Teesside Steel – The Final Years

Teesside Steel

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.

Saltburn Chalybeate


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.


Urban Megaliths – Middle Beck Stone Circle

Lat: 54°.3  NZ 522 184

A modern circle (2000CE) located on the east bank of the Middle Beck on the Town Farm Estate, Middlesbrough.

The circle contains examples of the three major rock types. There appears to be no obvious grading of the stones according to size. There is evidence of the re-use of stones, particularly three Shap granite boulders. There is some evidence of burning within the circle. A number of the stones have been decorated.

A potential alignment to the Winter Solstice sunrise over Godfaltar Hill.

Burl classification (1)

Thanks to Barry Jobson


Markse Road, Ox Close, Wilton Bank, Pithills, Hob Hill, Four Lanes End, Village Wood, Beacon Moor, Errington Wood, Marske Quarry, Falkland Walk, Quarry Lane, Plummer’s Bank,

The edgelands are slowly dissolving


A dream job


Were the Hobs driven out by the ironstone miners or do they survive in the abandoned galleries beneath the Anglian burial ground?

When it snows, the children of Saltburn invade the golf course to sledge the banks. The greenkeepers don’t like the snow.

The path ends at the road, the road has no pavement, we are forced to walk in the gutters.

An aerial ropeway once spanned the low valley.

The rain arrives

 I collect a few flint fragments from the field margin including a small worked tool.

The terrier and I explore the woods and sandstone quarry. We disturb some deer, the terrier’s eyesight is not so good, he decides not to give chase. A pair of charcoal kilns lie in the quarry bottom waiting for spring to arrive

The quarry is much older than the ironstone workings futher down the slope. Sandstone from the quarry was used in local buildings and walls. The weathered quarry walls contain a number of niches.


Wet through and cold we head home along Quarry Lane.

Upleatham [Upelider DB, Uplithum c1150 Whitby, 1272 Ipm]. ‘Upper slopes.’ Cf. KIRKLEATHAM. U- is higher than Kirkleatham. Uplider DB seems to be a Scandanavianized form, ON Upphlioir.  The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names. Eilert Ekwall 1974





Blood-red. Was it blood?
Was it red-ochre, for warming the dead?
Haematite to make immortal
The precious heirloom bones, the family bones.

From Red by Ted Hughes

Skinningrove to Saltburn

Anyone who is unfamiliar with the history of Skinningrove may be confused by the cliffs that tower over Cattersty beach. The horizontally bedded Jurassic cliffs of the coast have been replaced by what appears to be the remnants of ancient lava flows.

The origin of the cliffs are not Volcanic, I guess they could be called Vulcanic. There was once a large iron works on the clifftop, slag from the blast furnaces would be tipped, by trains, over the cliff edge completely covering the existing strata.  The blast furnaces have long gone, the cliffs are home to nesting fulmars and the occasional peregrine falcon.


Vulcan – God of Fire, Volcanoes and Metalworkers

Skinningrove, a little creek formed by the Liverton Beck, has gained a weird picturesqueness by its ironworks on the verge of the cliff and its mountains of spoil from an iron mine. The Cleveland ironstone is used in conjunction with imported ironstone and if access can be obtained to the dressing-sheds – where the Cleveland ore is picked over by boys for the elimination of unprofitable stone – characteristic fossils, particularly the ammonite Amaltheus spinatus, can be obtained.

Geology of Yorkshire. PF Kendall & HE Wroot. 1924

Warsett trainThe train from Boulby potash mine skirts the edge of Warsett Hill passing the fan house that used to ventilate the ironstone mine.  Mining has existed in North Yorkshire for almost a thousand years, steel tracks for railways are still made at Skinningrove.

FlowersTragically, two young local men were recently found dead at the foot of the cliffs at Saltburn.

Eston Nab – A Response to Craig Hornby

The background to this post is a proposal by Craig Hornby to build a new monument on Eston Nab. Craig had posted his plan on the Friends of the Eston Hills (FOEH) Facebook page and invited comments. I recently posted a link to a blog on the page which prompted Craig to directly address me on the FOEH facebook page. My response to him is rather long-winded so I thought a blog post would be an appropriate reply.

Craig’s proposal can be see here 

Hi Craig,

the linked blog isn’t mine, it belongs to Mick Garratt. I posted it as I thought it would be of interest to the group.

Regarding your comments

As the proposed developer I’m sure you have read the schedule for this area and understand the level of protection that has been placed on this National Monument, but for those who haven’t, here’s an excerpt

Eston Nab is the only surviving hillfort of any date in the county of Cleveland; it is very well preserved and, although it has been subject to partial excavation, the extent of disturbance is limited and its archaeological deposits remain largely intact. Evidence relating to its construction and to the complex history of the entire hilltop as well as the nature and duration of its use will be preserved within the archaeological deposits. Evidence relating to the Bronze Age environment around the monument and of the wider landscape will also survive. The importance of this monument is enhanced by the survival of contemporary settlements and funerary monuments in the vicinity; such evidence provides a clear indication of the extent of Bronze Age settlement and activity in the area and has the potential to increase greatly our knowledge of Bronze Age society. 


NAME: Eston Nab hill fort, palisaded settlement and beacon

SCHEDULING REVISED ON 16th February 1993

You are proposing the construction of a structure with a footprint , I’m guessing here because it is not fully detailed on your plans, of approximately 4 x 11m. The structure, railings and footpaths will all require foundations, that is an area of destruction covering approximately 44+ square meters on a regionally important, archaeologically sensitive, National Monument. That to me is a far worse case of vandalism than anything that currently happens on the moor. Litter & burned-out cars can be removed, the moor regenerates after a fire but the deliberate and irreversible destruction of our archaeological heritage is unforgivable.

Previous excavation has shown that the land below your proposed development was occupied by people in the Bronze Age, the first Teessiders. They lived, farmed and buried their dead on this land. These were our ancestors and the moor not only carries archaeological value, it carries spiritual value, your plan you will be deliberately desecrating this ground for what? Their monument is the moor.

You’ve stated that a ‘new dig’ will be undertaken, will this dig cover the whole site? who has agreed to undertake it?

Any excavation may well reveal new findings but the process of excavation involves the destruction of the materials you are excavating, what will be left for future generations? some old dig reports and a box of finds? Over Five thousand years of intact archaeological deposits will be lost for the sake of a monument that commemorates a period of a hundred years. You talk about legacy, if your development were to go ahead, I believe it will be viewed by future generations as an act of vanity at best, ignorant and wilful vandalism at worse.

So what else can be done?

  • Situate the monument in a more appropriate place, i.e. amongst the community whose dead it commemorates.
  • A monument already exists on the site, unlike the proposed monument, this one is built of local stone by local people and is already a well-loved Teesside landmark. The existing monument is not included in the schedule and could therefore be altered, plaques erected and the whole thing rededicated to the miners.
  • Use the monies raised to create an FOEH Endowment fund to train one or two full time local wardens. As well as keeping an eye on the moor they could work with local groups and landowners on the history, ecology and archaeology of the moor much in the same way National Park wardens do.
  • Create a volunteer group to support the wardens and engage with other local groups, schools, young offenders etc.
  • Your film, A Century of Stone, successfully told the story of the mines and is a fitting legacy to the community of mining families who lived in Eston, it has massively raised awareness of our local mining legacy. What about the FOEH fundraising to commission a similar film to tell the full story of the hills? This will reach far more people than some words and pictures on a foreign, black granite monolith ever could. Any profits from the film can be ploughed back into FOEH.

Ultimately Craig, this is all talk, the decision whether this development should go ahead does not lie with you, me or FOEH, it lies with the people who are charged with protecting our finite, irreplaceable, fragile national monuments.