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.

TEL logo band 2_FINAL_exc DRF





Telling the TEL story

Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Heritage Officer

A personal book review of ‘The Moor’

I have an immense soft spot for travel writing and nature writing, with my book shelves over piled with more discursive and anecdotal tales of places and things. I find these more informal and less academic accounts really helpful in piecing together what it is about a place or a landscape that makes it special. In the UK Richard Mabey, Robert Macfarlane the late Roger Deakin are all part of a long-line of storytelling about natural places and natural things that stretch back to the eighteenth century and Gilbert White in Selborne, Hampshire. Robert Macfarlane is perhaps responsible for the very recent “explosion” of new nature writing (or writing more broadly about places) that has tried to capture everything from geology to local traditions and everything in between. The products of that explosion in nature writing is quite mixed: some is fantastic, and some doesn’t quite hit the mark. The idea has even been hotly debated – extract from The Guardian 18.7.13.

Front cover from www.faber.co.ukThe Moor – Lives Landscape Literature’ by William Atkins (published 2014) fits within this outburst of ‘nature writing’. The book is an ambitious attempt to tell the story of some of the upland areas in England. Atkins looks at the different areas* and presents on the lives and literature that are associated with them, whilst also reflecting more personally on his own visits and the people he meets.

* Bodmin Moor, Exmoor, Dartmoor, Saddleworth Moor, the Calder Valley, the Haworth Moors, Alston Moor, Otterburn and our own North York Moors. 

Atkin’s chapter on the North York Moors highlights the work of Canon Atkinson (Forty years in a Moorland Parish published 1891) and Frank Elgee (Early Man in North-East Yorkshire published 1930). He also discusses the presence and impact of RAF Fylingdales. More than anything he reflects on the practices, tensions and benefits associated with management of the moors for grouse shooting which have such a large effect on the landscape.

I think that there are some obvious “could have done with an edit” moments; perhaps featuring fewer areas would have helped Atkins do more with ‘The Moor’, especially as at times the balance between detail (e.g. the colour of his bath water) and more sweeping issues (e.g. the impacts of tourism on fragile upland areas) is a little perplexing. But overall ‘The Moor’ is an easy way to get into some of the less well known upland areas of England (like the North York Moors) and I would recommend it.


One of the tasks I am undertaking at the moment in the development stage of This Exploited Land (HLF Landscape Partnership) is writing a Statement of Significance to articulate what it is about the programme area that makes it distinctive. It was partly to get a popular understanding of the landscape (or at least understanding its ‘aesthetic values’) that encouraged me to pick up ‘The Moor’ earlier in the year. I suppose I wish William Atkins had talked to us about the very intimate connections between geology, and past and present uses of the land that are so integral to our This Exploited Land story. These connections are shown not just on the moor tops but in the bottom of the interjecting dales too – for instance at Beck Hole where the former mineral workings are virtually ‘lost’ within the woodland there.

Lovely spider web in Beck Hole woodland (forgotten part of the NYM upland)

Our This Exploited Land (TEL) story is very much about challenging the artificial divide between ‘natural’ and ‘cultural’ heritage. The landscape today is the result of past exploitation, and active current management (or ‘curation’). Perhaps in a few years times when our story of pioneering early railways and ironstone mining is better known (thanks to the efforts of our TEL programme), a follow up to ‘The Moor’ might focus on the This Exploited Land story as an elemental part of what makes the North York Moors distinctive as an example of a human-made and human-maintained landscape.

Beck Hole Woodlands - NYMNPA

View across Rosedale from moorland edge - NYMNPARosedale farmland - NYMNPA


Building bridges

Stephen Croft – TEL Programme Manager

I think of This Exploited Land (TEL) in terms of bridge building – both literally and metaphorically.

An original bridge on the 1836 Whitby to Pickering Railway

From here to Australia

If you stick with me for a minute, you can follow all the connections, step-by-step, to trace the origins of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia – one of the most instantly recognised iconic images in the world – back to the chance discovery of a commercial seam of ironstone in Grosmont in the early 1830s during the building of the Whitby to Pickering Railway.

The abundance of the ironstone found around Grosmont went to supply the needs of the Losh, Wilson and Bell Ironworks on Tyneside. Thomas Bell’s son, Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell, went on to be one of the most successful ironmasters in England and played a significant role in the development of Middlesbrough.

At the peak of iron and steel making in Middlesbrough in the 1870s the partnership between Arthur Dorman and Albert de Lande Long began the gradual takeover of iron and steelmaking companies, including Bell Brothers, to form Dorman Long. During the 1920s, Dorman Long branched out and developed into an engineering company and began to gain an expertise in bridge building.

In 1924, Dorman Long won the international tender to engineer and construct the Sydney Harbour Bridge. When it opened in 1932, the bridge was the widest (at 48.8m) single span bridge in the world, with a clear span of 504m.

bridge5Sydney Harbour Bridge formed a backdrop to the celebrations of the start of the new millennium with its fantastic firework display now repeated annually. The natural harbour was discovered by Captain James Cook who was born on the fringes of the North York Moors at Marton and grew up in Great Ayton; he had his first apprenticeship in Staithes on the North Yorkshire coast and learned his seamanship in Whitby. His most famous ship, Endeavour, was based on the traditional Whitby Collier. These colliers would later transport the newly discovered ironstone from Grosmont up to the Tyne. With yet another connection – Endeavour gave its name to one of the Space Shuttles – the local influence can be stretched even further.

Iron making

Ironstone is sedimentary rock containing iron sediment from which iron can be extracted. The early ironstone mining in the North York Moors gradually yielded to the cheaper and larger iron deposits found around Eston to the north and ultimately to even cheaper iron ore imported from around the world. The centre of gravity in iron making in the second half of the 19th century moved from Grosmont and Beck Hole to the quickly developing Middlesbrough on the banks of the River Tees as this new area became a world centre for iron, steel and heavy engineering. Prime Minister Gladstone called Middlesbrough an ‘Infant Hercules’ because of the apparent potential of the booming town.

In all, there was 100 years of mining in the North York Moors area and 130 years in the wider Cleveland area. The last ironstone mine (North Skelton) closed in 1964, so within living memory, so making a bridge is still possible between the new post-industrial generation and their industrial and industrious forebears. We need to value that bridge whilst the memories still survive. This is our history.

Railway remnants

The 1820s and 1830s were a time of huge innovation. Imagine the leap of faith it must have been for the ship owners in Whitby to bring George Stephenson to town to get him to build them one of those new railways. Huge cost, huge risk and no certainty of a financial reward. In the end those first investors lost money, but the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, continues to run today, almost entirely along its original route, making a tangible bridge back to the early 1830s. The first cargo for the new railway in the 1830s was local building stone, exported out of Whitby down the coast as far as London to build bridge abutments and harbour works, it being a stone that was resilient in seawater.

If you follow the current Rail Trail walk from Goathland to Grosmont, and I recommend you to do just that, take the opportunity to wander down one of the side paths near Beck Hole and look back across at the original railway embankments. Here you will see a number of beautiful stone bridges, built like Renaissance structures with fine stonework, rusticated plinths and skew arches. Works of art and craftsmanship but at the same time utility constructions to enable the railway to work. These hidden bridges link the pre-industrial Georgian age of neo-classical design and the new age of iron and steam and practical engineering.

Along the Rail Trail - stone work features Along the Rail Trail - stone work features Along the Rail Trail - stone work featuresAlong the Rail Trail - stone work features Along the Rail Trail - stone work features Along the Rail Trail - stone work featuresAlong the Rail Trail - stone work features Warren Moor Mine Chimney close up Along the Rail Trail - stone work features







This Exploited Land is more than just some interesting stone monuments in the
landscape – a mysterious set of redundant arches, contrasting with a green background: tranquil, quiet, almost forgotten. It is a bridge to the past, to lives lived and a pioneeringVictoria Falls Bridge - Rainbows and bridges by Shaun D Metcalfe is licenced under CC by 2.0 (from Flickr.com) spirit; it is a bridge reaching further back to a pre-industrial rural past. It bridges across the continents of the globe to Australia, to Istanbul (Bosphorus Bridge), to Southern Africa (Victoria Falls Bridge) and many other places where Teesside engineers have stretched the bounds of structural engineering. It forms a bridge from the now peaceful dales of the North York Moors to its noisier offspring, the conurbation of Teesside.

This Exploited Land is an exercise in bridge building!



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 …………….