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Secondary winding engine 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: 54.5538 / 54°33'13"N

Longitude: -1.0055 / 1°0'19"W

OS Eastings: 464417

OS Northings: 518074

OS Grid: NZ644180

Mapcode National: GBR PHFS.3C

Mapcode Global: WHF87.JSDV

Entry Name: Secondary winding engine house at Skelton Park disused iron mine

Listing Date: 7 September 1987

Last Amended: 29 September 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1115825

English Heritage Legacy ID: 351264

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

Secondary winding engine house of circa 1870, originally for underground haulage via the downcast shaft, subsequently altered to wind the upcast shaft.

Description

Secondary engine house for winding, 1870, for Bell Brother's Skelton Park iron mine. Modified circa 1910 to wind the upcast shaft.

MATERIALS: good quality rockfaced sandstone ashlar with margined dressings; Welsh slate roof. Fragmentary remains of timber sash windows and other joinery.

PLAN/LAYOUT: single celled, single storey building with the winding drum position on the western side of the building, being equidistant between the up and downcast shafts lying centred about 20m to the south west and north east respectively.

DESCRIPTION: the western side is of three bays, symmetrical with a central door flanked by windows. The northern side, facing the downcast shaft, has openings for winding ropes just off centre to the right, the upper opening being via a dormer in the hipped roof. To the left there are two windows, the far left originally being a doorway. The southern side facing the upcast shaft has a single window and a single, large, blocked rope-hole, inserted circa 1910. The eastern side has a single doorway and window. The interior is mainly taken up by a single large engine bed forming the floor.

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 small engine house is thought to have been used for a steam powered Jack engine powering an endless-rope underground haulage system, with the rope running via the downcast shaft to haul mine tubs along the main haulage plane underground to the shaft bottom. Underground haulage was converted to electricity in circa 1910 and the building was reconfigured to wind the upcast shaft to meet the requirements of the 1911 Coal Mines Act (which required shaft mines to have at least two man-riding shafts).

Reasons for Listing

* Survival: although ruinous, the engine house is a rare survival nationally of a mid-Victorian winding engine house, its special interest increased by the rare identification that it was originally built for underground haulage;
* Historical: Skelton Park was one of the main iron mines established by Bell Brothers, a leading firm in the Cleveland iron industry which saw Middlesbrough become the centre of the international iron market in the late C19. The identification that the engine house was adapted to meet the requirements of new legislation adds to its special interest;
* Group value: in addition there are five further listings which include the other buildings of Skelton Park Mine, together forming an exceptionally complete mine building complex, thought to be the best survival nationally for an iron mine.

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