Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Heritage Officer
In late 2013 the North York Moors National Park Authority received a 1st round pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership Programme for ‘This Exploited Land: the trailblazing story of ironstone and railways in the North York Moors’
This Exploited Land (TEL) will tell the story of pioneering ironstone exploitation and iron making together with the early development of railways along the remote valleys of the North York Moors, as well as their forgotten communities. It will reveal the impact this sudden explosion of industrialisation had on the landscape, and its national and international significance. In practical terms the Programme will record, conserve and protect the now fragile remains from a period of about 100 years starting in 1830 and ending with the closure of the Rosedale Railway in 1929.
I’ve been in post as the Heritage Officer for just over a month now, forming a small TEL team of myself (part-time), and Stephen Croft (full-time Project Officer). It has been a fantastic month getting to grips with the project and how the National Park Authority works.
Over the next 18 months we will be working towards submitting our required Landscape Conservation Action Plan (LCAP) which will detail the projects and physical works we’ll be looking to carry out in the third stage of the Programme from 2016 to 2021. As long as the Heritage Lottery Fund are happy with our Action Plan we can have the funding (up to £3 million) to deliver this third stage.
At this early development stage site visits are one of the most important elements. The initial visits we’ve been making have been about identifying possible works and schemes. They are also about getting to know the sites better, looking at their condition and their conservation needs and potential, as well as getting to grips with how we can tell the landscape’s stories of the past in the present.
TEL is the culmination of many years of work on the often forgotten industrial archaeology of the North York Moors, so the ‘shopping basket’ of ‘things we would like to be able to do if we had the money’ is not inconsiderable. As we work on the next stage of our submission to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Stephen and I have to manage the tricky process of converting our ‘shopping basket’ of ideas into projects and initiatives we can then deliver with our partners and within our budget.
Some of the most fascinating aspects I’ve found so far are the little things – the small features that add to the significance of the whole landscape, linking the production of iron and the creation of railways, to the people and the landscape as we perceive it today. The metal fixtures on the historic bridges along the Rail Trail around Beck Hole may seem a rather small element (especially when compared with the iconic large scale landscapes of Rosedale) but they are an important detail in the This Exploited Land story.
We’ll keep you posted as TEL develops.