175 years ago, Bolckow & Vaughan were building the original Middlesbrough Ironworks. Today the Teesside iron and steel industry could well be at an end. The SSI plant is being mothballed with the loss of 1,700 direct jobs and a further 5-6,000 expected in contractors and the supply chain. In 2012, the mothballed plant came back from the dead when SSI stepped in. Could a new investor be found? It seems unlikely but the pilot light has not been blown out yet...
CONSIDER THE PALE BLUE DOT... A very small stage in a vast cosmic arena
A lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark
A mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam
The only world we know so far to harbour life
There is nowhere else in the near future we can escape to
It underscores the responsibility to deal more kindly with each other
and to preserve and cherish
the pale blue dot
the only home we've ever known.
28.2.15: NEWCASTLE UNITES AGAINST RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS 'PEGIDA' ! and I was proud to be there filming this fantastic show of humanity
in the face of neo-nazi hate.
2.3.15: ACTOR MICHAEL SHEEN MAKES INCREDIBLE SPEECH AT NHS RALLY -
A MUST SEE ! Cloughie would have loved it !
INFO & PICS
aka 'NIPPER' for a magazine article I am writing
to put the facts about this Eston legend on record
One hundred years ago today, my Great Great Uncle Henry Mates of South Bank & the Royal Navy Reserve celebrated the new year aboard HMS Formidable as it prepared to ferry hundreds of troops across to France. Within just a few hours, Formidable was hit by two torpedoes from a German U-Boat and sunk. My Great Great Uncle Henry and 546 others lost their lives. He was the first of three Mates brothers who lost their lives in WW1. My Great Grandfather, William was killed at Arras in 1917 and my Great Great Uncle James died in France a month before the end of the war in 1918...
In late May 2014, I was walking the dog
in Upleatham when a young Starling landed on me - totally fearless! I put it back in a bush and it kept coming back. With no other birds or people
anywhere to be seen, I took it home to Saltburn and fed it mealworms. The next day I took it down my allotment
and it fast flew off. A short while later it returned and did so until the end of September! He became quite a
celebrity down there landing on people's heads and getting fed. He even made the local papers where he was spotted by a lady from Upleatham who contacted me to tell me
she had raised him from a chick after he was found abandoned in Guisborough. So the mystery of where he came
from was solved but where did he go at the end of September? And will he return in the Spring? Regardless, it was a rare
treat to get so close to a wee wild creature and watch him (or her!) grow up. I documented it of course and the pics were such a hit on facebook I've put together a smart HQ glossy calendar! I've also done one of Meg my Border Collie which I do every year...
I've secured a major platform for my WW2 related film (currently in production) and related exhibition of photographs and artefacts. A premiere event will launch a three month run with looped daily screenings. Can't reveal more at this stage but will do in due course. Very excited about this :-)
DICK NEILSEN 1928 - 2014
My inspirational friend Dick Neilsen of Toronto has died
at the great age of 86. For almost 70 years, Dick was a film-maker, journalist and political activist...
24.10.14: FRIENDS OF ESTON HILLS
presented with a Coastal View Community Award click here
Eston Miners' Hikes 2014 DATES ANNOUNCED:
SAT 6th SEP &
SAT 20th SEP
FOR MORE INFO & BOOKINGSCLICK HERE NOW SOLD OUT If you are interested in future hikes please drop me a line and I will add you to the list
and when there are enough names I will let you know when I arrange another. email@example.com
4th Aug 2014: MY LATEST FILM (30 mins) Commissioned by The Friends of Redcar Cemetery.
After around 200 objections from local residents and schoolchildren, Teesside University have done the right thing and pulled their ill-conceived planning application to close a popular access route via their land to Eston hills. Their aim presumably was to stop joyriders which I support but it would have stopped everyone which simply wasn't fair. I think they should enter into dialogue with the council, The Friends of Eston hills and all affected landowners to come up with a robust and practical solution to the problem. Thanks to all those who submitted objections
and thanks to the Uni for seeing sense!
AUG 2014: Lost Art Found !
More of my late cousins artwork
has come to light...
4th June 2014: BBC TEES feature interview
Many Thanks to John Foster
May 2014: A Tribute to Wilf Shaw 1914-2008
I have written a tribute to the late Wilf Shaw for the North East Film Archive website.
Wilf was the filmmaker behind the 1930s film 'Cleveland' which came to light at the end of last year. IT IS A MUST SEE !
It features actual footage of Eston mines in operation and rare views across Cleveland.
You can read my tribute and watch the film here...
14th March 2014: TONY BENN RIP The greatest Prime Minister we never had. No state funeral needed.
He wasn't the selfish, vane n pompous type.
I had the good fortune to meet the man on two occasions. In 2005, I sent him a copy of 'A Century in Stone', as he was in it briefly (see above right) I got a fantastic reply (see below) and met him just a few days later at the Durham Miners' Gala. Then in 2009, he was doing a talk at Middlesbrough Town Hall and he was greeting punters outside with his flask of tea and pipe and sitting on his backpack-cum-folding seat which was his own invention he told me! (see below) I gave him a leaflet about my campaign film 'Coatham-A Common Concern' which had just been shown in The House of Commons a few weeks before.
Tony Benn outside Middlesbrough Town Hall, June 2009.
A great loss but what a legacy.
Will we ever see a politician as honest and humanitarian again?
ARCHIVE FILM REVELATION !
When I was making A Century in Stone I often wondered / dreamed about actual archive footage of Eston mines being out there somewhere. Apart from just a couple of shots that I did find, I was convinced there was no more...but 10 years on I have been proved fantastically wrong!
Presenting "Cleveland - It's Geography & Industrial Development", a 20 min B/W silent documentary made in 1937-38
by an amateur filmmaker from Middlesbrough called Wilf Shaw. It's like a 1930s version of A Century in Stone but with actual footage of Trustee, Pit Top, Low Drum and Tip Yard in action plus The Crusher and Cleveland works. It is astounding and undoubtedly one of the most important archive films of the area. It was sent to the North East Film Archive at Teesside University some months ago by Wilf Shaw's daughter in Cambridgeshire. Carefully digitised from a delicate 75 year old 16mm original, it is now available to view online. Mr. Shaw sadly passed away as recently as 2008 at the age of 93. I would have loved to have interviewed him on camera about how he made his film.I wonder if he got to see mine? I hope so...
ps - full page tribute to Wilf Shaw on NEFA website
24th Feb 2014: NORTH SKELTON
Our commemoration night marking the 50th anniversary of the last shift at Cleveland's last pit was a great success. The Bull's Head was packed ! Thanks to all who came. For those who couldn't get in - you can now watch the classic 1964 film about North Skelton online thanks to the North East Film Archive at Teesside University...
50 YEARS ON COMMEMORATING THE LAST SHIFT
CLEVELAND’S LAST IRONSTONE MINE: NORTH SKELTON
A Screening of the 1964 short film ‘THE END OF AN ERA’ plus speakers
Peter Appleton Skelton History Group
Tony Nicholson Local historian and former University Lecturer
Craig Hornby Maker of the film ‘A Century in Stone’
The Bull, North Skelton
Monday 24th February 2014 - 7pm
Jan 2014: The Straight Road Ahead I have a new short about a 93-year old WW2 veteran called Eddie Straight. His story is special and has never been told on camera before. In October, the rough cut got a great response at Saltburn Film Festival as did guest of honour Eddie. The final cut however will not be shown until 2015 to avoid clashing with this year's WW1 commemorations. Next year will also coincide with a WW2 anniversary that is key to Eddie's story. Hopefully this will help secure a grander platform to exhibit the film - it is too important to simply go straight to the internet.
And the wait will be worth it !
More Lost Art located !
More of my late cousin Don Playford's art work has come to light - this time on the Isle of Wight!
Many thanks to Bob Godden for sending excellent photos of seven originals by Don from the late 70s.
click here to view
6.12.13: TREES SAVED bar one ! "The contractors had got it all wrong" said NETWORK RAIL...Or was this just a face saving
in the wake of bad press???
And why did they tell porkies about me to the police???
Either way, the remaining 30 trees were saved bar one! Full story in all its glory here
SALTBURN TREES ATTACKED
BY MINDLESS VANDALS
(from Network Rail !)
For my Evening Gazette
expose and video: click here
DEC 4th: ESTON HILLS UPDATE:
£15,000+ RAISED IN JUST 7 WEEKS !
& ESTON HILLS CALENDARS
are now available from:
I'm currently putting together a short doco about 93-year old Eddie Straight, an old soldier with a very special story that he has decided to tell on camera for the first time. The film will be premiered at a public event in October.
More details soon
AUG 2013: Something Seriously Rotten in Cleveland
Earthbeat,a brilliant special needs theatre group with funding and massive community support want to convert the Registry Office in Guisborough into a community theatre/cinema/venue. BUT...R&C wants to sell it to pub chain Wetherspoons instead. Earthbeat have an exciting vision for the community but the council's vision is dead from the neck up! Another pub in a town with 13 pubs, innumerable cafes/restaurants and hardly any cultural provision! Earthbeat have a fantastic track record, they have funding in place and the passion and support to make it happen. But the Council think they know better than Earthbeat and can find them a better building/location...Earthbeat have been looking for a building for years and tell me there isn't anywhere else suitable in Guisborough.
In my opinion, based on experience of how they think and operate, this Council are an inept bunch of self-serving glory hunters who want their names, party badge and council logo all over it. They don't want to see people running such a place because if Earthbeat made a success of it, it would embarass and expose how much they have failed in providing any such a place in Guisborough. Like so many episodes before, this has turned into yet another PR disaster for Dunning & Co. Great internal rifts within Labour have been leaked via social media; Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop has added his support for the campaign and presented a 4000 strong petition in Parliament: and there was a personal, albeit opportunistic, show of support from Tory Baroness Varsi.
Earthbeat, led by the inspirational Tony Galuidi, is now taking the council to judicial review for its handling of the affair and is pushing full steam with the campaign. I did a poster for them below which is going up all around Guisboro and the excellent Coastal View paper gave Tony their latest front page to write and damningly brilliant it is!
AUG 2013: YET MORE PLANNING BLIGHT FROM R&C ! It's one of my greatest bugbears - bad planning decisions that degrade the environment and peoples' lives and carry on doing so after the decision-makers are long gone!
AUG 31st 2013: ARTSBANK VERY LTD.
Artsbank has shut down telling the Gazette "it was not economically viable anymore". The article linked me to the project and so I would like to make it very clear that I did co-found Artsbank Community Interest Company in 2009 but I had absolutely nothing to do with Artsbank Ltd, the commercial art supermarket that it became after my sudden execution in 2010.
To those lamenting its demise, the place did attract people into Saltburn and give local artists a platform (certainly more than Mima ever did!) but for many, in Saltburn at least, it always had a cloud over it. Many boycotted the place and as its commission increased up to 50%, many artists pulled out or avoided the place altogether. If Artsbank had been genuinely community interested who knows what might have been achieved???
For a genuine community gallery, ran by artists voluntarily, check out Redcar's new PALACE HUB GALLERY
AUG 2013:THE REDCAR BUNCLE ?
The new Redcar Beacon AKA The Vertical Pier,
now has another alias... The Redcar Buncle!
The £1.8m tower recently made the shortlist for national architecture award The Carbuncle Cup. It didn't win but the question has to be asked Is it a carbuncle?
The Eston Miners' Mega-Hike SAT 31st AUG 2013 New Route!Eston Hospital / TipYard / California / New Bank / SS Castle
Lovell Hill / Court Green / Nab / Ghost Town / Trustee.
Thanks to all who came! A great day and great weather !
For info on future walks please: CLICK HERE
JULY 2013: Oh My The Council done good !
MAR-JULY 2013: The Saga of 'AUNT SALLY'
So after the volleyball and parking fiascos, the hapless council plonks this dour witless monstrosity (incorrectly dubbed an 'Aunt Sally') without any consultation right into the middle of the prom causing disbelief among the local community; as well as inspiring some graphic indignation below ;-))
And then suddenly within days ....
IT WAS GONE !
Thieves in the night did Saltburn a favour and the council cut down the stumps. The police came to my door but I knew nothing about it and still don't.
I was secretly hoping its mystery captors would hold it to ransom until the council agreed to relocate it but no...it was disappointingly found dumped on the beach near Marske :-(
And then suddenly a couple of months later, it was back ! Re-instated at a more appropriate location
And all was swell.......well, apart from the boy's shoes...
FEB 24: TERRY HORNBY 1943-2013
WELDER - WOODWORKER - BRICKIE - DECORATOR - GARDENER - TOYMAKER - CHARITY FUNDRAISER & DAD EXTRAORDINAIRE X
THIS IS REAL PEOPLE PRIDE AND PROGRESS !
FEB 26:COMMUNITY STOPS COUNCIL
SALTBURN CELEBRATES AS PEOPLE POWER FORCES COUNCIL TO SCRAP ITS CONTROVERSIAL PLANS FOR SWEEPING PARKING RESTRICTIONS & CHARGES ACROSS THE TOWN. THE COMMUNITY CAME TOGETHER AS NEVER BEFORE. THE LABOUR MP SPOKE OUT AGAINST THE LABOUR COUNCIL. THERE WERE LABOUR COUNCILLORS VOTING AGAINST THE LABOUR CABINET AND EVEN LEAVING THE PARTY. BUT THIS WASN'T A PARTY POLITICAL FIGHT, IT WAS A COMMUNITY FIGHTING COUNCIL TYRANNY AND THEY WON JUST LIKE COATHAM DID 3 YEARS AGO.
“The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny, and almost imperceptible reductions. The people will not see these rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed” Adolf Hitler
FEB 15:THIS IS REAPING WHAT YOU SOW ! REPORTS COMING IN OF CLLR GOLDSWAIN (PICTURED BELOW IN SPOOF POLITICAL SUICIDE POSE !) "IN FLOODS OF TEARS" AT A COUNCIL MEETING IN RECENT DAYS...REAP WHAT YOU SOW YOUNG MAN...AND THINK A LITTLE MORE ABOUT DOING YOUR PUPPET MASTER'S DIRTY WORK ON THE RADIO AND IN THE PRESS... Eeesh talk about a donkey being thrown to the lions by an ass !
Feb 10: RANCID & CONTEMPTIBLE! Council earmark £20k to spend
on parking consultants, despite 99.9% objection
Council info leaked yesterday ahead of release...Despite unprecedented objection from Saltburn businesses, tourists and residents regarding the parking proposals, the Council are now planning to spend up to £20k on an "independent market research study". This is "to provide the council with a comprehensive understanding of the needs and attitudes of those who live and work in Saltburn".
After the greatest response to any consultation exercise ever carried out in this borough where 2,018 objected and just 5 were in favour.
This is utterly reprehensible.
Council leader George Dunning and his merry basket case cabinet are utterly beyond contempt. The Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop reacted immediately with a damning statement against calling it "ridiculous" and "a waste of £20,000".
You are either playing politics really badly, worryingly out of touch with reality or just plain old lying through your teeth.
Either way your leadership MUST be questioned.
You have NOT listened to the people OR your party MP; and you have obviously learned NOTHING whatsover from your previous belligerent attempt to ride roughshod over democracy at Coatham. NO confidence here and obviously
I am not alone.
Jan 2013: THE COUNCIL vs SALTBURN
Dear George & Co,
You want to consult? You want our opinions? You want to listen? Then here's some graphic food for thought because a picture is worth a thousand words...and even more with words attached !
Following the unprecedented onslaught of objections that you have recieved, please don't waste any more of your time and ours; and any more of our money, on a statutory consultation that is clearly NULL & VOID.
Can you confirm that you are hiring or seeking to hire a consultant at a cost of around £10,000 to try and find ways to change the minds of Saltburn people? If consultation and democracy are worth anything, you will junk such an idea and act swifty on behalf of the 99.999% of the people who objected to your nonsensical parking proposals. Anything else would be a travesty as well as political suicide for Labour in Saltburn. Sincerely, Craig Hornby,
The tyrannical and belligerent local authority that brought you 6 years of the Coatham disaster at the cost of £3m+ in public money, and got a deserved bloody nose in the Supreme Court in 2010, looks to be heading into another war against democracy and another sure PR disaster! Redcar & Cleveland Council is plotting to introduce sweeping parking charges and restrictions across Saltburn (Pay & Display on all the main streets with limited waiting plus residents parking permits in all the side streets and an annual £11 charge to follow). The fact is Saltburn has NO parking problems! What it does have is a thriving town centre of independent shops and businesses bucking the national trend of High Street decline ! NO VIRTUAL SHOPS HERE! This council's plans, are as usual full of holes. They will CREATE a raft of problems, drive away trade and tourism; and inconvenience EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY, FOREVER ! It is an attack on our town and on freedom itself and they're gunna charge us for the priviledge! THEY MUST BE STOPPED !
COUNCIL REAP WHIRLWIND & SNUB MEETING
Since being unveiled in November, the Council plans have reaped an absolute whirlwind of opposition, indignation and disbelief ! The scheme's "pre-consultation period " which ended on Jan 18th, saw an unprecedented response in terms of both turn out and objection so said one of the council staff in the consultation caravan. Also, over 400 residents packed out a public meeting on Jan 8th. Many voiced their concerns and took apart the Council plans with ease. The Council Cabinet (Lab) shamefully snubbed the meeting but all 3 ward councillors did turn out and all 3 firmly voiced their opposition. (See videos of full meeting above)
A SHAMEFUL SHOCKING BETRAYAL
Just 9 days after the public meeting, a shocking betrayal followed at a full council meeting. A motion had been called by Saltburn Cllr Philip Thomson (Tory) to scrap the plans and not waste any more time and money by proceeding to a pointless "statutory consultation" process. The motion was defeated by 3 votes and one of those votes belonged to Saltburn Cllr. Joan Guy (Lab) who went back on her word and voted with the council! She betrayed the town and its people for the sake of her party and should RESIGN NOW because you will be certainly finished at the next election.
ANOTHER PR DISASTER a la COATHAM ?
At the time of writing (Jan end), the council has retreated to digest the mountain of objections and consider its next move BUT info leaked to residents today (Jan 30th) from a council insider claims the Labour leadership are determined to push this through and are planning to spend approx. £10,000 to hire a consultant to try and find out what it will take to change the minds of the people! If true, this saga is fast becoming another Coatham aka an outrageous war on democracy at the expense of the public purse. AND this time they have got 100% of the community against them; and a community that has a diversity of intellect, ability and character that is unparalleled in any town in the Borough. So if you have any belief in democracy and any sense George, there is only one thing to do - tell the people you have listened and knock it on the head. Otherwise it could well be another bloody nose, more money wasted and another PR disaster...
Hasta la Victorie Siempre !
Political Volleyball anyone?
One morning in mid-December, a crew of workmen arrived with a JCB at Saltburn Valley Gardens and suddenly started ripping up The Donkey Field. In its esteemed wisdom and with NO public consultation whatsoever, the council were installing a BEACH VOLLEYBALL COURT - on Saltburn's best public green space - just 800 yards from 8 miles of beach! Blitzed with complaints, from residents already incensed by the parking proposals, Cabinet member for Tourism & Leisure Cllr. Olwyn Peters told the Gazette (Gazette story)"preliminary work has been carried out at the site but we will shortly be starting a consultation process" Consultation AFTER the fact?!...only in R&C! With their failure to consult and the ongoing public uproar, the council were forced into damage limitation mode and after a week or so they pulled the plug on it. But who was it that gave the green light in the first place??? I emailed Cllr. Peters but got NO REPLY. I have since found out, from a highly reputable council source, that it was in fact the neighbourhood officer for Saltburn, Gary Cummins. So did Cummins or the Council hold up their hand and make a public apology? Of course not! The Council chose instead to spin a story about how a complaint from an 11-year old schoolgirl (my friends' daughter in fact) had tugged their heartstrings and they had halted the project. (Gazette story). In one fell swoop, the Council had shamefully used a little girl to save face; acknowledged none of the other objectors and insulted the intelligence of the entire electorate by putting out such piffle - so let the truth be known! Workmen did return to try and restore the site but it remains an unturfed mess...perhaps the turf has been earmarked for a lawn tennis court on the beach?! Ridiculous & Comical alas...
JAN 2013:Gwen Wadwell & Jack Plews RIP
Two of the last three surviving interviewees from A Century in Stone passed away around New Year. Jack Plews was 99 and almost certainly the last surviving Eston mineworker. Former Eston hospital nurse, Gwen Wadwell, was 97. They are both immortalised on film and won't ever be forgotten.
There is now only 1 of the cast of 12 still living: Pit-Top native Gwen Waldon who will be 90 this year.
JAN 2013:LOST ART LOCATED
My cousin Don Playford, who died in 2010 at the age of 56, had been a gifted wildlife painter (as well as musician). He had succumbed to alcoholism and his artwork was long sold off to god knows where. Over Xmas, I got a call from a man in the Dales who had seen my tribute to Don on this site. He had 10 of Don's paintings and kindly offered to let me make copies and put them up. So for the first time ever on the net, I am very proud to present the lost art of Donald Playford.
ESTON MINERS' MEGA-HIKE Now Booking for Walking Groups & Schools...
Following much positive feedback, I've decided to open my guided walks on Eston hills to walking groups and schools on a by booking and year round basis. Like the miners...we will walk the hills whatever the weather! For more info please click here