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Speaker Colin Hart: ‘Skinningrove Social History and Development due to Ironstone Mining and Iron Production’.

Colin was born in Skinningrove and lived there for the first 33 years of his life. He took early retirement from British Steel and joined the Skiiningrove Mining Museum in 2010 as a volunteer guide. It was only then that he discovered the archive which recorded that he was the fifth generation of his family to work in the iron and steel industry.

Colin showed a Tythe Map in 1846 which had very few buildings. The estate occupied 188 acres and had 10 cottages. The Old Hall was one of the early buildings and was a stopping point for monks travelling from Whitby to Guisborough Priory. The Manor House was built in the early 17th century and known as Timms Coffee House. It is now the post office.

Anthony Maynard, the owner of the estate, knew of ironstone boulders on the beach, but discovered an outcrop on his land in 1847. Mining started, but the original lessee, James Burlinson achieved very little. In the following year, he sold his rights to the Roseby brothers who opened the mine on 7th August 1848. The following year it changed hands again when John Vaughan took over. However, he then discovered the deposit at Eston. This was 16 feet thick compared with 9 at Skinningrove and this led to a further change of lessee.

The population of the village grew rapidly with the censuses in 1841 showing populations of 63, 1851 of 115 including 30 iron miners, 1871 of 336 and in 1881 of 1561. In 1864 the Pease family took over the North Drift dig. This 265m long brick lined tunnel was opened in 1865. This was the year in which the railway was extended to Whitby. This hugely improved the means of getting the ironstone to its customers. The construction of the South Drift, a 460m long tunnel, also brick lined, was completed in 1871. In 1872, the Loftus Iron Co took over the Maynard Ironworks. Also in 1872, the North Yorkshire Miners and Quarrymens Association was formed.  This grew rapidly to having 33 Lodges and secured an increase in wages after a strike and arbitration in London.

Pease constructed 103 cottages in 1872. Each had an allotment and the rent was 3s 6d per week. There followed the construction of a Wesleyan Capel in 1872 and a hospital with a Matron and 3 Nurses. Miners paid a contribution from their wages which entitled them to free medical care. In 1873, Pease built 68 more houses and a junior school for 300 children. Also in that year, the sea wall was built. More houses and 2 blast furnaces were built in 1874 followed by a gas works in 1875. This allowed Skinningrove to be the second village in the area after Skelton to be lit by gas.

The Peases were keen for the miners to better themselves and in 1876, they built the Miners Institute and set up the Horticultural and Athletic Society of Carlin Howe and Skinningrove. In that year, 562,000 tons of iron ore were produced at Skinningrove. The market was cyclical and in 1878, the Loftus Iron Company was bankrupt. However, progress continued and by 1891, a jetty was completed enabling pig iron to be shipped. A depression followed but, in 1910, 2 more blast furnaces were constructed.

The works prospered in the first half of the 20th century and in the early 1930s, 100 feet long rails were rolled, the longest in Europe at the time.  In 1950, a new blast furnace was built, which worked until 1974. Mining continued until 1958. The village had successful football and quoits teams, a Miners Silver Band and the Skinningrove and Eskdale Male Voice Choir.

Demolition of all but 9 of the original 103 houses and construction of new housing in the 1980s ripped the heart out of the old village. Today, it is recovering with holiday cottages being bought up, log cabins being built and a static caravan site established. The jetty has been refurbished and the beach is still one of the most beautiful in the North East