British Steel – South Teesside 1974

Mark Lawton very kindly sent me a scan of a book that he’d recently found. It’s a lovely snapshot from 1974 of the South Teesside Works when it employed 16,000 people.

You can download the whole book using the link at the bottom of the page

Early Neolithic salt production at Street House, Loftus, north-east England

‘Evidence for prehistoric salt production in Britain has been confined to the Bronze and Iron Ages. This article presents new evidence for Early Neolithic (3800–3700 BC) salt-working at Street House, Loftus, in north-east England.’

Read the article here Antiquity

Thanks to Jon Purday for pointing me to the article. Jon’s comment, ‘Extending the locality’s chemical processing even further back to a Neolithic salt works at Loftus.’


Escaping the crowds of Saltburn we headed to Cattersty Sands. Skinningrove has none of the seaside amusements of it’s neighbour so sees far less visitors, what it does have is a beautiful beach and a very good fish and chip shop which sadly was closed today.

Iron was mined here before the discovery of the main seams in the hills at Eston and prior to mining, iron-rich stone was collected from the beaches at Hummersea. An ironworks was established above the town in the late nineteenth century to process the local iron ore with coal and limestone imported from County Durham. The slag from the furnaces was poured onto the cliffs and also used as a building material in and around the village. The cliffs are an impressive site and are now home to nesting Fulmars and Jackdaws.

The names Cattersty, Hummersea and Skinningrove are all Scandinavian in origin. The cliffs to the south of the village are the highest on the east coast. Archaeologist Dr. Steve Sherlock’s work at nearby Street House has revealed evidence of occupation since at least 3900BC.

The Skinningrove/Loftus area does not see a great many visitors compared to other parts of our district but it has a fascinating landscape and rich history, all well worth seeking out. If none of this interests you and you just fancy a walk on a mile of so of beautiful uncluttered beach I’d recommend a trip to Cattersty.

If you want to learn more about Dr. Sherlock’s work at Street House there is a video here of him giving an online lecture at the Royal Archaeological Institute.

The Skinningrove Merman



Old Men that would be loath to have their credyt crackt by a tale of a stale date, report confidently that sixty yeares since, or perhaps 80 or more, a sea-man was taken by the fishers of that place, where duringe many weeks they kepte in an oulde House, giving him rawe fishe to eate, for all other fare he refused; insteade of voyce he shreaked, and shewed himself courteous to such as flocked farre and neare to visit him; – fayre maydes were wellcomest guests to his harbour, whome he woulde beholde with a very earneste countenaynce, as if his phlegmaticke breathe had been touched with a sparke of love. – One day, when the good demeanour of this new gueste had made his hosts secure of his abode with them, he prively stoale out of doores, and ere he coulde be overtaken recovered the Sea, whereinto he plounged himself; – yet as one that woulde not unmannerly depart without taking his leave, from the mydle upwardes he raysed his shoulders often above the waves, and making signs of acknowledgeing his good entertainment to such as beheld him on the shore, as they interpreted yt; – after a pretty while he dived downe and appeared no more.

Rev. John Graves quoting William Camden

The History of Cleveland. 1808

Skinningrove Bay

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.

Low Tide 12:55 (O.58m)

 Cat Nab – Penny Hole – Cranedale – Stone Ridge – Huntcliff Foot – Bird Flight Goit – Seal Goit – Old Tom Foot Way – Jackdaw Crag – Blue Nook – Clay Shot – Cattersty



harvesting the meandering molluscs

clusters of proto-dolmen litter the wave-cut platform

A war-era concrete cist tumbled and upturned. The ice sheet long gone, boulder clay maintains its ten thousand year momentum

River Tees Entrance Tide Times