Roseberry Ironstone Mine

The ironstone reserves under Roseberry were identified in 1851 in a survey following the discovery of the ore under the Eston hills the previous year. The company however had the adjoining Hutton royalty and planned to approach Roseberry from there. But by 1871 Roseberry hadn’t been reached and the landowner was complaining of loss of income. A drift at Roseberry was eventually opened only to operate fully for two years in the 1880s. It was abandoned in 1887.

In 1906 Roseberry Mine was reopened by the Tees Furnace Company employing 200 men and operated until 1921. There were a few subsequent attempts at restarting but an auction in 1931 of the surface machinery and buildings put paid to any more.

So a roofless building and a few concrete bases are all that’s left of the Roseberry Ironstone Mine. But what was the purpose of the building? That is the question I have put to scout groups I have taken up there.

A few clues:

  • it is unusual in that it was substantially built of sandstone whereas other surface building were of wood and corrugated iron;
  • it had no windows;
  • although hard to pick out on the photo there is an earth bund around the building;
  • it is isolated, sited about 150 yards away from the drift entrance and other buildings (located behind the bushes and trees in the distance.

With a bit of prompting the kids eventually work it out. The building was the powder magazine, where the “black powder” was stored. It was the powder monkey’s domain where he issued the rice sized granules of compressed gunpowder to the miners. Or should I say sold, because money was docked from the miner’s wages to cover the cost of the powder. Any left over at the end of the day would be taken home and stored in front of the fire to keep dry!

I should point out, the remains are on private farmland. The farmer has given me the OK to take the photo.


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