CIE Heritage Walk
On 8 June 1850, ironstone was discovered in the Eston Hills. So 169 years later on Saturday 8 June 2019, the CIE had a Heritage Walk to celebrate the ISI 150th Anniversary, and the discovery that led to the rise of the steel industry in the Middlesbrough area. Our guide was Craig Hornby of Pancrack Films, renowned locally for his video on this subject “A Century in Stone”. We started off in Eston High St at the site of the old Hospital, built to treat the employees of Bolckow and Vaughan who worked in the mines and at the steelworks. We saw some remaining miners’ cottages in an area known as California, and remains of the stables where the mine horses were brought when they were sick. (They lived underground normally.) Our route then took us up the New Bank incline, the original one to the Old Bank Mine having taken a more direct route straight up the hill. We paused outside a large tunnel going into the side of the hill, which was a ventilation shaft, with another further along. Our path was along the embankment of a trackway that was used to haul the trucks of ironstone to the top of the incline. Further east had been the Challenor mine that linked up with the same deposit outcropping at Skinningrove. We saw the spot where Henry Bolckow and John Marley discovered the iron ore outcrop, alas now completely overgrown. The finale of the walk was the Guibal Fanhouse that extracted air from the mine, which is largely intact. We went inside to see where the huge 30ft diameter wooden fan would have sat to draw air out of the mine.
In the 1870’s when ironmaking was at its peak, Middlesbrough was known as “Ironopolis”, and there were over 100 blast furnaces in the area. Both William Gladstone and Prince Arthur of Connaught (grandson of Queen Victoria) visited Bolckow and Vaughan. By 1928 the Old Bank mine was worked out. The New Bank and Challenor mines carried on until 1949, when they were worked out too. Bolckow and Vaughan were taken over by Dorman and Long, who survived until nationalisation into the British Steel Corporation in 1967.
Photographs of the walk are attached below.