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Main engine house and associated structures, Skelton Park disused iron mine

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.5539 / 54°33'13"N

Longitude: -1.0051 / 1°0'18"W

OS Eastings: 464447

OS Northings: 518079

OS Grid: NZ644180

Mapcode National: GBR PHFS.6B

Mapcode Global: WHF87.JSMT

Entry Name: Main engine house and associated structures, Skelton Park disused iron mine

Listing Date: 7 September 1987

Last Amended: 29 September 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1115824

English Heritage Legacy ID: 351263

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

Engine house for pumping and winding the downcast shaft at Skelton Park iron mine dated 1872. Also included in the designation are a number of associated structures such as the downcast shaft, the remains of the boiler plant supplying the engines (boiler house, boiler pump house and chimney), a pair of gin circles used to wind the shaft for maintenance purposes, and a explosives store.

Description

Main winding house, downcast shaft, explosives store and remains of the boiler and pump houses, chimney, and gin circles at Skelton Park Pit disused iron mine centred at NZ 64431809.

Engine house for winding and pumping, 1872, for Bell Brothers' Skelton Park iron mine.

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

PLAN: built into rising ground with the main floor being the first floor with the engine beds for the winding engine occupying the rear (eastern) half and the pumping engine to the northern side of the front half. The southern side of the front half of the building has a ground floor basement.

EXTERIOR: the operational front of the building, facing the shaft, has a full width opening at first floor level beneath a steel lintel, above which there is a simple 1872 date stone. On the ground/basement floor the engine bed for the pumping engine projects forward on the left side, with a low doorway on the right - an entry for mine tubs, still retaining its rails. The southern side of the building is of seven bays. On the upper floor the fifth bay is a wide doorway, the rest being windowed. On the lower floor there is a door and three windows, the rear of the building being built into rising ground. The northern long wall is similarly well lit at first floor level. On the ground floor towards the east, there is a tall, round arched opening for the flywheel to the pumping engine. The roof structure has largely collapsed but was formally hipped, with slate to the front hip and red tiles on the other three faces.

INTERIOR: nearly three quarters of the interior is taken up with the concrete engine beds for the two horizontal steam engines. The shape of the beds and the arrangement of holding-down bolts and other features provides evidence of the original arrangement of the engines.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS
Downcast shaft: lies nearly 10m in front of the engine house. It remains open but is surrounded by a high brick wall built circa 1938 after the mine closure. It is 14 feet in diameter (4.27m) and 384 feet (117m) deep. The shaft was designed for two cages and pumping equipment and could also be wound from the Secondary Winding Engine House to the south west (see separate List Entry). Terraced into the hillside to the north are two horse gin circles which were used for maintenance in the shaft.

Boiler plant: this lies on the southern side of the Main Engine House. Immediately south west of the engine house are the low earthwork remains of the boiler house. The plinth of the boiler chimney is on higher ground immediately to the south east. On the south west side there are the ruined remains of the brick-built boiler pump house (built 1906 for a steam powered boiler-feed pump and a separate fire pump), the roof and the southern wall with its large cast iron arched windows having collapsed.

Explosives store: this lies just over 70m to the NNE of the engine house. It is a small, two-celled building with parallel gabled roofs, with a smaller lean-to to the side, all set within a small quarry which formed blast walls partially built of firebrick blocks of triangular section (of a design normally used to support tubular boilers such as the Lancashire boilers installed at the mine in 1906). The building is brick with a Welsh slate roof.

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 main engine house is the principal building of Skelton Park Pit. It is of unusual design, incorporating both winding and pumping engines in a single building. The inclusion of the pumping engine within the building resulted in the engine house being extended forwards towards the downcast shaft to accommodate the pumping engine and equipment. This entailed an unusual design of head frame, with backstays bearing horizontally onto the roof structure rather than being angled to the ground.

Reasons for Listing

* Survival: despite being ruinous, the engine house and its directly associated structures included in this single designation, form a remarkably complete pit head arrangement that is a rare survival of mid-Victorian mining practice as used at both iron stone mines and collieries;
* 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;
* 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;
* Architecture: the engine house is of unusual design incorporating both pumping and winding engines in a single building. It also has a degree of architectural elaboration unusual for an industrial building.

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