A History of the East Cleveland Mines -
Lumpsey Pit, Brotton

by Stuart McMillan

Lumpsey Pit is now hardly recognisable, as most of it was demolished in the late 1960’s, and the shale tips were levelled to a certain extent. Some foundations remain to show where the buildings once bellowed smoke and noise throughout its working life. Since the building of the new by-pass, the pit has become more visible as the road passes close to the old buildings and under the old main line.

Lumpsey was the second ironstone mine at Brotton - the first was positioned near the railway station and only worked for a short time until the opening of Lumpsey, its shale tips now making a playground on Coach Road, the only indication of where this pit once stood.

Lumpsey Pit was built next to the main East Coast railway line from Middlesborough to Whitby, a line which now terminates at Boulby Potash Mine, now the only working mine in Cleveland and the deepest in Europe. Lumpsey was built on the west side of a hill and stood alone half a mile south of the village of Brotton, with a branch line running through to Kilton Mine. An old railway signal still stands in its original position, its signal paddle pointing down. The two shafts were sunk in the late 1880’s to a depth of 75 feet and branched out to a tunnel which boasted a height of 8’ 6”, the first ore being extracted in 1881 - some 500-plus tons.

In its first period of ownership, from 1881-1923, the franchise was operated by Bell Brothers, passing in 1923 to Dorman Long and Co. During World War 1, a six-inch gun was kept at Lumpsey. Set on a railway carriage and standing at a height of 25 feet, it was wheeled out by horse to a special three-finger spur line near Hunt Cliff as a defence against Zeppelin attack. The spur line was demolished in the late 1950’s.

Lumpsey was a large pit compared to others in the area, being built of stone and brick with the same general layout of the Cleveland iron ore pits. At one time some 70-plus horses worked on the site, but with the advent of more modern machinery the horse became redundant, with the ore trucks being conveyed on a continuous rope.

The mine was connected to Carlin How, with its ore being extracted through Lumpsey, at the turn of the century and from that time on, the two pits worked together as one, extracting the ore and working round pillars left to support the roof. The closing of Lumpsey in 1954 brought the end of iron ore mining in Brotton, though the pit was connected to North Skelton, acting as an air vent to that mine.

To access the site today, start at Brotton and follow the footpath down below the Hospital and pass between the allotments and over the new bypass by the footbridge. Follow the track adjacent to the railway line and then you cannot miss the pit ruins. The two shafts are about the first thing you come to - a large concrete platform with two plaques on them and two vents through which can be heard the sound of running water.

Just in front of the old shafts is a tower of concrete with a tunnel for trucks to pass through. It was a support for the ore tipping shed and now stands alone next to the main line. Looking around there are various foundations - some can be distinguished as buildings, others cannot. At the end of the site is what remains of the shale tip, smoothed out by demolition and, over time, by bikers. The old branch line to Kiltonthorpe makes a nice walk but is apt to be muddy at times.

Stuart McMillan


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