Film ID: NEFA 12758 Video of NEFA 12758 The End of an Era (1966) THE END OF AN ERA 1966 Visitor TabsDescription A documentary film produced by Turners of Newcastle for Dorman Long & Co. Ltd of Middlesbrough to commemorate the last shift at the North Skelton iron ore mine in Cleveland. Footage includes scenes of the extraction of iron ore underground. Title: The End of an Era Title: A Tribute to the Men of the Cleveland Ironstone Industry Title: Produced for Dorman Long, Middlesbrough Title: By Turners Film Productions, Newcastle upon Tyne, England Credit: Production Brian Nicol Credit: Photography Bryan Copplestone Credit: Lighting Peter Brown, Mike Harvey Credit: Commentary Norman Shelley Credit: Script John Grant The film opens with views of the bay, beach and cliffs at Staithes from the south-east; an iron ore seam is visible in the rock face. A voiceover relates the historical background. Overhead views of the Cleveland and Eston Hills showing countryside and farm buildings. The voiceover confirms that this is where ironstone mining began in 1849 with the opening of the Bold Venture quarry to work the Cleveland ore seam. Portrait prints of founders John Vaughan and Henry Ferdinand Bolckow, and artist impressions of early mines illustrate these beginnings. General view showing smoking chimneys in the foreground, with the pithead winding shaft at the North Skelton Ironstone Mine in the background. General views of the mine and pithead. Miners cross a railway track to arrive at the mine for their last shift, the mine closing on 17 January 1964. A street sign for Bolckow Street and a view up the street of terraced houses in early morning sunlight. Miners collect their helmets and safety lamps in the lamp room. The wheel of the winding shaft turns. Six hundred feet down two miners drill blast holes in the rock in preparation for placing explosives. A third man inserts explosives into the rock using a long wooden stick and sets up detonator wiring for blasting. As he detonates the explosion the film returns to a terraced street to show a white marble figure of a soldier of the North Skelton War Memorial in the foreground. An explosion is heard. Back underground, in the aftermath of the blast the deputy tests the stability of the mine walls and ceiling with his stick. A man operates a mechanical digger truck loading dislodged rock into tub containers on rail tracks. There are stills of traditional mining with pony underground, and a blacksmith’s workshop. A miner drives a long line of iron ore containers trucks along rail tracks to the lift. Miners load individual trucks into a lift which asend to the surface. Workers unload the trucks transferring them to the revolving rotary tippler that empties ore into waiting railway wagons below. A miner pushes the railway wagon along the track away from the rotary tipper. A diesel engine pulls away with freight wagons carrying iron ore. An overhead view of the train moving away from the mine with a panoramic view of North Skelton. The film ends with general views of a stream running out of an old mine working wirh remnants of iron ore in the water and views underground of an empty mine. End Title: The End of an Era (over landscape view of North Skelton from the closed mine looking towards Middlesbrough.) End Title: The End Context On 17th January 1964, the last in a long line of iron miners, who had worked the Eston and Cleveland Hills since the Great Iron Rush of the 1850s, arrived for work on the final shift at North Skelton Ironstone Mine. This closure marked the end of an era for a Teesside industry that, at one time, boasted more than 80 pits, and fed Middlesbrough’s expansion from a coal-exporting community of fewer than 5,000 to an iron and steelmaking boom town that built the Sydney Harbour Bridge and most of the world’s railway track. Cleveland’s ‘rusty gold’ rush began with the discovery in June 1850 of a rich ironstone seam in the Eston Hills by John Vaughan and his mining geologist colleague, John Marley. On August 13th 1850 Vaughan and his business partner, Henry Bolckow (a German-born entrepreneur and financier) , started mining at ‘Bold Venture’, their first trial quarry at Eston. Once iron was being mined in Eston, Bolckow and Vaughan were quick to erect furnaces at a rolling mill and foundry on Vulcan Street in Middlesbrough, thereby no longer relying on the furnace at Whitton Park. ‘These furnaces consumed as much ironstone as the mines [at] Eston could produce’. The new Eston Ironworks opened in 1853. It was the Eston and Cleveland Main Seam that was to fire up the industry, and by 1868 one hundred blast furnaces lined the River Tees between Stockton and Redcar, blotting out the sun with their smoke. In 1864 Bolckow, Vaughan and Company Ltd. was registered with capital of £2,500,000, making it the largest company ever formed at the time. Within 18 years, Middlesbrough thrived as the greatest iron producing capital of the world, many of the names of its pioneer ironmasters immortalised in the town’s street names still. This documentary was produced by Turners Film Productions of Newcastle for Dorman Long & Co. Ltd of Middlesbrough to commemorate the closure of the deepest, and last, mine in Cleveland. In 1929, during the great recession, Bolckow Vaughan disappeared in a merger with Dorman Long, one of the big three Teesside iron and steel producers. The ironstone mines which initially provided the raw materials for nearby iron and steel works are, too, no longer easy to visualise, though the communities left behind certainly are: ‘Most of the communities which served the ironstone mines still survive, the terraced houses of the ironstone miners easily recognisable. The mines which were the focus of these settlements, however, are now far less obvious.’ References: Cleveland ironstone Mines: Then and Now, David Currie, Stephen Sherlock (1996) p. 6. Industrial Teesside Lives and Legacies, Jonathan Warren (London, 2018).