Friday, December 29, 2006

Rust-red rivers and iron ore

Saltburn photographer, Bob Mitchell, has captured the glory and decline of Cleveland's industrial heritage in a series of dramatic photographs. Scouring the East Cleveland hillsides for abandoned ironstone mines the 26 year old photographer found the crumbling remains of some of the 83 mines - including Brotton's Lumpsey Mine - which between them produced 360 tons of iron ore in their lifetime. Bob, who grew up in Brotton, said his work stood as a tribute to the men who toiled to dig iron ore by hand from the Cleveland Hills, from the mid nineteenth century until the last mine closed at North Skelton in 1964.
Little now remains of the industry other than a few buildings and the rust-red rivers which hint at the story behind the ironstone mines which once powered the nation's industrial might.
Bob's 'Iron and Steel' exhibition will be on show in Preston Hall Museum until January 27th

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cliff path re-opens

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council has completed work to reopen the footpath which links Saltburn's Marine Parade to the lower promenade. The £30,000 scheme, undertaken by the Council's highways partner, Alfred McAlpine, has included replacing damaged steps, repairing the handrails and permanently closing off obsolete parts of the footpath. After violent storms in 2000 landslips forced the closure of the two footpaths from Marine Parade to the lower promenade, opposite Emerald Street and Pearl Street, to the general public. The Council commissioned geotechnical advice that recommended the footpath opposite Emerald Street could be re-opened following remedial works, but the footpath opposite Pearl Street should be permanently closed due to the continued danger from landslips. Work on the footpath opposite Emerald Street started in October and was completed last month, removing the landslip material from the existing steps, re-grading the slopes and removing the overgrown vegetation from the steps. Now more repairs on the steps have been carried out to allow the footpath to reopen. The Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism Councillor Dave Fitzpatrick said:"Now I'm sure the restoration of the path will be appreciated by everyone and is also bound to be a real asset in the summer, adding another access route from Marine Parade to the prom."
Controversy over the Pearl Street access will continue as many residents believe that the landslip problems can be overcome in much the same way as they have been in nearby Whitby if the Council was prepared to recognise the need for continued support in developing the sea front as a major asset for the town rather than allow the years of neglect to continue.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Have your say...

The next round of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council's Area Environment Committees, part of the Council’s bid to make the Borough ‘cleaner, greener and safer’, include a Public Open Forum, an hour-long session set aside for question time, specific topics of discussion, and the submission of petitions and ideas for future decisions.

Written questions can be posted to the Council’s Community Development Manager Julian Feakes at Fairway House, Limerick Road, Dormanstown TS10 5JU or by e-mail to

Dates and venues, all with 6pm starts:
  • Redcar: Wednesday, January 10 at Redcar Education Development Centre, Corporation Road.
  • ONE (Ormesby, Normanby, Eston): Tuesday, January 16 at George Sickling Community Centre, Allendale Road, Ormesby.
  • East Cleveland (Marske, New Marske, Saltburn, Skelton): Wednesday, January 17 at Gleneagles Community Centre, New Marske.
  • GaTeS (Grangetown, Teesville, South Bank): Monday, January 22 at Grangetown Neighbourhood Centre.
  • Guisborough (including Charltons, Margrove Park, Boosbeck): Tuesday, January 23 at Stump Cross Community Centre.
  • Kilton (Loftus, Lockwood, Brotton): Wednesday, January 24 at Moordale Court Community Centre, Lingdale.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Have a go, sport

play the didgeridooDidgeridoo enthusiasts are inviting people wanting to learn more about the instrument to get involved in Saltburn Didge Club.The club, which has been running for three years, has around 30 members, ranging from teenagers to people in their mid-50s, but they have now launched a membership push.Christmas celebrations have also been planned by the group, with a party at 7.30pm on Friday, December 15, at Saltburn Community Hall.Musician Kevin Serginson, who is also a primary school teacher, said: "We teach people to play the instrument, give advice on buying didgeridoos and also have performances.The group meets on the third Friday of each month at Saltburn Community Hall. For details call 01287 205021, email or visit

Monday, December 11, 2006

Party Time at the new Children's Centre

Saltburn's new Children's Centre will be officially opened on Thursday, December 14 - the centre is already a success with families in the community. The afternoon celebrations will feature music from Huntcliff School woodwind band, Saltburn Primary School choir and a Christmas party in the centre, with Santa in his grotto, a disco, magician and storyteller.
The Centre, built on the Huntcliff site, began welcoming families in June and hosts a 45 place daycare setting, training room and adjacent children's room as well a three health clinics and two small meeting rooms. It offers family fun sessions, training courses and counselling services in an accessible one-stop shop for family services. The nursery for under-5s is run by Rosedene Nurseries, the Tees Valley’s longest-established pre-school care and learning provider. Staff include nursery nurses, health visitors, school nurses, a children’s physiotherapist, a podiatrist, Sure Start community workers and administration staff.Centre manager Linda Bulmer said: "The number of families registered with us from Saltburn alone is 154. We have nearly 600 altogether, which includes families from Guisborough, Skelton, Lingdale and Boosbeck. We wanted to make the official launch something really special. We knew a Christmas Party theme would be just what our children and families wanted and, after all, that is what Sure Start is all about."

Local radio personality Stewart McFarlane MBE and two-year-old Charriss Savory shared the ribbon-cutting duties with Santa at the offical opening of the Children's Centre.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saltburn lad space bound

A robotics expert from the North-East is about to realise the dream of a lifetime. Dr Nicholas Patrick, born in Saltburn, will become only the fourth Briton to go into outer space when he blasts off in the space shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Space Centre, in Florida, next week. His mission is to rewire the electrical systems of the International Space Station.
The 42-year-old explained how the flight will be the realisation of a dream that was born as he watched the Apollo 11 moon landing on television as a child in Saltburn. Although there were many other things which caught his imagination as he was growing up - an archaeologist, a boat designer - Apollo 11 left a lasting impression and the one thing that really stuck with him throughout his childhood was the idea of becoming an astronaut.
Dr Patrick, who became a US citizen in 1994, was cleared for launch next week, as Nasa gave final approval for its most complex shuttle mission in years. The astronaut and his six crew mates are spending the days before the launch in quarantine to avoid illness.
His wife, Rossana, a doctor, and their children will be at the Cape Canaveral space centre to watch the launch, with Dr Patrick's parents, Stewart and Gillian who, like their son, now live in the US.
Dr Patrick was designing jet engines and cockpits in the United States, before being recruited by NASA. He started training as an astronaut in 1998. "The real key is to find the things you love and pursue those, and your interests will carry you," is his advice to any aspiring spacemen or women.

March of the Pigeons

Saltburn has for some time seen a great increase in the pigeon population and a number of areas including the town centre, Methodist Church and various private dwellings have suffered from the invasion and the scourge of droppings from the roosting birds. Several businesses in the town square are now taking action and are requesting people put their complaints into writing. The notice has been placed in the window of the tourist information office, located in the station precinct, and one of several businesses affected by the plethora of pigeon droppings splattered around the station portico. Mrs Judy Bullock, who runs the centre, has put up the notice following a number of complaints. She also commented that a lady had recently slipped on the mess, and although not hurt was very shaken. The notice, after apologising for the mess, points out that the land is privately owned and does not come under council control. It then asks customers to write a letter of complaint which will be sent to the relevant people and hopefully result in some action being taken.
The Methodist Church in Milton Street has also suffered for a number of years with pigeon droppings littering the steps to the main entrance which have to be cleaned daily to remove the mess. Complaints have also been made by individuals from a number of private residences along the 'Jewel Streets' but so far nothing seems to have been done.

The pest team is now investigating a number of complaints from shop staff, members of the public and residents and is said to be carrying out a planned programme of works to control pigeons at a number of locations across the borough where a problem has been highlighted. A spokesman said the council was trying to contact the owners of Saltburn's portico area, a London company, to bring the matter to their attention so that action can be taken.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Behind the names

War memorials are a familiar sight in the landscape of the UK . According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a memorial, is “a sign of remembrance; preserving or intended to preserve the memory of a person or thing”. One can also say that it acts as an object “reuniting those who were separated by a conflict”. They also provide insight into not only the changing face of commemoration but also military, social and art history.

In 1919 Saltburn was a small town of about 3,000 people. Life was beginning to return to normal following the end of the 1914-18 war. Sixty-three local men had been killed in the conflict, and like many small towns across the country, Saltburn was struggling to raise the funds to pay for a suitable memorial in recognition of the sacrifice these men had made.
Lieutenant Wilfred Evelyn Littleboy, aged 21, killed in action at Ypres (now Ieper) on Tuesday 9th October 1917 was the youngest son of Charles William and Agnes Evelyn Littleboy, who lived at Woodlands, Victoria Road, Saltburn. Mr and Mrs Littleboy offered to commission and pay for a suitable memorial and present it to the town.
Sir WIlliam Reynolds-Stephens of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, was approached by the War Memorial committee to design the memorial and he visited the town to select the most suitable site specific position for the memorial. His design is one of a broad-armed cross with a short shaft of grey granite standing on top of a slightly tapering pedestal and base, also of granite. The relief sculpture on the cross depicts two angels praying at the head and foot of a recumbent Jesus Christ. Two relief laurel wreaths decorate each side of the pedestal. The wording on top of the Memorial is 'Sacrifice'. At the base we read ' We have no glory great enough for you.'
The unveiling and dedication of the memorial took place on 14th November 1920 by Major-General Sir Percy Wilkinson KCMG, CB. Archdeacon Lindsay repeated the Dedicatory Prayers and the Reverand A Antrobus led the congregational singing of 'Abide With Me'.
This Grade II listed structure stands today in its selected position on Camp Bank surrounded by a beautiful, well maintained garden. It bears the names of 63 soldiers who died in the first conflict and 20 names from the Second World War.

Walking past the cenotaph one morning in 2003 prompted Mr Ian Bedford into stopping and reading the names. Wondering about their lives and where in the town they had lived and worked he decided to research the names and find some answers to his questions. The result of this research is now available in a book which he has just published. Copies are available from Mr Bedford who can be contacted on 01287 623246 or by email

Countryside celebrations

Redcar and Cleveland Council's three countryside visitor centres are celebrating their best-ever visitor numbers – over 100,000 this year.Attendances were boosted by a host of special woodland events run by countryside rangers and volunteers at Guisborough Forest and Walkway, Flatts Lane Woodland Country Park and Saltburn Valley Woodlands Centre. These events attracted the public, schools and groups to a wide variety of events from recycling craft sessions to Hallowe'en parties.

The Saltburn Valley Woodlands Centre (01287) 622408 has thrived this summer and autumn, highlighted by 'The Pageant of Light'celebration, which attracted over 1,000 visitors. The 80-hectare site is just a five minute walk from Saltburn beach, making it an ideal and popular location to discover the countryside from spying woodland mini-beasts to rock-pooling on the beach. This year, Saltburn Valley was granted a Green Flag Award, the national standard for parks and green spaces, a first for the Council. The Valley boasts the spectacular Italian Gardens as well as informal parkland, ancient woodland, meadow and grass land and the Centre tells the story of the valley through various interpretations. The Centre holds a year round programme of events, including every Tuesday in school holidays family fun days for all ages from crafts to trails.Countryside Ranger, Neil Thirkell, joined the countryside team in 1995 and has been at Saltburn Valley for six years, offering expert insight to the woods and its inhabitants. Neil says he is still getting to know the Valley and its wildlife and what the public want from the site.