End of an era

Our Senior Archaeologist is taking phased retirement, so before he goes he has been asked to reflect on his time with the North York Moors National Park.

Graham Lee – Senior Archaeological Conservation Officer

graham-leeHow do I sum up a career lasting over a quarter of a century in a few paragraphs? It is a strange feeling to have 26 years seemingly flash by so fast.

I started work for the North York Moors National Park in April 1990, having previously worked in the archaeology section of North Yorkshire County Council since the summer of 1983. I had decided many years before that I loved the north of England and had no desire to return to my southern ‘roots’.

Graham had decided many years before that he loved the north of England, whatever the weather ... Copyright - NYMNPA.One of my first tasks with the National Park was the completion of a management survey of one of our large estates, encompassing moorland and large blocks of forestry. This quickly whetted my appetite for the excitement of making new archaeological discoveries – often very subtle earthworks, no more than a handful of centimetres in depth or relief – despite an exceptional tradition of previous high quality archaeological fieldwork in the region. Working solo in large blocks of conifers was a good test of dedication – crawling under the branches of dense stands of conifers searching for vague earthworks mapped in the 1890s – and the steadiness of nerve, when yet another wretched pheasant exploded out of the leafy vegetation where I was just about to step! In recent years the delights of discovery have been broadening thanks to new technology and techniques, especially LiDAR which provides an aerial view through tree and ground-cover vegetation of archaeological remains that were previously hidden or obscured.

If you have a passion for the past, the North York Moors have something for pretty much everyone – enigmatic Neolithic rock art; surviving prehistoric pitted boundaries and avenues; upstanding Bronze Age funerary monuments and field systems; Roman encampments; medieval castles and monasteries…

Human industry is also well represented – from the earliest iron industry through the search for alum into the full-blown “iron rush” of the mid 19th century, the exploitation of coal and jet, and the plentiful local rivers managed to provide motive power for a range of watermills. Research and conservation priorities relating to these local industries finally led to our new HLF Landscape Partnership Scheme, This Exploited Land of Iron. Some 15 or so years in gestation, it is very rewarding to see new generations captured by the excitement of the important remains of our 19th century ironstone industry and the associated development of early railways – although the original scheme for a canal link between Whitby and Pickering would have been a sight to behold and a major tourist attraction if it had ever been built.

Into the 20th century, remains survive here from both world wars – in the form of coastal defences, army camps as well as troop training and target practice areas. Finds are still occasionally made of 2nd World War unexploded ordnance in former training areas across the North York Moors, in particular after the wildfire on Fylingdales Moor in 2003 which affected two square kilometres of heather moorland.

Fylingdales Moor after teh wildfire in 2003. Copyright - NYMNPA.

Although an environmental disaster – the severity of the fire in reducing the shallow peat cover to ash, this event was an archaeological revelation. Virtually everywhere you looked, subtle archaeological remains became visible, including the drip gulleys around former prehistoric round houses, low stony prehistoric boundaries and cairns, large numbers of previously unrecorded examples of Neolithic rock art and occasional shallow trenches which resembled grave cuts with a subsiding infill. As numbers of the latter quickly increased their interpretation became clear – slit trenches from 2nd World War troop training. I remember my first visit to the site after the fire when the ground was reddened and blackened, covered in ash and still smouldering; few trees had survived and many had toppled after the peat holding their roots in place had been burnt away. Flashes of colour were very noticeable, such as an adder emerging from its underground refuge having survived the conflagration. A major project ensued, both to protect and restore the moorland habitat and to record and investigate the breath-taking remains of surviving archaeology.

Rosedale Calcining Kilns in a perilous state. Copyright - NYMNPA.There have always been new specialisms to get to grips with. A visit to the Scheduled Rosedale iron calcining kilns with the Park’s Conservation Director at the time revealed that a portion of one of the kilns’ firebrick linings had collapsed the previous winter. This led to a major conservation project to stabilise these huge monuments which ran for three years in the mid 1990s, a forerunner of This Exploited Land which will continue the efforts to conserve these monumental sites 20 years on.

Conservation project to stabalise the Calcining Kilns in the 1990s. Copyright - NYMNPA.

It has been such a pleasure working with like-minded and dedicated professionals, both in my own National Park, but also with colleagues throughout the family of British National Parks, and Historic England and Natural England. We’ve shared experiences and ideas to the betterment of our discipline from research to management, and also shared the excitement of attempting to bring our subject, which we love, to life for anyone who cares to see and to get involved.

Graham at work - examining finds at an archaeological excavation - Coxwold Creative Minds Project, March 2006. Copyright - NYMNPA.

The National Park Authority is currently looking for a new Senior Archaeologist to lead on archaeology in the North York Moors. The closing date for applications is 26 January 2017.

This Exploited Land – a poetic mix of Victorian beauty and brass

Tom Mutton – TEL Programme Manager

When businessmen visited the Beck Hole Ironworks in 1860 their report in the Whitby Gazette gave a beautifully poetic account of this new enterprise. Despite the author’s lyrical writing style the article also illustrates a perceived total domination over the natural world that was the foundation of the industrial revolution.

This is partly what This Exploited Land is all about. Although in modern times we may miss the elegant language of the Victorian era, many of us have a very different view of the natural world and the potentially devastating effects of humanity’s exploitation of the planet. The way that nature has reclaimed the mines of the Esk Valley and Rosedale is humbling to see and shows us that we are surrounded by a beautiful and fascinating world that we should use our intellect to care for rather than abuse. To do this best we need to remember and learn from the past, being inspired by the monumental relics in the landscape and the stories from our ancestors who lived very different lives in the North York Moors we now enjoy.

Transcribed from Whitby Gazette 16 June 1860:

“…It is our pleasing duty to report the successful operation of the Whitby Iron Company’s (Limited) Works, at Goathland, which we noticed in our last impression as having been blown in on 7th inst.

A few of our principal townsmen spent Monday evening at those Works, and were delighted with the various departments. The magnificent engine which supplies the blast for smelting the iron from the ore moves round like a thing of life, and at once the ever-lasting hills of the valley resound with the voice as of a tide bursting upon our shores.

We heartily wish the Company success, as the pioneers in a pursuit which is destined to revolutionise the habits and maxims of the valley of the Esk, and with the facility of the rails and our own good port, we venture, the day is not distant when capital and enterprise will demand that the whole of the district become one grand scene of industry, and that, from one end of the valley to the other, Old King Coal, supported by the genius of man, will assert his power in developing those vast storehouses of wealth which, during the last few years, have attracted the attention of strangers to those exhaustless beds of minerals which nature has provided and stored up in this locality, for the use of man in the arts of civilised life. And Whitby will one day have to rejoice in the fact, that she is one of the principal ports in the kingdom for the export of iron to the commercial ports of the world.

Beckhole, the little village at the head of the valley where these works are situate, has now a strange sight to look out upon morning and evening, which are ushered in with a torrent of molten iron and a flood of lava gushing forth from the bowels of the company’s furnace. The sweet songsters of the woods and glens are now giving up their claim to the morning’s dawn and evening calm. The _________ voices of the sons of toil mingling with the music of the compressed air of the blast engine, wait for the dawn of the East, whilst the perpetual columns of vapour, smoke, and flame, tell of the presence of man, successfully reducing to practice the maxim of the company’s tablet, viz “Tis the prerogative of man to command, develope, and appropriate to his service the elements with which God has surrounded him.” The tablet at the foot of which the above inscription is fixed commemorates the incorporation of the Company, the date at which the first Iron was made upon the Works, and the names of the Directors; and was cast from the Iron first run from the furnace.

In this noble course of action the W.I.C.L., have led the way. We heartily wish them god speed, and doubt not the success which awaits their spirited enterprise; and hail with joy the event as a blessing to the surrounding neighbourhood, and the watchword to the progressive establishment if similar works, whose effect will be to convert this district into one of the most thriving seats of the iron trade of this country, creating labour for man and beast, and scattering in its train the blessings of trade hitherto unknown in the locality.”

WICL commemorative tablet - thanks to the Whitby Museum.

This tablet, referred to in the article and cast from the first Esk Valley iron, can be seen today in Whitby Museum.

It’s worth noting that Whitby Iron Company Limited was short lived – it was wound up in 1862.

Can you help?
There are two words in the article that are obscured by a tear in the paper from which it was transcribed – can you suggest what the missing words before ‘voices of the sons of toil…’ might be? please let us know.

Extract from the Whitby Gazette 16 June 1860 - thanks to Tammy Naylor.

This Exploited Land: the trailblazing story of ironstone and railways in the
North York Moors

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This Exploited Land – hitting the ground running

Tom Mutton – TEL Programme Manager

This Exploited Land (TEL), our HLF Landscape Partnership Scheme, is now building up steam with projects starting on the ground and the recruitment of new project staff underway. As well as myself we’ve got Elspeth Ingleby as our Natural Heritage Officer and Thelma Wingfield as our Administrative Assistant. The remaining two TEL vacancies for a Cultural Heritage Officer and a Volunteer Coordinator are expected to be filled by January. Special thanks to Louise Cooke for building and nurturing the Scheme to where it is today. We hope Louise will continue to be involved with TEL and will see all the project ideas become a reality over the next five years.

One of the first projects underway is the repair of the landslip at the East Kilns in Rosedale. The landslip is on the line of the old Rosedale Railway and is a popular route round the top end of the dale. The remedial engineering works will maintain safe access along the path, enable vital practical access to the two sets of kilns which will be subject to major consolidation during 2017/18, and help conserve into the future the distinctive landscape feature of the railway embankment as it carves its way along the hillside.

Rosedale East landslip - before start of works. Copyright NYMNPA.

The works to stabilise the embankment and rebuild the path involve digging away all the loose material down to firm foundations and constructing four tiers of stone-filled gabion baskets topped with a new stone path. The front of the baskets that will be visible after the works have been faced with soil filled bags containing a specially selected moorland grass seed mix. Despite the cool autumn weather this seed is already germinating.

The works are due to be completed and the path reopened by mid-November.

During the works archaeologists have been keeping a watching brief to help identify and understand the construction of the railway. A couple of original sleepers were salvaged, one with the track shoe still in place. The profile of how the track was built up using waste from the calcining kilns (red/brown) and cinders from engines (black) can be clearly seen in the photograph below taken during the excavation.

Rosedale landslip repairs autumn 2016 - section through the railway track bed showing original materials used. Copyright NYMNPA.

Rosedale landslip repairs autumn 2016 - original sleepers from railway track. Copyright NYMNPA.

Regular monitoring of the landslip by local residents reported on the Rosedale Abbey Blog had showed the slip getting progressively worse so time was of the essence for these repairs at the beginning of TEL. Now the same residents have been reporting on the works underway and will continue to monitor the site as it recovers.

To sign up for the mailing list for This Exploited Land and find out more about our exciting Landscape Partnership Scheme – see here.

This Exploited Land: the trailblazing story of ironstone and railways in the
North York Moors

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A place in time

The A B C of Rosedale by Ralph Mayman
Thanks to the Ryedale Folk Museum and the Rosedale History Society

This poem was written in the early 1930s at the end of Rosedale’s industrial age, and is a rare primary source. The Rosedale Railway had just closed in 1929, the last working component in the area’s ironstone industry.

The rhyming couplets present the landscape and the character of the dale, at that particular point in time, referencing the industrial structures alongside natural features, local buildings and people. There is an impression of time and continuity – linking before industry and after – the dale is returning to ‘Quietude true and sincere’, the mines are already ‘old’, and the name Leeman (co-owner of the 19th century Rosedale and Ferryhill Iron Company) is falling out of use. But the shops are still open, left over from ‘Busier days’, and there is a proviso – ‘For the present’ – attached to the ‘engines and drivers have gone’, as if industry could yet return.

A.    Stands for Avenue, many know well,
Which leads into Rosedale, of which I shall tell.

B.    Stands for Busier days Rosedale has seen,
But her beauty’s the same as of yore I ween.

C.   Stands for Chimney the storm beaten pile,
Which can easy be seen for any a mile.

D.   Stands for Douker wood, way down below,
In the vale where the violets and bluebells grow.

E.   Stands for Engine shed, left all alone,
For the present its engines and drivers have gone.

F.   Florence Terrace, once a busy place,
To one, Florence Leeman its name we trace.

G.   Stands for Grange farm, on first turn to right,
‘ere’ the beautiful avenue comes into sight.

H.   Stands for its Hills, which tower so high,
When lads we thought that they reached to the sky.

I.    Its Ivy clad church, to there now we’ll repair,
For the names of The Lads are recorded there.

J.   Stands for our old friend Jonathon Robertshaw,
He lives at Burn’s cottage, Primrose Villas you know.

K.   Reminds us, Knott cottage way up the hillside,
The pleasant home where Mat Peirson’s reside.

L.   Stands for Leeman Grove built long years ago,
It has now got another name “School Row”.

M.   Stands for Moorland, where when not wrapped in snow,
The Travellers Joy, and the white Heather grows.

N.   Stands for Northdale, where if you search well,
You will find on its hillside the place called Job’s well.

O.   Old Magnetic ore mines at Rosedale West,
For quality this was the very best.

P.   Stands for Plane Trees an imposing spot,
You’ll find Robert Watson still there casts his lot.

Q.   Stands for Quietude true and sincere,
If you love this life best you may find it here.

R.   Readman’s boot shop your repairs here may send,
He has often had boots sent from Scotland to mend.

S.   Stands for Spenceley and Stamper as well,
At whose store nearly everything they sell.

T.   Stands for Thorgill, of this place we must tell,
You will find Charley Waller lives down in the dell.

U.   Up to its crags we will now pass along,
Where the Rock pigeon nests and the fox has its young.

V.   Verdant valley where the cattle graze,
And the streams trickle down through the leafy maze.

W.   Wood End Villas, in the tall trees near by,
May often be heard the Wood Peckers cry.

X.    Stands for Xmas, and don’t think it queer,
But here as else where it comes once a year.

Y.    Stands for Yatts farm with Hartoft quite near,
The Peirson’s have lived here for many a year.

Z.    Zig Zag climb to Bank Top you ascend,
Where the motorist oft fail on the hair-pin bend.

Relics of the industrial structures can still be found in Rosedale, as can the woodland and moorland, the trees, the buildings, and the family names. Although the Chimney has gone, Chimney Bank with its ‘Zig Zag climb’ remains. 

The This Exploited Land Landscape Partnership Scheme (the trailblazing story of ironstone and railways in the North York Moors) will help understand and enhance the landscape and its legacy of 19th century ironstone exploitation, preserving it for future generations.

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From Beck Hole to Brazil

Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Progamme Manager

This Exploited Land has a wealth of stories to tell. These stories from the past can be traced on the landscape today and have tracks stretching out beyond the North York Moors.

For 30 years from 1836 the trains along the new Whitby to Pickering railway had to overcome the 1:15 incline at Beck Hole. The carriages were initially horse-drawn but when the trains came up against the steep gradient of the incline between Beck Hole and Goathland the only way up and down was pulling and holding the carriages on a system of wire ropes. Steam power took over from horses in 1845, but trains still had to negotiate the incline by means of winches. Winches are intrinsically dangerous; a fatal accident occurred in 1864. The delays, problems and dangers of using the incline motivated the construction of a more practical deviation line in 1865. This allowed steam locomotives to travel along the complete line for the first time, and this is the current route of the North York Moors Railway.

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Above is a detail of the TEL Lidar survey undertaken in the development phase of the TEL Scheme. The defined line at the top shows the route of the current NYMR Whitby-Pickering Railway. The less defined line through the centre shows the route of the Beck Hole Incline.

So what happened to the ‘abandoned’ Beck Hole incline which connects the TEL landscape to Brazil and to innovations in railway technology that changed the ways railways worked through the 20th century…

In 1872 a 685 metre length of 3’7” (narrow) gauge track was laid on the disused Beck Hole Incline and successful tests were carried on a fell-system locomotive built by Manning & Wardle of Leeds. A fell-system uses a third rail to provide the necessary extra power and control when travelling up and down intense slopes. Manning & Wardle narrow gauges were exported around the world to Europe, Africa, the Indian sub-continent, Australasia and South America – so this short stretch of the Beck Hole Incline may have had an impact on the wider world opening up mountainous regions to exploitation.

Four fell-system locomotives were purchased from Manning & Wardle for use on the Cantagallo Railway in Brazil. This was Brazil’s first mountain railway linking Niterói to Nova Friburgo and allowed coffee to be shipped down from the mountains and out to the coast for export.

Back in the North York Moors, late in 1908 the railway line from Grosmont to the foot of the incline was re-opened for an Autocar service which ran in the summer months until the outbreak of the war in 1914. The North East Railway’s Autocars used early experimental petrol engines that generated electricity, and so are predecessors of the diesel and electric trains which took over the railways through the 20th century. The excursion/day trips by Autocar to Beck Hole saw tourists and visitors making use of industrial remains within the declining industrial landscape at the time.

Part of the Beck Hole Incline today – now the Historic Rail Trail. Copyright NYMNPA.

The site of the former railway station at Beck Hole at the base of the Incline – shown by the stone edge. Copyright NYMNPA. The Beck Hole Incline is now the route of the Historic Rail Trail footpath between Goathland and Grosmont. Walking down the incline today it is hard to imagine how it worked and what it looked like in its hey-day. It is perhaps even harder to imagine how this now tranquil part of the North York Moors is associated with changes in railway technology and how Beck Hole can be connected to Brazil.

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This Exploited Land – past, present and future

Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Heritage Officer

We’ve had excellent news from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) – we’ve got the funding for This Exploited Land (TEL).

TEL landscape - copyright Louise Cooke, NYMNPA

This Exploited Land: the trailblazing story of ironstone and railways in the North York Moors Landscape Partnership Scheme aims to understand, protect and enhance the landscape and its legacy of ironstone exploitation.

We will tell the story of ironstone mining and the associated railways in the North York Moors during the hundred years between 1830 and 1930. It is an exciting and little known story of discovery and industrialisation in a landscape which what is now designated as a National Park. For most visitors, and even for some residents, the extent of the ironstone industry in the 19th century is a surprise. The scale, the extent and the influence it came to have on the development of the North East of England as a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution at the height of the Victorian Period is poorly understood and the story has never been properly told.

Warren Moor Mine Chimney - copyright Louise Cooke, NYMNPA

TEL will conserve, protect, record and present a range of important industrial archaeological sites within a distinctive landscape. It will strengthen natural habitats within that landscape: restoring ancient woodland, managing hay meadows and enhancing riparian corridors; and assist rare and threatened species such as ring ouzels and water voles.

Top of Ingleby Incline - copyright Louise Cooke, NYMNPAThe Scheme contains a range of projects under different themes:

  • Historic Environment;
  • Natural Environment;
  • Interpretation, Access and Engagement;

as well as cross-cutting elements which include community grants, a volunteer programme, training and education. The breadth of the Programme hopefully provides something for everybody and is structured in such a way that over the next 5 years and beyond we hope more people can get involved and share our passion for the landscape and the stories that lie at its heart.

Sil Howe Minehead - copyright Louise Cooke, NYMNPA

Which of the 46 individual projects to be delivered over the next 5 years am I currently most excited about?

After the very long period of project development, it is the very first one – the works to repair the landslip at Rosedale East and to unblock the railway culvert at Reeking Gill.

These are essential works to (1) enable access along the Rosedale Railway to be maintained (and in subsequent years of the project allow access for conservation works) and (2) to ensure the survival of the manmade embankments along the route of the Rosedale Railway – and to retain this important feature of the landscape intact.

Exploring the TEL landscape - copyright Louise Cooke, NYMNPA

Thanks very much to everyone involved so far who have got us to where we are today.

Stay posted – this Blog is going to be an important means of sharing stories and pictures as TEL picks up steam.

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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.

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Ghosts in the Landscape

Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Heritage Officer

Operating from 1861-1929 the Ingleby Incline section of the Rosedale Railway is a significant landmark in the TEL landscape. The incline connected the edge of the upland with Battersby Junction below, and the line onwards to Teesside and County Durham.

At this point the railway line rose up to 417.5m from a lower elevation of 183m over a distance of just 214m. The gradient of the incline itself averaged 1:5.5 and was 1:5 in places. It was a self-acting incline allowing ore laden wagons to be lowered down from the upland top whilst pulling back up empty wagons from the Battersby lowland level. The operation of the incline was not without risk, including the danger of runaway trucks – and a number of fatalities were recorded during its time in operation.

After the abandonment of the railway in 1929 the remaining features at Incline Top were later destroyed by the Royal Engineers in World War II to prevent their use as a navigation aid for aircraft, potentially guiding the way to industrial Teesside. However a large amount of very substantial stone work, brick work, timbers and metalwork survive on the surface, or buried just below the surface.

The whole site has been damaged by weather and erosion – resulting in fracturing of brickwork, erosion of mortars, deterioration of timbers and stone. The fragmentary nature of the site and the damage and the subsequent removal of brickwork and stonework makes this site particularly fragile and the archaeological features are particularly difficult to read as so little remains in situ. But our understanding of the site is greatly enriched by surviving engineers’ plans and historic photographs – by T W Brotton (photographs c. 1890-1910) who worked at the Weigh House at Ingleby Incline Foot, and photographs by Tom Page, William Hayes and Raymond Hayes.

Structures at Incline Top:

  • Brake Drum House. Stone, timber and slate roofed structure. Constructed 1859-61, this original structure (which was the northern-end) housed 14ft diameter drums, this was damaged by fire in 1869 and repair carried out with replacement 18ft diameter drums. The drums wound the cables lowering and raising the laden and empty trucks. The structure is no longer in situ. The very large blocks of stonework have been pushed to the eastern side of the track bed.
  • Brake House 1 (eastern). This was constructed 1859-61, and served to control the speed of wagons on the incline when the 14ft diameter drums were in use. This was left as a ‘spare’ after the 1869 fire. This structure survives only slightly with some brick walling on the western side (where it is more protected from the raised ground). The surviving brickwork is now extremely fractured.
  • Brake House 2 (western). This was constructed in 1870 and served to control the speed of wagons on the incline when the 18ft diameter drums were in use. Little of this structure survives in situ – with just a few courses of the eastern wall. However there are very substantial quantities of timbers, and fractured brick work that has fallen down the slope to the west. The surviving brickwork is extremely fractured but has distinctive stamps of ‘Hartley … Castleford’.
  • Keps. These inclined planes with stone revetment walling were part of the incline control mechanism to prevent run-away trucks. They survive as low earthen ‘mounds’ with some of the revetment walling still in situ – but this is truncated and now fragmented where stonework has been robbed and/or fallen. Much of the mortar has washed out so the surviving stonework has enlarged joints that will be more susceptible to damage.
  • Cottage 1. A brick and slate roofed semi-detached cottage, some historic photographs show the garden plots having high-wooden fencing. This is now very fragmentary with little evidence on the ground but it did stand as more substantial walls until the 1960s/1970s.
  • Cottage 2. A brick and slate roofed semi-detached cottage with a single-storey ‘office’. Much less now survives of Cottage 2 and examination of the aerial photographs shows that this was already substantially taken down prior to Cottage 1.
  • Track. There were 5 tracks at the top of the incline, converging into two tracks for the incline itself, with diversion routes sited near to the top to manage ‘run-away’ trucks. In situ timbers are exposed at the break of slope but these are damaged by pedestrian and vehicle access resulting in further surface erosion and exposure of the timbers.

Last May, during the TEL development stage, a brief survey was undertaken at the incline site lead by members of the Kirby, Great Broughton and Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group. On site, we discussed and interpreted the extant features, measured the extant stonework, and created a photographic record. Subsequently the Group have analysed historic aerial photographs showing changes to the site over time, carried out archive research and assessed the condition of the remaining features.

Should HLF funding be forthcoming, the plan is to undertake further survey and documentation at the incline site, and at other sites across the TEL area. These smaller sites may not look as majestic now as remains such as the Rosedale Calcining Kilns, but each are an important gearwheel in the story of the ironstone industry and its communities.

As part of the investigative work back in May as series of evocative images were generated by John Davies of the Kirby, Great Broughton and Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group – see below. John explains how the images came about –

I have always been fascinated by old photographs and, since it was formed nearly 10 years ago, I have been acting as photo-archivist for Kirby, Great Broughton and Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group. One of our first projects was to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Rosedale Ironstone Railway, and in the course of the production of a heritage trail and a web site (www.rosedalerailway.org.uk), I had access to a number of old photographs of this awe-inspiring enterprise.

Last year, as part of the TEL project, I joined a group of fellow History Group members and NYM officers to survey the old industrial remains at the top of the Ingleby Incline. I took with me copies of old photographs and endeavoured to take new images from as near as possible to the old viewpoints. My initial plan was to produce “Now and Then” pairings of the new and the old but while processing the new ones, I came up with the idea of merging the century old photographs with their modern equivalents. With the help of the photo-editing software “Photoshop”, I managed to produce ghostly images appearing to loom out of the current landscape. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and for me these images evoke feelings that we are sharing the landscape with all those who have walked within it in the past.

Ghosts in the landscape - copyright John Davies of the Kirby, Great Broughton and Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group

Ingleby Incline ‘in operation’ – Cottages, Brake Houses, Brake Drum House.

Ghosts in the landscape - copyright John Davies of the Kirby, Great Broughton and Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group

Ingleby Incline ‘in operation’ – Cottages, Brake Houses, Brake Drum House, and 2 small boys in the forefront.

Ghosts in the landscape - copyright John Davies of the Kirby, Great Broughton and Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group

Ingleby Incline ‘in operation’ – empty trucks being pulled up the track by the cable.

Ghosts in the landscape - copyright John Davies of the Kirby, Great Broughton and Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group

Ingleby Incline ‘in operation’ + operator – looking down the tracks.

 

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Cliff edge archaeology

Chris Scott – Solstice Heritage, formerly of Archaeological Research Services Ltd and  Mags Waughman – NPA Monument Management Scheme Officer. From ‘An Industry on the Edge: the Alum Industry of the North York Moors coast’

Alum production was one of England’s earliest large-scale chemical industries and the North York Moors and Cleveland Hills was the main production area for the first 200 years of the industry, which took off in England when political and religious rivalries in Europe led to a market for home produced alum. Many of the surviving remains of the industry are of national importance and the National Park has eight alum production centres which have been designated as Scheduled Monuments because of this.

The alum industry operated in North Yorkshire from c.1604 until 1871. It was a major component of the wool/cloth trade because the chemical produced acted as a fixing agent for colour dyes. The alum refining process began with the quarrying of shale bedrock which was heaped with fuel into large mounds, or calcining clamps, and then burned for a long period (up to 8 or 9 months). The burnt shale was then steeped in water in a series of pits to release aluminium sulphate into a solution known as alum liquor, which was siphoned between the pits and settling cisterns to concentrate and clarify it. The liquor eventually ended up in the ‘Alum House’ where it was boiled over coal fires to concentrate it further and then an alkaline sulphate was added (human urine or seaweed) to create the required product – alum crystals.

Many of the production sites in the North York Moors were on the coast where alum shale was exposed in the cliffs and could therefore be easily extracted. The sea also allowed for good access to the imported ingredients of urine/seaweed and coal, and for transporting away the end product. However, the soft sediment coastline of the east coast of Britain is vulnerable to erosion and now as a result, these coastal alum sites continue to be worn away and will be inevitably lost over the next 100 years. Six of the scheduled alum production sites in the North York Moors are in such vulnerable locations on the edge of the coast. Since 2009, we have been working with Historic England to improve the condition of Scheduled Monuments at risk in the National Park through our Monument Management Scheme but in the case of these scheduled coastal alum sites, long term conservation is difficult because we cannot remove the threat.

As an alternative to protecting the coastal alum working sites from inevitable erosion, we have been working to preserve the information they hold through archaeological investigation and recording. This may allow us to answer some of the significant questions which still remain about the regional alum industry, the development of the industrial processes and about each of the individual sites. So back in 2014 the National Park Authority commissioned Archaeological Research Services Ltd to carry out initial assessments to establish the current knowledge and condition of each site and to develop mitigation strategies for the most significant remains; using excavation, aerial photography and Lidar transcription, drawn and photographic recording and walkover survey. In all, four sites were investigated, with the aim of researching outstanding questions and where possible, to facilitate the lowering of the ‘Risk’ status attached to the monuments.

Investigation work was particularly difficult and dangerous because of the locations of the sites – on the precarious and eroding cliff edges. Specialist safety, rescue and access contractors Spartan Rescue Ltd were brought in to create site-specific risk assessments, method statements, access plans and emergency rescue procedures. Each member of the excavation team had to be strapped into a restraint harness for most of the time on site. Happily, investigation of all four sites was completed without mishap and the team was able to put together a full report, the highlights of which are summarised below.

Walkover survey at Sandsend - copyright ARS Ltd.

Walkover survey at Sandsend – copyright ARS Ltd.

Boulby Alum Quarries and Works – this is one of the best examples nationally of a technically advanced 19th century alum-quarrying complex.

The archaeological works at Boulby comprised the excavation of three trenches across a putative pump house, two liquor cisterns and an associated potential building platform, and followed on from previous excavations in the 1960s/70s. The cisterns were well preserved – these circular masonry structures were built within a cut into the shale bedrock, presumably to create the correct finished height to allow alum liquor to be run into them by gravity alone, and sealed with a fine yellow clay as waterproofing. The cisterns had eventually been abandoned, most probably intentionally backfilled, and a later trough for the movement of liquor had been cut through the most easterly tank. Excavation of the easterly cistern showed that the floor and wall had been affected by subsidence at some point, and so one possible reason for its partial demolition may have been that the structure no longer held liquid effectively. The soft geology regularly seems to have been a problem for the alum industry, with oft-reported landslides and subsidence impacting on, and partly caused by, the quarrying operations.

The building platform lay close to the cisterns and was shown to have been created by the mass dumping of quarry waste into a previously quarried area, filling it to a depth of at least a metre, and probably much more. This serves to illustrate both the changing landscape of the ‘New Boulby Works’ during its operational life-span and the limited space within which the quarry functioned. The building on top of the platform had a stone slab floor, made from the local sandstone that had to be removed to access the shale, and timber walls supported on horizontal beams in slots. Evidence for a pantile roof gave a good idea of the overall character of this small industrial building. The other building investigated, presumed to have been a ‘pump house’, proved to be a much grander and well-made structure, with finely built masonry walls and a fantastically preserved flagstone floor. Finely tooled sockets in the walls and chamfered sockets within the floor suggested that machinery had once been fitted into this building. However no conclusive evidence of the building’s function was uncovered.

Saltwick Nab Alum Quarry

Two trenches were excavated at Saltwick and produced archaeological evidence that supplemented the previous survey data compiled by York Archaeological Trust detailing the location of cisterns, warehouses, burnt heaps and tanks on the quarry floor. Work focused on the excavation of an existing erosion scar at the seaward lip of the quarry. Previous visits had noted in-situ eroding deposits, which were investigated in order to try and understand the nature of the deposits being lost to the sea. The trench exposed huge deposits of quarry waste, spent burnt shale and piles of clay and silt which had been dumped by barrow. These overlay surfaces of hard trampled shale and waste: the working floors of the quarry on which were preserved flat wooden-plank barrow boards used to make barrow routes for the movement of materials within the quarry. These boards, worn through by use, spoke of the colossal human effort needed to shift such vast tonnages of stone by hand. Also within the trench, cut into the quarry floor, was a drain heading towards the sea, presumably for draining away the waste from the steeping process.

The evidence at Saltwick showed that, although much of what is being lost appears at first glance to be just dumps of quarrying and processing waste of limited archaeological potential, this material can often bury and preserve the fine detail and artefacts of everyday life in an alum quarry, and it is this which is being slowly washed away and lost to the sea.

The archaeological work at Saltwick included the production of a detailed photographic and drawn record of the foreshore slipway/ramp feature (used for sea transportation), in order to mitigate the uncontrollable and imminent loss of this feature through the ongoing erosion.

Kettleness Alum Works

The Kettleness site had previously benefited from detailed earthwork survey and documentary research carried out by English Heritage (now Historic England), so the new project aimed to examine specific areas of interest identified by this earlier work. The excavation trenches were targeted across a putative calcining place and putative calcining clamp.

A prominent mound at the landward side of the quarry, had previously been interpreted as a spoil heap or, possibly, a rare survival of an in-situ calcining clamp. The excavations demonstrated that it was indeed a calcining clamp, but rather than for processing alum shale it was an equally rare survival of an unburnt clamp for the calcining of ironstone. The North York Moors and then the Cleveland Hills and Middlesbrough, saw large-scale growth of the ironstone industry during the middle and later part of the 19th century. This site may have represented a diversification of production during the later 19th century, moving into the product in most demand (see This Exploited Land Landscape Partnership).

Kettleness is one of the better understood sites and the targeted excavations have answered specific research questions in relation to the site, as well as demonstrating significant evidence of the likely re-use of this alum site for the extraction and refinement of ironstone. The information gleaned from the excavation, together with the detailed earthwork survey, can now be better used as a model from which to interpret earthwork evidence at other sites, particularly potential “clamp” or “spoil heap” features.

Sandsend Alum Quarries and Works

At Sandsend, a complex of three successive alum quarries (Gaytress Quarry, Ness End Quarry and Deep Grove Quarry) extend for nearly a kilometre along the coastal margin. The investigations carried out comprised LiDAR and aerial photographic transcription, followed by a detailed walkover survey to examine remains on the ground. This initial survey work was necessary because there had been much less previous investigation at Sandsend compared to other sites so it was required first to establish a comprehensive baseline of evidence.

The survey at Sandsend identified features relating to the quarrying of sandstone, alum shale and possibly cement stone, as well as barrow-ways, route-ways, spoil heaps, evidence of water management, banks of steeping pits and liquor channels covering the entire scheduled area, and in places extending beyond it. This work has added significantly to the understanding of the breadth of remains within the quarries, as well as the position of the remains in relation to the coastal edge, and therefore the relative risk of erosion. These can now be much more successfully compared and contrasted with other well understood or surveyed sites, such as Kettleness, allowing the production of more targeted research across this group of important sites.

Now that the project has finished, we have a good base of evidence which we will use to inform and support both future management and targeted works to mitigate the inevitable loss of these monuments. We will continue to address the issues facing these sites and look for opportunities to investigate and record the remains under threat in order to achieve ‘preservation by record’ where they cannot be physically saved. The coastal alum sites contain the remains of one of England’s earliest large-scale chemical industries and illustrate the important place the North York Moors had in this industry.

If you want to have a look yourself at a coastal alum working site – the National Trust owned Peak Alum Works at Ravenscar is open to the public and is safe to access without emergency rescue procedures.

Last year’s top 5 posts … and what happens next with TEL

View from Sil Howe Mine - copyright NYMNPA

1. Hangover cure

The work at Sil Howe was carried out. Samples are being collected by the University of Hull in order to measure the impacts of the created reed bed on the iron sediment suspended in the water discharge from the abandoned mine. The University and the Environment Agency are planning to carry out a similar project this winter at Clitherbecks, above Danby.

Miss Bell - Keystone View Company - from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/27/world/middleeast/gertrude-bell-sought-to-stabilize-iraq-after-world-war-i.html2. Iron Lady

Ionic Temple, Duncombe Park - copyright NYMNPA

3. A Classical Restoration

In October an opening ceremony was held to mark the completion of the restoration project of the Ionic Temple at Duncombe Park (Grade 1 Registered Parks and Gardens). The National Park received a commendation from Historic England’s Angel Awards in recognition of the work that went into the fundraising and the quality of the repairs. The companion Tuscan Temple at Duncombe Park is to be restored through a Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme.

2015 expedition down one of the Ryedale Windy Pits - copyright NYMNPA

4. Down below

The Ryedale Windypits (Antofts, Ashberry, Bucklands and Slip Gill) are considered to be nationally significant because of their geological interest (mass movement caves), their ecological interest (swarming sites/hibernation roosts for bats), and their archaeological interest (Bronze Age/Iron Age remains) – The Ryedale Windypits Conservation Statement and Management Plan 2006.

LiDAR - Beck Hole Ironworks - a number of industrial structures are served by sidings from the railway line. Bluesky/NYMNPA.5. Falling leaves divulge our industrial past

Top Posts 1, 2 and 5 are all related to the This Exploited Land (TEL) Landscape Partnership application. The development stage was completed at the end of October.

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What we did in the TEL development stage

Landscape Conservation Action Plan

All Landscape Partnership Schemes need an Action Plan – this details the scheme, its significance (Part 1) and the 52 prioritised projects (Parts 2 & 3) that will be made possible by HLF funding.

Cultural Heritage

We carried out archaeological and engineering surveys of the key heritage sites within the TEL scheme area. We needed to know what was there, what condition it was in and how soon it was going to fall down, and what we could do to conserve the structures in their current condition. When this was completed we prioritised what was ‘essential’, and then talked to landowners, Historic England and Natural England in order to secure permissions to carry out the works should funding be achieved.

Warren Moor Ironstone Mine Chimney, Kildale - copyright NYMNPA

Heritage at risk - Rosedale - copyright NYMNPARosedale East Mines and Railway Trackbed - copyright Paddy ChambersWe also commissioned a LiDAR survey to better understand the landscape character and industrial archaeology along the Murk Esk Valley from Goathland to Grosmont (see Top Post 5).

Natural Heritage

We carried out surveys across the TEL area to identify the most important natural environment issues and the most critical sites – the living, breathing, growing aspects of the landscape e.g. woodlands, watercourses (see Top Post 1), hay meadows, water voles, ring ouzels, wild daffodils, that are ‘at risk’ and need a helping hand to survive and flourish.

Farmland in the TEL area - copyright NYMNPA

Natural heritage at risk - Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site - copyright NYMNPA

Natural heritage at risk - Ring Ouzel - copyright John KnightWe worked with a range of landowners and others to develop initial plans that will start to deliver those helping hands, to conserve and create bigger, better and more connected sites across the TEL landscape which will benefit the wildlife species.

Access, Interpretation and Engagement

We carried out surveys of current visitors and non-visitors to the TEL area to identify why people visit, why they don’t, and to find out about the interest in industrial heritage and its landscape legacy.

Ingleby Incline Volunteer Survey 2015 - copyright NYMNPA

We used these surveys to develop an interpretation strategy which encompasses a range of different audiences and we plan to tell the story of This Exploited Land in lots of different ways. The strategy includes the creation of interpretation hubs, the setting up of a community grants scheme, the establishment of an ambitious volunteer programme and the roll out of an education programme. We hope this will ensure positive outcomes and opportunities for people to engage with their landscape and its heritage.

Revising the boundary

The scheme area has to reflect a landscape that tells the story of ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ industry and the ways in which humans have intervened and changed the landscape through time. The rationale of the TEL area is the ‘story-telling’ role of the landscape (from east to west) – the story of early railway and ironstone exploitation that emerged in the key century of industry on the North York Moors c. 1830s-1920s.

We reviewed the boundary in the development stage and made some amendments to reflect the underlying geology and the existing Landscape Character better.

Finalised TEL area outlined in red - copyright NYMNPA

The TEL landscape sits within the North York Moors and shares many of its special qualities including “great diversity of landscapes” and “sudden contrasts associated with this”. For example – upland and valley, nature and industry. The TEL landscape presents a distinct identity based upon the sense of discovery that these now apparently ‘natural’ places were sites of extraordinary industrial expansion, and just as rapid industrial retraction. The ‘feeling’ of remoteness and quietness experienced now on the moorland is confronted by the knowledge that a working railway ran high across Farndale and Baysdale Moors connecting beyond the Cleveland Hills to County Durham, and that the moorland edges of Rosedale reverberated with the sounds of iron production.

Ingleby Incline and views towards Teeesside - copyright NYMNPA

Ghosts in the landscape: Ingleby Incline - copyright John Davies (Kirby, Great Broughton & Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group)

Geoff Taylor from the Kirby, Great Broughton & Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group and member of the TEL Executive Group sums up the TEL area as “connected by history, separated by geography”. This has become one of the mantras during the project development. The connections between Rosedale, Grosmont, and Kildale are not always obvious given the complex topography and modern transport networks, but these communities are connected by their shared history of iron exploration and railways. There are also important connections from the TEL area out to Teesside, Middlesbrough and Redcar, which became the focus for the iron industries of the North-East (see Top Post 2), and beyond across the world.

What now…

We are now waiting on a funding decision from the Heritage Lottery Fund and hope (IF all goes to plan) we will be able to start on delivering the exciting projects that make up the 5 year programme in late spring 2016.

Grosmont - copyright Chris Ceaser