During the 1970s, the train ride home from a day out in Redcar passed between the three blast furnaces and the coke ovens at South Bank. It was a hellish vision, fire, smoke and steam, sparks flying everywhere, the smell of sulphur and benzene with the occasional glimpse of men emerging from the murk. I loved it.
I took these photographs in the late 1980’s during the demolition of the blast furnaces.
Teesside’s steel industry was born in the 1850’s and died in October 2015. Steelworker Mike Guess took it upon himself to record the final few years of iron and steel making on Teesside. ..the mothball, restart and eventual closing of iron and steelmaking on Teesside was something that I was not going to fail to record. It was almost an obligation to future generations..
As well as Mike’s beautiful book there is currently a new exhibition, Steel Stories at the Kirkleatham Museum.
A friend and I took a walk around Sleights moor starting at the High Bride Stones, a group of Prehistoric Standing Stones that have been interpreted as the possible ruins of two Four-Poster Stone Circles or the remains of a number of Stone Rows.
We followed the lines of stones to the edge of the moor and the descent into the Murk Esk valley.
A Ladder trap, one of two in this small area, both thankfully empty.
Descending the bank to the Low Bride Stones on Sheephowe Rigg.
Like the High Bride Stones on the moor above, this is a very ruinous site. Archaeological surveys have revealed over 100 stones including a mutilated cairn. The current best guess is that many of the stones once formed part of a prehistoric enclosure.
We moved north along the top of Lowther Crag to the disused Bolton Crag quarry, one source of the beautiful Middle Jurassic moorland sandstone. Across the Esk valley we can see the quarries at Aislaby. Stone from these quarries was used to build the 11th century Abbey at Whitby, the foundations of the old Waterloo and London Bridges and the piers at Whitby.
Walking up onto the moor top we found small, loose boulders made of ‘white flint’. This stone was prized by the steel industry, its high silica content, up to 98%, meant that it was ideal for making refractory bricks and moulding sand.
We moved across the highest part of the moor to Black Brow and its two Bronze Age kerbed burial mounds, the Flat Howes. This is the highest section of the moor, there are uninterrupted views along the Esk Valley to the Kildale Gap, across the moors towards Fylingdales and down to the coast into Whitby, a fitting place to spend eternity.
Chalybes – The Chalybes or Chaldoi were a people mentioned by Classical authors as living in Pontus and Cappadocia in northern Anatolia during Classical Antiquity. Their territory was known as Chaldia, extending from the Halys to Pharnakeia and Trabzon in the east, the Chaldoi/Chalybes, Mossynoikoi, and Tubal/Tabal/Tibareni, are counted among the first ironsmith nations by classical authors.