6th April 2019:

'Spirit Of East Cleveland'

A New Miners Sculpture for Skelton

I was recently contacted by The Friends of Skelton who told me that they had commissioned Bill Harling, a professional sculptor who lives in Skelton, to create a mining statue for the village. I was thrilled to learn that Bill had said my film had “guided his hands as he sculpted the piece” and that he wanted me to unveil it. What an honour! I went to meet Bill and see the piece at his studio a few days before the unveiling. I was blown away! I wrote a speech and with help from North Skelton Band and Skelton Primary School, we unveiled, what I think, is the finest mining heritage tribute in Cleveland. Big salute to Bill and The Friends of Skelton! It was such a far cry from the recent debacle in my native Eston (more)



“When the Skinningrove Seam, was discovered at Eston in 1850, it proved the existence, of a great orefield running beneath Cleveland. The iron rush that followed, brought pioneers from every corner of Britain, to this Cleveland Klondike. Within 20 years, Cleveland led the world’s iron trade, with some 25 companies, 40 pits and a 100 furnaces roaring along the Tees. This was the great ‘Ironopolis’, the ‘infant Hercules’, industry of a scale never before seen on the planet. The railways of the world, were made of Bolckow-Vaughan iron, and later, Dorman Long steel spanned rivers across the world, and most famously across Sydney harbour.

And the source of this epic legacy was deep beneath our feet. The humble Cleveland miner, at the face with pick, drill and black powder, his mate with sledgehammer and wedge, battling to fill 16 tons a shift. For a pittance of pay, day after day, year after year, decade after decade. Amid the smoke, dust and slurry, where 1000s of men and boys, risked their lives, by simply going to work. Where many hundreds, did pay the ultimate price.  

East Cleveland was founded on a spirit of endeavour, endurance and solidarity. A camaraderie second to none, that permeated from the pits, to get workers, families and communities, through the toughest of times. A camaraderie that saw the Cleveland Miners’ Union defy the bosses, to hold their first demonstration. It happened right here in Skelton in 1872, when miners marched with their bands from all over Cleveland.

The pits are now long gone, but the spirit, as evidenced today, lives on and in these times, is no less relevant. This fine sculpture is a result of local people, coming together, in tribute to those past, inspiring those present and those yet to come”. 

CH 06/04/19