Goodbye to all that


This gallery contains 13 photos.

Kim Devereux-West – Land of Iron Cultural Heritage Assistant It’s that time already; my two year contract with the Land of Iron is almost over! With only a few days left on the clock I wanted to take a moment to … Continue reading

Making Pictures

Nicola White – Land of Iron Film Maker Intern

I’ve spent the past 12 weeks clambering over the North York Moors with my camera, capturing the elements that form the Land of Iron Landscape Partnership Scheme. This adventure has been challenging, hilarious and hot (given the summer we’ve had).

I began with the Combs Wood excavation, bugging the volunteers each morning by crouching on the ground to get the best shot as they dodged their wheelbarrows around me. It was incredible to see them constantly uncovering something new and seeing just how much had been hidden by the nature that surrounded us. See Combs Wood Part 1 – Volunteering, Combs Wood Part 2, and Combs Wood Part 3.

I also got involved with the Warren Moor Mine conservation work this summer. The details of the huge chimney still on site really are incredible. My video focuses on the lime mortar work that the team have completed on the engine beds, as well as all the previous clearing that has taken place during the project in order to preserve the features. It’s impressive to view the impact that Land of Iron has had on this area, and for that reason it’s recorded in my video. See Warren Moor – The Movie

I didn’t just concentrate on the impressive industrial building sights; I’ve also created a video showing the environmental conservation work undergone. From fences and walk ways at Fen Bog to forest work and tree planting across Rosedale, my video illustrates how this work is restoring habitats and encouraging rare species. See what I saw

The final video of my creation sets out to capture the entire essence of the Land of Iron. Focusing on the three main aspects – history, people, environment – this video uses interviews with the core team and footage that I’ve recorded throughout my summer with them, to explain what the programme is all about. See the whole picture …

This summer has been an incredible opportunity to learn and create. The people surrounding and supporting the Land of Iron scheme should receive a medal for all the work they do; constantly typing away on their keyboards in the office or covered in mud down a one-meter deep hole. It’s been a pleasure to dig in the mud with them for such a short time, and I hope I spend all my future summers in a similar way.

Something else … The Land of Iron Landscape Partnership Scheme is approaching its halfway point with building conservation works starting on site and teams of volunteers across the North York Moors helping us care for our fascinating industrial heritage. We’re currently undertaking an EVALUATION SURVEY – this is a really important way to check the scheme is heading in the right direction and achieving what it wants to. Please give us a few minutes of your time to tell us what you think. Your feedback will help shape the next stage of the programme. 

What on earth is going on?


This gallery contains 55 photos.

This Exploited Land of Iron is our HLF Landscape Partnership Scheme focused on the ‘blazing, booming, enterprising’* ironstone industry in and around the North York Moors in the 19th century, and its surviving legacy. The Scheme was officially launched in … Continue reading

Barn fit for an owl

Tammy Naylor – resident of Esk Valley and member of the This Exploited Land Executive Group

Now that the new footbridge spans the Murk Esk near the hamlet of Esk Valley I am regularly meeting friends from Dale End and Green End, not to mention seeing the early morning silver flash of our newly arrived barn owl. A beautiful sight greets the dawn as he spreads his wings and rises over the bridge, looking for rodents, before circling the old building connected with the whinstone mining, set in the bend of the river.

Historically Esk Valley and Green End were closely associated with whinstone mining. Whinstone is a hard basaltic rock formed when the Cleveland dyke cut up through local rocks during Tertiary times. Mines and quarries were opened on both sides of the valley in the 19th century, the stone being either crushed for road making material or knapped into stone setts to pave the streets of West Yorkshire. For the observant the dyke itself can be seen in the bed of the river under the railway viaduct and the Rail Trail dissects it in a short but deep cutting near the bridge. The newly resurrected bridleway follows the railway that brought the rock to the main Whitby to Pickering Railway for transportation. The barn that the owl sees as the perfect location is built of a jumble of brick linings from the nearby Beckhole Ironworks. These are both stories waiting to be told as part of This Exploited Land, along with the recycling of the abandoned industrial landscape by the natural environment.

The photo below is of the whinstone workers on the Green End side of the valley from circa 1900. The three ponies brought the stone out of the drifts and across the old bridge. They were housed in a now demolished stable in an old orchard off the Rail Trail.

Whinstone workers, Green End c. 1900 - from the Naylor Collection.


Dispatches from Esk Valley

Lady Elizabeth Kirk (founder and trustee of the Byways and Bridleway Trust) rides her horse over the new Murk Esk bridgeSince this post was published the bridge has been completed and is now officially opened.



Tammy Naylor – resident of Esk Valley and member of the This Exploited Land Executive Group

Rebuilding connections

The last few weeks has been a momentous occasion in the normally quiet hamlet of Esk Valley*. The four lads that have been constructing the bridge (commissioned by the National Park Authority) which will replace one missing from over the Murk Esk since the 1930s, got to the stage of spanning the river. To do this was quite a task, with no crane on site and involved a lot of measuring and checking before gently winching the front edge towards the abutment.

Bridge construction using A frame - by Tammy Naylor

This was quite a leap of faith to let the beautiful curved span lower across the river but, with the help of an old fashioned A-frame on the opposite bank, it is now in place and it’s something special to see. Today there was the regular sound of hammering as the treads are nailed in place. It won’t be long now until we are again linked to Crag Cliff, Green End and the moors.

Bridge construction at Esk Valley - NYMNPA

The original bridge was built in the 1830s to transport whinstone from the mines near Green End, on to the Whitby and Pickering Railway, so is a very important structure, being so early in date. There was no settlement of Esk Valley until 1858, just a solitary farm. The ponies that hauled the tubs over the bridge were stabled on the west side of the bridge and the mine continued to operate until approximately 1935. The bridge then went out of use and would have been badly damaged by three successive floods in the same decade.

It will be a huge step forward to see the bridge re-instated and will open up many circular walks around the Murk Esk Valley.

Closer look  

The results of the HLF funded LiDAR survey** recently taken over the Murk Esk Valley are eagerly anticipated in this neck of the woods. The day itself dawned with a beautiful still morning. While out for a walk with my dog the plane was conspicuous in the sky as it criss-crossed above my head like a lazy butterfly.

The conditions were perfect for the survey. When I went down to Grosmont, a work colleague with a passion in all things ‘Aerial’, had not only clocked the plane but also the TEL archaeologist hiding in the bushes taking photos. Several parish councillors also said they had seen the fly past, at the meeting that evening, so all said and done you can’t get away with anything in down town Grosmont.

LiDAR survey flight - NYMNPA

*Esk Valley is a hamlet at the bottom end of the Murk Esk Valley, the Murk Esk is a tributary of the main Esk; the main river valley where the River Esk runs is often called Esk Dale and sometimes called Esk Valley. I hope that’s clear.

**This initial LiDAR survey has been commissioned through the This Exploited Land HLF Landscape Partnership currently in its development phase. The results will help locate and identify industrial heritage remains in Coombs Wood in the Murk Esk Valley.

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Looking forward

Geoff Taylor – Kirby, Great Broughton & Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group; and member of the This Exploited Land Executive Group

“As a volunteer supporter of the This Exploited Land (TEL) project from its early days there are some really positive potentials for our Partnership to build on. Whilst the public often view the North York Moors as a fairly static and unchanging landscape our role is to interpret and preserve some of the features which made it an area of rapid and dynamic progress during a period when Britain led the world in the making of iron and steel.

It took some courage to seize upon industrial archaeology as the basis for a Heritage Lottery Fund bid but our success at first try has given us great heart and our two person team of Stephen Croft and Louise Cooke have already generated great progress toward the stage 2 submission of our proposals by late 2015; the interval is as frustrating as it is necessary!

Looking across Rosedale

The ‘Rosedale railway’ line is walked by thousands each year as part of the ‘Coast to Coast’ walk. A brief diversion toward the Incline above Ingleby Greenhow or onto the giant flat contour loop in the direction of the Rosedale mines throws a whole new insight into the landscape and its past; the stone kilns must have appeared in thousands of photographs as a feature or stunning backdrop and yet the inevitable process of erosion and decay will take them and the story they represent from future generations unless we act to conserve these and similar features as we intend to do through TEL.

Rosedale East Kilns

Just as important is the task of reconnecting some of our local communities with their past; each of the stations on the Esk Valley line has its own story to tell and the challenge for us is to encourage and support the local population to research and share that story whilst it is still accessible. We hope to deliver heritage trails for each of our communities which once created can only serve to provide pride and a real sense of relevance and purpose from a different period of time.

Grosmont - junction of Esk Valley Line and NYM Railway

So much of Teesside and the North East of England’s heritage is based upon production – solid and tangible items like girders, ships, bridges and bolts – much of that has gone and we owe it to the people whose families played their part in that story and who still live in the area to preserve at least some elements for the generations yet to come. As part of the process we have the opportunity also to add significantly to the National Park’s current offering in terms of biodiversity – for industrial/post-industrial Teesside the North York Moors is still a green lung, a place to step back from the pressure of 21st century Britain.

Rosedale Bank Top KilnsFor young people, if TEL can achieve its aims some of our ‘pearls’ can become open air classrooms where the relatively straightforward technology of mining and engineering from that period can be displayed in ways which can be readily understood and these first principles once digested can lead children on to move to more complex and challenging processes.

The passage of the steam trains to and from the mines across the high moorland landscape must have been incredibly dramatic in the 19th century, the track bed was unfenced so that it must have been possible to stand within a few feet of one of these awesome transports throughout the year. We hope to recreate a little of that drama using virtual reality as part of our project so that anyone equipped with an Internet link can witness for themselves this aspect of our truly remarkable story.

Warren Moor Mine site

My own local history group based in Broughton, Kirby and Ingleby Greenhow linked up in partnership with the Rosedale History Society back in 2009 to support the work of Malcolm Bisby who had studied the Rosedale railway in great detail and to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its inception. That work proved to be one of the building blocks for the TEL project and we continue to strongly back the excellent National Park staff TEL Executive Group Meeetingwho will see the project through to completion. As our bid gathers substance and the detailed costings for conservation and interpretation come to hand we shall be able to publicise more of how the task is to tackled but we know we want to deliver to our visitors a really rich experience and with the team we have I am confident we can.”



Some thoughts on communities and heritage

Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Heritage Officer

Heritage is not just about breath-taking landscapes, bricks and mortar or rare species – it’s also about the communities who make, remake, use and visit places. The Oxford English Dictionary defines community as “all the people living in a specific locality”: they tell stories, talk about the weather, share knowledge and are always (as the academic Arjun Appadurai argues) ‘producing’ locality.

RosedaleEast_panorama cottages

The 200km2 of the This Exploited Land (TEL) Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership area is incredibly diverse – from Battersby and Rosedale in the west, to Goathland and Grosmont in the east, taking in the Esk and Murk Esk river valleys and all the communities that live and work here.

Here are some of my thoughts about TEL communities I have encountered so far.

Lost communities

As an archaeologist, one of the most exciting aspects of the TEL project is the evidence of ‘lost’ communities. As industry developed in the 19th century it attracted workers, and those workers and their families lived near to the industrial sites. The historical maps from the mid to the end of the 19th century show rows of terraced housing in Rosedale, Beckhole and at Warren Moor near Kildale. Whilst a number of those houses continued into contemporary occupation, a number were ‘lost’ with the reclamation of building materials meaning that the walls remain only as low ‘ruins’, or just as earthworks. This is one of the unique aspects of the TEL project area – after the period of rapid industrial expansion and population growth, decline set in just as quickly. People came and people went. Homes were no longer used and either fell into disrepair, or the building materials sold on and re-used. This pattern of expansion and decline (rather than re-use) is one of the factors that adds to the significance of the industrial archaeology within the TEL area.

Grand designs for industrial homes (Rosedale)Rosedale EastRosedale East

This time last year I was working on an archaeological site developing conservation approaches for structures from c. 12,000 BC, but here in the TEL area these archaeological sites are, at the most, only 150 years old. As TEL develops I hope the rich historical and social records from the Victorian period will help bring these sites, and the communities who lived and worked in them, to life in a way that is impossible on other much ‘older’ archaeological sites.

Living communities (part 1)

The industrial developments within the North York Moors laid the foundation for the later industrial developments in the neighbouring Cleveland Hills. On Sunday 6 July, Stephen (TEL Project Manager) and I attended a Service of Thanksgiving for the Cleveland Ironstone Industry, held at St Helen’s Parish Church at Carlin How, in conjunction with the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum. The service marked the 50th anniversary of the ‘conclusion’ of Cleveland Ironstone Mining.

A candle for each community: Boosbeck, Brotton, Skelton-in-Cleveland, Loftus, Carlin How and Skinningrove, Lingdale, Kilton, North Skelton.Candles for communities 1

The service really made me think (albeit whilst holding back the tears as the North Skelton Brass Band played Abide with Me and Jerusalem) about the close affiliation between people and place. About the distinctiveness of different communities linked with the different mines, and how those communities fundamentally changed when industry shifted. This is just as it would have been within the TEL area where the industry developed earlier and faded sooner (at the latest by the 1920s).

Skelton Band

What does heritage mean to you?

One of the tricky things about developing a heritage project is that ‘heritage’ means different things to different people. Each person may value something quite differently to the next person. So whilst communities are distinctive, within each there will be a diversity of opinions about what is important and therefore how it should be looked after.

The Heritage Lottery Fund defines community participation as; “involving people in the development of the services, sites and spaces that they use or are affected by”. The TEL Executive Group which is steering the development of the project, and the broader TEL Partnership Group, come from the communities within the TEL area and each person values different elements of the TEL project in different ways. They are keeping Stephen and myself busy and on our toes as the development work continues.

Much more about communities in future TEL blog posts.


This Exploited Land: under development

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.DSCF8516

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.DSCF8608

We’ll keep you posted as TEL develops.

This Exploited Land

Graham Lee – Senior Archaeological Conservation Officer

Imagine you are living and working in a quiet rural area, in a peaceful valley…when, suddenly, industry arrives on your doorstep…

It’s the 1830s. The fields below your farmhouse in the Esk Valley echo with the shouts and hammering from the navvies engaged in construction of the new-fangled means of transport – a railway – which your landlord has consented to being built through your fields along the floor of the valley. The railway has been designed by George Stephenson at the request of merchants and traders in Whitby to help improve access from the port to the inland towns and settlements of North Yorkshire.

Within a few years, ironstone deposits have been discovered by engineers in the bed of the river near the railway works which they were visiting. The ‘beds’ offer thicker deposits of ironstone than are otherwise known and, in a short time, the first ironstone mining within the region commences here. As the mines develop, a focus for settlement is created and the village of Grosmont starts to take shape and grow.

The ironstone from around Grosmont is plentiful and the new horse-drawn railway provides an efficient means of transport through to Whitby from where it is exported (known as ‘Whitby ironstone’) to ironworks in the North East, on the Rivers Tyne and Wear. This new source of ironstone transforms and stimulates the development of the North East’s iron industry. In the years up to 1850, there are about ten ironworks in production in the North East and seven of these are using ‘Whitby ironstone’.

As time passed, more ironstone deposits are sought out and more mines started, associated with the construction and development of the local rail network to enable the ironstone and iron products to be exported from the region.

Thus began the North of England’s rise to the position of the largest iron producing district in the world, a position it achieved by the mid 1860s. By 1873, just over 40 mines had been opened in the Main Seam ironstone alone, and (locally) Grosmont and Rosedale districts were at their busiest. Total output for the Cleveland mines exceeded 5 million tons for the first time that year and, between 1873-1914 (inclusive), the Cleveland mining industry (in terms of tonnage of iron output) produced on average 38% of total British ore output.

Now it’s 2013. This Exploited Land is the project the National Park has been shaping in partnership with local people – focusing on industrial heritage preservation, environmental conservation, and providing opportunities for access, involvement, education and interpretation – and based around the Esk and Murk Esk valleys, and Rosedale in the North York Moors. Recently the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded us a Landscape Partnership development grant and over the next 18 months we’ll be working up the project into an application for £3 million funding (+ £2 million matched funding/in kind contributions) to enable delivery on the ground.

It’s very exciting to have this long term aspiration turning into something actual. It’s about time that the importance of the North York Moors in the wider region’s industrial revolution is remembered.

We’ll let you know how it’s going …………….