) to blast more ore from the pillars or underground faces.
Cross Keys Inn on the A171 at Upsall, and the way there
The motivation... and success. Media frenzy at the Nab ? FOEH raised the cash to buy a parcel of land around the Nab, that's why!
Craig Hornby at Pancrack Pictures
Click the link above to see how you can buy a first-rate feature-length documentary film (2 hours) by Craig Hornby
Titled 'A Century in Stone', the documentary charts Eston's emergence as an industrial hub that fed high quality ironstone to nearby Teesside works for ninety-nine years, 1850-1949.
Living and working conditions are documented for the burgeoning village-cum-town that grew - like Topsy - from a few farms and cottages, a smithy and broad vistas via the California estate at the east of Eston to streets of terraced houses, a purpose-built hospital for the mine and steel workers of Eston, Grangetown, Lackenby, Lazenby and Normanby. You're taken from the Cleveland Klondike to the inter-war depression in the 1920s and 1930s and wartime boom to post-WWII expansion and subsequent contraction. At least steel-making is still an on-going industry on Teesside thanks to recent developments at Lackenby and Redcar (entered 23/2/2014).
Click the link also to book places on Craig's walking tours of Eston Hills from the Tip Yard via the 'SS Castle, Nab, Iron Age site, Upsall Pit and 'village'; then back down to Trustee Powder Magazine and into the back of Eston near Jubilee Road.