The History of the Cleveland Mines - Park Pit

Park Pit is one of the best preserved examples of an East Cleveland mining site. Set in a rolling valley the pit buildings are still visible for miles, buildings that have stood the test of time. The head gear has long since gone, as has the sound of industry, miners and the pit hooter which signalled the change of shift, all lost to time, but in its heyday Park Pit was employing 300 miners. Known locally as Skelton Park, the land was leased from the Wharton family in 1868 by the Bell Brothers, until closing in 1938. A spur line was added, cut from Slapewath, to supply the pit. Two shafts were sunk to a depth of 385 ft to a main seam which had a height of nearly 10ft and a smaller 2ft seam.
The pit today is quite recognisable - little has changed since its closure, the tracks from the spur line and shunting yard have gone, and most of the buildings have lost their roofs. At this time of year the grass and weeds are waist high.
To gain access to the pit you need permission from Skelton and Gilling Estate, as the site is on private land and all the buildings are dangerous to enter. Access was gained in its working days, and as today, from the A173 main Guisborough to Skelton road or from the ‘miners walk’ (Back Lane). A long straight track leads now, as it did then, from the main road up to the mine manager’s house, now a private residence (Park House). Just before the house the road forks to the right and past the up-shaft building, the brick shaft standing high.
This shaft and attached buildings forms part of a ‘cul-de-sac’ of structures, the secondary winding engine shed and boiler pump house, power house, ambulance room and time office. Some of the larger buildings were built in stone, others brick, and the one round the shaft was made of concrete, brick and stone, demonstrating the periods of its life and expansion as a mine, the concrete building on the up-shaft being the fan house.
In between the up-shaft and mine manager’s house are the remains of the down-shaft, again identified by its round brickwork and which would have had a wooden building on legs, similar to Longacres Pit, for the removal of the full wagons of ore which were brought up to the surface. This shaft had the most visible head gear on site, and it was situated just in front of the largest building, a two-storey sandstone structure. The winding gear was on the ground floor, and the winding gear mounting block is still visible. There is no evidence of a shale tip.
Along the back of the site are two stone buildings, one longer than the other, again with brick extensions and a platform in front. The first is the blacksmith’s and joiner’s shop complete with saw mill, the second building being the saddler’s shop. Following the old railway line to where it merged into one line, you will find the remains of the explosive store / magazine, one of two - the other was on the hill behind but has since fallen down. In between the two are the remains of the reservoir which provided water for the steam engines. A third magazine can be found behind the mine managers house which is now known as Park House - it was also the location of the mine offices and stables.

( Many thanks to Skelton and Gilling Estate for permission to visit the Park Pit site and take photographs. )

Stuart Macmillan

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