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Provender House at Skelton Park disused iron mine

A Grade II Listed Building in Skelton and Brotton, Redcar and Cleveland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.5529 / 54°33'10"N

Longitude: -1.0059 / 1°0'21"W

OS Eastings: 464391

OS Northings: 517975

OS Grid: NZ643179

Mapcode National: GBR PHFS.0P

Mapcode Global: WHF87.JT6J

Entry Name: Provender House at Skelton Park disused iron mine

Listing Date: 7 September 1987

Last Amended: 29 September 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1115786

English Heritage Legacy ID: 351265

Location: Skelton and Brotton, Redcar and Cleveland, TS12

County: Redcar and Cleveland

Civil Parish: Skelton and Brotton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Skelton with Upleatham All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York

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Summary

Store and preparation building for horse feed for pit ponies used for underground haulage, circa 1870 for Bell Brothers' iron mines.

Description

Store and preparation building for horse feed, circa 1872 for Bell Brothers' Cleveland iron mines.

MATERIALS: good quality rockfaced sandstone ashlar with margined dressings to front; roughly coursed rubble elsewhere; brick extensions.

DESCRIPTION: gabled of two storeys and three bays, former Welsh slate roof no longer extant at time of inspection, although the coping to the gables partially survives. The front (north western) elevation has a basket arched cart entrance to the northern bay and a single doorway between the windows of the two southern bays. The first floor is symmetrical with a taking-in door to the centre, flanked by windows. The windows retain remains of sash window joinery. The southern gable has joist holes for the upper floor of a former timber extension now removed, with a open doorway to the upper floor. To the side and rear there are the remains of brick built extensions, the former a saddler's workshop, the latter being a plant room for an electric motor. The interior of the building is an open shell.

History

Shaft sinking at Skelton Park Pit started in 1870, and marked the northernmost entry to the Skelton ironstone mines developed from 1862 by three brothers (Isaac Lowthian, Thomas and John Bell) to supply their ironworks at Port Clarence on the north bank of the River Tees. The mineral rights and land was leased from Mr Wharton of Skelton Castle. Park Pit worked the Cleveland Main Seam of iron stone which here was some 3.1m thick, over 115m below the surface, with an iron content of about 32%, being about the highest concentration of iron found within Cleveland ironstone. Southwards, this seam became closer to the surface where it was worked by Bell Brothers via the associated Skelton Shaft and Spa Mines (the latter mine sold in 1872). The Cleveland Main Seam, first exploited at Eston by Bolckow and Vaughan from the 1850s, prompted the rapid development of the Teeside iron industry, making Middlesbrough the centre of the world's iron market in the late C19. The Bell Brothers company was a leading player in the Cleveland iron industry, with Park Pit being their most significant mine.

Sinking the two shafts at Park Pit was completed in 1872 at a cost of £50,602, the mine producing 176,238 tons of ironstone in 1873. In 1876, mechanical drilling using compressed air was introduced at the mine, using Walker mechanical drills patented in 1875. In 1881 these drills and the automated underground haulage system (also utilising compressed air) was exhibited to the North of England Mining Institute. The following year a steam driven Schiele fan was installed at the top of the upcast shaft and costings were obtained to install underground electric lighting (although it is not known if this lighting was installed at this very early date). In 1899 Bell Brothers became a public company with controlling interest passing to Dorman Long (which became the principal iron mining company in Cleveland in the C20). 1906 saw the modernisation of the steam boiler plant with the replacement of the original four Elephant or French boilers with a pair of Lancashire boilers. In 1909-10, Park Pit was connected to the public electricity supply allowing the replacement of compressed air drills and other machinery with electrically powered equipment, although winding and pumping in the drawing, downcast shaft continued to be steam powered. A detailed catalogue of equipment at Park Pit survives for 1929, by which time production was declining. Park Pit finally closed in 1938 having produced 18,555,000 tons of ironstone.

In 1987 the five principal buildings at Skelton Park Pit were Listed at grade II. In 1995, Skelton Park Pit was included in a national survey of iron mining sites for English Heritage's Monuments Protection Programme. It was described as being "by far the best iron mining site nationally".

The provender house was one of the original buildings of the mine, designed for the storage and preparation of feed for the pit ponies used underground at all of Bell Brothers' mines in Cleveland. The northern brick extension was added as a saddler's workshop around 1900, the extension to the rear housed an electrical motor to power oat and corn crushers and a hay chopper.

Reasons for Listing

* Technology: the Provender House is a good illustration that despite the use of underground powered equipment and other technology at Skelton Park, that pit ponies were still a valuable resource both here and at other Bell Brothers' mines;
* Architecture: although a utilitarian building, the detailing and design of the Provender House has a degree of architectural interest, forming a good group with the adjacent workshop range;
* Historical association: Bell Brothers was a leading firm in the Cleveland iron industry which saw Middlesbrough become the centre of the international iron market in the late C19;
* Group value: in addition there are five further listings which include the other buildings of Skelton Park Mine, together forming an exceptionally complete mine complex, thought to be the best survival nationally for an iron mine.

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