Teesmouth for BBC Radio 3, Sounding Change – Nell Catchpole

This sound piece for Radio explores the Tees estuary – it’s living beings and geography – and highlights the current mass marine die-offs, most likely caused by deep dredging to build a new freeport.

Listen here

Thanks to Murdo Eason

Holwick Scar – Whinstone

A few weeks ago Graham and I were stood on Harberry Hill looking south across Teesdale. I could see the scar running beneath the scarp edge of Holwick Moor. I was trying to figure out how I had previously overlooked such a massive outcrop of limestone, Graham put me right ‘it’s the Whin Sill’..of course it is. On returning home my mind kept taking me back to the Scar, we decided to return.

The Tees – Powler’s frozen suds.

Frost-shattered stone.

The road to Holwick

The Scar
Sentinel – Columnar Jointing
Drumlins and The Scar – Holwick from Castles.
Above the Scar – Holwick Fell, Prehistoric cairns poke through the coarse grasses.
Above the Scar – Carboniferous Limestone outcrops on the fell top.
Above the Scar – Sand Force waterfall, mid-thaw.
Below the Scar – Low Pikestone barn.

Erasing Ironopolis – A Sad Day

Large drinks all round for Mayor Ben Houchen and his ‘independent’ Teesworks Heritage Committee.

Committee Members

Co-Chair – Kate Willard OBE Chair of the Board of Directors Teesside International Airport Ltd and also its holding company Goosepool

Co-Chair – Jacob Young MP. Director Teesworks – South Tees Development Corporation

Member – John Baker. Former Member of South Tees Development Corporation, Director South Tees Site Company

Member – Dr. Tosh Warwick. Heritage Consultant

Member – Laura Case, Head of Culture & Tourism. Representing Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council

Image via Change.org

Greta Bridge – Prehistoric carved stone

Currently in the grounds of the Bowes Museum, this stone was found at Greta Bridge, during improvement work to the A66. The stone was used to cover a Roman burial and was close to the site of a Roman fort. The carvings on the slab are prehistoric, it has been suggested that it originally covered a prehistoric cist burial, the stone was later re-used by the Romans. Another prehistoric carved stone The Gainford Stone is on display inside the museum. This stone was also used to cover a prehistoric cist burial.

The Old River

…Who shall say

That the river

Crawled out of the river, and whistled,

And was answered by another river?

A strange tree

Is the water of life …

Ted Hughes. Visitation. 1981

When Stockton was the principal port of the Tees it could take ships up to two days to travel from the river mouth to the quays. To improve the river, and decrease the travel time for ships, two great loops were cut out of the course of the river. The first cut, the Mandale, was opened in 1810 followed by a second cut, the Portrack, which was completed in 1831. A brief history of the straightening of the river can be found here.

Carl Mole and I decide to follow the course of the Old River Tees around the Mandale loop.

The mouth of the old river meets the Tees just opposite Blue House Point. The old river has been channelled into a culvert that runs across the nearby railway marshalling yards.

In the river, a large seal keeps a lazy eye on us, a group of Arctic Terns are noisily quarrelling, they’ll soon be on their way to Antarctica.

The river runs beneath the Wilderness road and the A66 dual carriageway, it then flows beneath an unused bridge onto Teesside Retail Park where it is hidden from view behind a large embankment. The shoppers and cinema goers are largely unaware of its existence.

Beneath the Teesside Park bridge, a secret galley, hidden from the busy world above.

A sunken fleet of shopping trolleys are revealed by the midday sun.

Upstream, the river is tidal, run-off water dilutes the salty river, tiny fish swim around the mouths of the culverts.

The river, canalised within concrete walls, runs beside the dual carriageway.

Concrete gives way to beautiful reed beds, we watch as dragonflies flit over the water. The river divides into two, the Fleet heads south to become the Stainsby and Blue Bell Becks, the old river heads west to Thornaby, its flow drastically reduced by a large sluice. Beyond the sluice the tide has no effect on the old river.

The path follows the course of the river to passing Teesdale Park home of Thornaby FC who play in Northern League division one. The team has a Bermudian player, Quinaceo Hunt, ‘Q’ keeps goal for his national side.

We follow the course through the Harewood pleasure gardens, it’s hard to believe that masted ships, bound for the Port of Stockton, used to pass along here. All that remains now is a muddy bed barely two strides wide.

This image of a single-masted sloop was etched onto a piece of lead removed from the church roof at Haughton Le Skerne. It dates to the 18th century and gives some idea of the type of ships that were plying their trade along our coasts and rivers.

The narrow, dry, beck valley disappears into a forest of elder and brambles on the edge of the A66, there are no further traces.

Flotsam

In 1859 a great storm, which became known as the Royal Charter Storm, caused between fifty and sixty vessels to be wrecked within sight of the Tees Bay and Hartlepool. This tragic event was the catalyst for the construction of the South Gare. Work began in 1863 and was completed in 1888