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The Discovery of Ironstone at Skinningrove

Ironstone had been collected from the beach at Saltburn for many years before any stone was mined in the Cleveland District. Mr Samuel Frederick Okey gives a record of the accidental meeting with Mr Anthony Lax Maynard at Skinningrove.

I had occasion to go to Saltburn to pay the wages for gathering ironstone on the beach, which was shipped into small craft brought there at high water and loaded as the tide receded from heaps gathered, and sent to the Tyne.

1847 Gathering Stone and Loading

Henry Campbell7 days at 2 shillings and sixpence17s 6d

Stephen Foster7 days at 2 shillings and sixpence17s 6d

James Wood7 days at 2 shillings and sixpence17s 6d

Robert Wood5 days at 2 shillings and sixpence12s 6d

George Brack5 days at 2 shillings and sixpence12s 6d

William Harrison 4 days at 2 shillings and sixpence10s 0d

Horse Hire

William Farndale 4 days at 7 shillings£1 8shillings 0d

William Farndale1 day at 5 shillings5 shillings

Ladgate Farm Brotton

Bryan Wood3 days at 10 shillings£1 10 shillings

Bryan Wood2 days at 3shillings & sixpence7 shillings

Saltburn Mill

Amount £7 17s 6d

10th November

Shipped in The Rose for the Tyne40 tons

Left on beach 54 tons

I returned to Saltburn a few days later and examined the beach round the corner to Skinningrove.

During my examination a gentleman unknown to me at the time (Mr A L Maynard) came up to me and asked what I was looking for. I informed him I had some men employed gathering ironstone off the beach and that I was looking for some more, as I had cleared it all from Saltburn. He then mentioned to me he had something very like it on his property and had I any objections to go and look at it. I at once proceeded with him through the village, and asked if he could procure a pick. He returned directly to his stable and brought one over his shoulder. We stepped across a small beck and there I saw some five or six feet of rock, from which I cut a sample from top to bottom. This is the place the first stone was worked from and was the guide for all other openings and winnings.

Mr Maynard ask if I thought it was ironstone, I told him it was but could not tell him as to the quality.All I could do then was calcine a piece in the fire and test it with a magnet. After having done so I gave Mr Maynard my opinion, I said the stone was valuable, but there was no outlet for it but the beach. There were no prospects of railway going in that district in those days. Mr Maynard asked if I would take it from him. I told him my engagements would not permit me to do so, but a friend who was with me would, which Mr Maynard at once agreed to. He then asked what rent he should have, and I said sixpence per ton but he must give a written authority to my friend. He then wrote out the following agreement for working ironstone.

I hearby give Mr James Burlingson permission to work the ironstone on my property at Skinningrove, and for the ironstone he obtains to pay me sixpence per ton

(Signed) Anthony Maynard

Skinningrove

23rd September 1847

(Witness) Samuel F Okey

After leaving Mr Maynard I returned to Middlesbrough to catch the train home to Witton le Wear, and thought I would call on Messrs Bolckow & Vaughan to exhibit my sample. Finding the offices closed I called upon Mr J Vaughan at his private residence which at that day was at the end of Durham Street. Upon letting him see my sample and the magnetic test, he enquired if there was much of the ironstone. I replied there was a stratified belt, how thick I could not say but I had sampled it between five and six feet. He was surprised and thought it could not be possible, and asked me to send a few hundred tons. I explained the difficulty as the winter season was coming on. I also told him that Mr Burlingson would arrange with him, but he then replied that he could not do any business with that gentleman owing to a dispute they had had, but he would take any quantity sent in my name. This put a stop to the working until the spring as Mr Vaughan was not willing to pay for stocking it out. In the early part of 1848 I frequantly pressed Burlingson to make a move in the affair but he seemed quite careless, and on knowing the Messrs Rosebys were at the time out of employment, I mentioned the place to them, and contrived a meeting between them and Burlingson at Witton le Wear, their place of residence. I then proposed to Burlingson that if he did not intend to work the mine he should sell it to the Messrs Roseby, which he at once agreed to. Upon asking what he would take for his agreement, he replied ’ A glass of brandy and water’ I said I thought as there were two of them they might say two glasses, and so was the first grant for workingthe great Cleveland ironstone mines, sold for two glasses of brandy and water. After this transfer Messrs Roseby and self went down to Skinningrove. I pointed out the belt to them and introduced them to Mr Maynard who accepted his offer. They shortly after agreed with Messrs Bolckow and Vaughan and worked the stone for some time.

Now this is the real introduction of the Cleveland ironstone, and these are facts that cannot be denied.

Samuel Frederick Okey

43 Bridge Street West,

Middlesbrough

May 30th 1884

The article was taken from The Northern Echo, Saturday May 31st

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