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Between 206 and 150 Million Years, in the Jurassic era, the rocks forming the Cleveland Hills were deposited in a warm, shallow sea, which was later the site of a river delta. Over geological time, these sediments were compacted to form mudstones, shales, siltstones and sandstones. Of importance to us is the Cleveland Ironstone Formation, in the Lower Jurassic, which is around 29 metres of shales with silty shales and with hard beds of sideritic and chamositic ironstone. There are five main iron-rich horizons, or seams, as follows from the lowest upward: Avicula, Raisdale, Two Foot, Pecten and Main Seam. Higher parts of the Jurassic sequence include the Jet Formation, Alum Shales and sometimes coal seams, all of which had an economic value.

Ironstone has long been exploited in the area. There are, for example, extensive heaps of slag around Rievaulx Abbey, which was supressed in December 1538. The abbey and its ironworks were acquired by the earl of Rutland who continued working the latter. By 1545, four furnaces were smelting iron ore under the management of John Blackett, vicar of Scawton. The vaulted undercroft of the refectory was used to store the charcoal used as fuel. A blast furnace was added in 1577 and a forge was re-equipped between 1600 and 1612. Local supplies of timber for charcoal were all but exhausted by the 1640s, however, and the ironworks closed. Other remains from this period are found in Bilsdale, Bransdale, Rosedale and near Furnace House in Fryup Dale. Many of these early working appear to have concentrated on the Dogger Seam.

There were various attempts to mine ironstone in the early nineteenth century, with ore being quarried on the coastal outcrops. The Pecten seam was discovered at Grosmont during the making of a cutting for the Whitby and Pickering Railway and the newly formed Whitby Stone Company sent a cargo of ironstone to the Birtley Iron Company in 1836. It was rejected as being of poor quality, and it took the company some time to get its product right. Nevertheless, the following year the two companies agreed a sales contract.

It was not until August 1850 that Bolckow & Vaughan made a trial of the Main Seam was made by quarrying near Eston. Soon the workings moved underground, using pillar and stall, and became very large scale with over half a million tons of ironstone being raised annually in the mid 1850s.

Around 35 mines opened between Eston, Great Ayton and Hinderwell on the coast. There was a small group of mines at Grosmont and others in Rosedale. Railways were extended to the mines, and settlements built for the labour sucked into what had been a very rural area. After the initial rush of companies opening mines, a period of consolidation was needed as iron companies absorbed smaller ventures and workings were rationalised. Marginal mines closed. This process was helped by a down-turn in trade in the early to mid 1870s. Soon, a new generation of iron works was being built on Teesside. These used Bessemer convertors to turn the iron into steel, which was increasingly in demand. By 1883, therefore, production of Cleveland iron ore peaked at six and three-quarter million tons.

The quarter century before World War I saw many older mines close, further consolidation of companies and some new sinkings. Rock drills and mechanised haulages were used to increase efficiency and trim costs. Around twenty mines closed in the inter-war years. Many of the old companies were absorbed by Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd, which dominated the industry at the start of World War II. Only nine mines, all in the area between Guisborough and Brotton, survived the war. Efforts were made to make mining more efficient, diesel haulage was introduced below ground, as were compressed air loading shovels. The mines could not, however, compete with imported ore or that worked by opencast around Scunthorpe and Corby. North Skelton Mine was the last to close in January 1964.

Cleveland Ironstone Mines

Mine Location Opened Closed
Ailesbury Mine Whorlton 1872 1887
Aysdalegate Mine Lockwood 1863 1880 Closed 23/10/1880.
Ayton Banks Mine Great Ayton 1910 1929 Standing 1922 to 1928. Abandoned July 1929.
Ayton Mine Great Ayton 1908 1930
Bagnall and Co Mines Eskdaleside cum Ugglebarnby 1862 1864
Beckhole Mine Egton 1857 1864
Belmont Mine Guisborough 1854 1928 Abandoned 11/11/1886. Reopened in 1907. Abandoned 20/02/1933.
Birds Mine Eskdaleside cum Ugglebarnby 1858 1866
Birtley Mine Eskdaleside cum Ugglebarnby 1858 1878
Blakey Mine Farndale East 1873 1881
Boosbeck Mine Skelton 1872 1901
Boulby Mine Easington 1903 1934 Abandoned July 1934. Boulby Potash Mine sunk here in the late 1960s.
Brotton Mine Brotton 1865 1921
California Mine Eskdaleside cum Ugglebarnby 1863 1881
Carlin How Mine Kilton 1873 1924 Part of Lumpsey until 1946.
Chaloner Mine Guisborough 1872 1939 Part of Eston.
Cliff Mine Brotton 1866 1881 Abandoned October 1887.
Coate Moor Mine Kildale 1866 1876 Abandoned 19/07/1876.
Cod Hill Mine Guisborough 1853 1865
Commondale Mine Commondale 1863 1876
Craggs Hall Mine Brotton 1871 1893
Easington Mine Saltburn 1877 See also: Port Mulgrave
East Rosedale Mine Rosedale East Side 1866 1926
Esk Valley Mine Egton 1859 1883
Eskdale Mine Eskdaleside cum Ugglesbarnby 1906 1908
Eskdale Mine Eskdaleside cum Ugglesbarnby 1856 1870
Eskdaleside Mine Eskdaleside cum Ugglesbarnby 1871 1876
Eston Mine Guisborough 1856 1950
Farndale Mine Farndale East 1872 1897 See Blakey.
Fryup Mine Danby 1863 1874
Farndale Mine Farndale East 1872 1897 See Blakey.
Fryup Mine Danby 1863 1874
Glaisdale Mine Glaisdale 1879 Abandoned 30/03/1875.
Goldsborough Mine Lythe 1912 1915
Grinkle Mine Hinderwell 1872 1934 Abandoned 1934.
Grosmont Mine Eskdaleside cum Ugglesbarnby 1858 1892 West Side – Abandoned 15/05/1886.
Hays Mine Eskdaleside cum Ugglesbarnby 1836 1866
Hinderwell Mine Hinderwell 1854 1862
Hob Hill Mine Marske 1864 1874 Abandoned 17/04/1875.
Hollin Hill Mine Lockwood 1864 1880
Hollins Mine Eskdaleside cum Ugglebarnby 1863 1879
Hollins Mine Rosedale West Side 1856 1879
Huntcliffe Mine Brotton 1872 1905 Abandoned 1906.
Hutton Mine Hutton Lowcross 1854 1867
Ingelby Mine Ingleby Greenhow 1858 1865
Kildale Mine Kildale 1866 1878
Kilton Mine Kilton 1871 1963 Sinking in 1871. Closed 31/12/1963.
Kirkleatham Mine Tocketts 1873 1885 Abandoned 31/12/1886.
Lane Head Mine Rosedale West Side 1876 1881
Lease Rigg Mine Eskdaleside cum Ugglesbarnby 1837 1850
Leven Vale Mine Kildale 1864 1871 See Warren Moor.
Levisham Mine Levisham 1863 1874
Lingdale Mine Moorsholm 1877 1962
Liverton Mine Loftus 1866 1921 Abandoned 1923.
Loftus Mine Loftus 1848 1958 Abandoned 1959.
Longacres Mine Skelton 1873 1954 Closed 17/07/1915 and reopened from 1933 until 27/11/1954.
Lonsdale Mine Kildale 1865 1874
Lumpsey Mine Brotton 1880 1954 Sinking in 1880. Closed 27/11/1954.
Margrave Park Mine Skelton 1863 1874
Mirkside Mine Eskdaleside cum Ugglebarnby 1856 1861
New Bank Mine Guisborough 1850 1950
Normanby Mine Normanby 1856 1898 Abandoned in 1899.
North Loftus Mine Brotton 1872 1905
North Skelton Mine North Skelton 1865 1964 Closed 17/01/1964.
Port Mulgrave Mine Hinderwell 1856 1893
Postgate Mine Glaisdale 1870 1876
Raithwaite Mine Newholm-cum-Dunsley 1854 1858
Roseberry Mine Great Ayton 1880 1924
Rosedale East Rosedale Abbey 1866 1925 Abandoned 1928.
Rosedale on Coast Mine Hinderwell 1854 1876
Rosedale West Rosedale West Side 1860 1911 Abandoned March 1911.
Sheriffs Mine Rosedale West Side 1874 1911
Skelton Mine Skelton 1860 1938 Abandoned November 1938.
Skelton Park Mine Skelton 1868 1938 Abandoned April 1938.
Slapewath Mine Lockwood 1864 1899
Sleights Bridge Mine Sleights Bridge 1856 1859
South Belmont Mine Guisborough 1863 1875
South Skelton Mine Stanghow 1870 1954
Spa Mine Stanghow 1864 1904 Standing in 1903. Abandoned in 1904.
Spawood Mine Guisborough 1865 1930 Closed 28/06/1930. Abandoned April 1934.
Staithes Mine Hinderwell 1838 1860
Stanghow Mine Boosbeck 1872 1926
Swainby Mine Whorlton 1856 1868
Tocketts Mine Tocketts 1874 1877 Abandoned in 1880.
Upleatham Mine Marske 1851 1923
Upsall Mine Upsall 1866 1927 Merged with Eston from 1870.
Warren Moor Mine Kildale 1864 1874
Waterfall Mine Tocketts 1892 1901
Wayworth Mine Commondale 1866 1867 Sinking 1866 to 1867.
West Rosedale Mine Rosedale West Side 1856 1911
Whitecliffe Mine Loftus 1871 1884
Wintergill Mine Egton 1871 1883
Wreckhills Mine Hinderwell 1856 1864

Not listed above:

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