About the Museum

The Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum was founded in 1983 by a group of volunteers acutely aware that the remains of the ironstone mining industry, which had once formed the basis of Cleveland’s growth & prosperity, were rapidly being lost, forgotten or destroyed and who set out to celebrate the heritage of that industry by the preservation, conservation and display of artifacts, photographs and documents relating to it.

Museum DisplayThe original basis of the Museum was the collection of mining relics accumulated by local journalist Tom Leonard, but this has been supplemented & added to over the years as facilities have been improved and the site expanded, culminating in a large scale refurbishment during the winter of 2008/09 which saw the addition of an improved shop and reception area, a small cinema and a fully equipped first floor learning and meeting room (the Tom Leonard Gallery). The Gallery is available for hire for meetings, lectures and classes – please contact the Museum if you would like further details or to make a booking.


Sydney Harbour BridgeThe history of ironstone mining in Skinningrove as depicted by the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum is of local, regional, national and arguably even international importance – the Sydney Harbour Bridge was fabricated on Teesside from steel produced at Skinningrove and every arch has the word Skinningrove stamped on it.



MinersThe discovery of the Main Seam of Cleveland Ironstone at Skinningrove in 1847 was the key that unlocked the industrial potential of Teesside. Over the next 20 years men flocked to Cleveland from the four corners of the United Kingdom, as one after another a further 80 mines opened – coalminers from Durham, Northumberland & Scotland, tin miners from Cornwall and farm labourers from Norfolk joined forces to make Cleveland the most important ironstone mining district in Victorian & Edwardian England responsible for one third of UK iron output.

Villages that previously had numbered their populations in handfuls counted them in thousands. Middlesbrough itself, described by William Gladstone himself as an “infant Hercules”, expanded from 7600 inhabitants in 1851 to almost 40,000 in 1871 and over 90,000 in 1901 as a direct consequence of the expansion of the iron & steel industry.

001Many visitors come to the Museum seeking information about family members who may once have worked here or in one of the other local mines, and we do our best to help, although in most cases information is limited, unless the individual concerned had the misfortune to have an accident.


About the Museum — 6 Comments

  1. please could you help me with a bit of information i am looking for detail on Thomas the last known survivor from the mines i have been told he is named in the museum i am doing a family tree and was only giving his first name any help will be greatly helpful kind regards Tracy Davies.

  2. Hi Tracy

    I’m afraid we need a surname if we’re going to carry out any research. Do you know which mine he worked in and approximately when? The Museum is on the site of Loftus Mine, but that only closed in 1958 so there are many men still alive today who worked there.

    Ian Wilson
    Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum

  3. Thanks Tracy. I’ve passed it on to our family history volunteer. As soon as we have any information I’ll be in touch.

    Ian Wilson
    Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum

  4. My friend and I visited the Museum in early September, whilst on the Cleveland Way walk. We were so pleased we did. We thoroughly enjoyed the over two hour tour with the volunteers, and came away with a good understanding of ironstone mining and its importance to Cleveland. A few days earlier the fierce storm had torn out the bridge at Skinningrove, but the Museum itself was not damaged, thank goodness. We also experienced the kindness of strangers. I inadvertently left my binoculars in the Museum, and as we were hiking on to Staithes, and the Museum was closed on Sundays, we couldn’t retrieve them. But with the help of Sheila at the post office, the binos were retrieved and mailed on to us. Very much appreciated, and ensuring that Skinningrove has a special place in our Canadian hearts. Thanks. Cynthia Crampton, Vancouver, BC, Canada

  5. Hi Cynthia

    Many thanks for your comments. I’m pleased that you enjoyed your visit and that we were able to return your binoculars to you.

    Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum

Leave a Reply