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Workshops at Skelton Park disused iron mine

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.5532 / 54°33'11"N

Longitude: -1.0056 / 1°0'20"W

OS Eastings: 464415

OS Northings: 518004

OS Grid: NZ644180

Mapcode National: GBR PHFS.3L

Mapcode Global: WHF87.JTCB

Entry Name: Workshops at Skelton Park disused iron mine

Listing Date: 7 September 1987

Last Amended: 29 September 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1320278

English Heritage Legacy ID: 351266

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

Workshop range of 1870-1873 for Bell Brothers' iron mines.

Description

Blacksmiths' and joiners' workshops, between 1870-1873 for Bell Brothers' Cleveland iron mines.

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

PLAN: linear range with a large blacksmiths' shop to the north east and a smaller joiners' to the south west, separated by a small engine room. To the rear of the joiners there is a brick extension used as a saw mill. At the northern end there is a small projecting brick lean-to added originally used for an electric blower for the hearths, and to the rear is a brick built cart shed.

DESCRIPTION: single storey, long range of 10 bays. The blacksmiths' is of five bays with a central cart entrance with a basket arch originally flanked by two pairs of window openings, although at the time of the inspection, the wall to the north of the cart entrance had collapsed, taking down two window openings. The blacksmiths' retains part of its roof structure, complete with a central, ridge-placed timber ventilator. The workshop has brick built ridge stacks and a further four stacks rising from the rear wall, each serving a smithing hearth.

The engine room is of a single bay with a basket-arched cart entrance. It is served by a ridge stack to the left. The roof structure has collapsed.

The joiners' is of four bays with a further basket-arched cart entrance to the centre flanked by three window openings. Roof structure collapsed.

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 workshop range was part of the original layout of the mine and is thought to have served not just Skelton Park, but also other Cleveland mines owned by Bell Brothers. The range included a large blacksmiths' shop with six smithing hearths, with a smaller joiners' shop to the south. Both workshops were supplied with power via a line shaft driven by a steam engine sited in the small room between the two workshops. This engine was replaced in circa 1910 with an electric motor.

Reasons for Listing

* Architecture: although a utilitarian workshop range, the detailing and design of the building has a degree of architectural interest, forming a good group with the adjacent Provender House;
* 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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