By the middle of the 19th century the iron-making industry in the northeast was expanding rapidly, especially in the Middlesbrough area. As a result, the search was on across Cleveland and North Yorkshire for ironstone deposits to feed this expanding industry. Warren Moor was one of these ventures but the planned shaft mine never started actual production and the site was closed by 1874.
An interpretive panel at the site explains the significance of the mine. The Ordnance Survey map background illustrates the area of the mine in 1894, twenty years after its closure. The artist’s reconstructions show an approximation of how the mine may have looked towards the end of 1866 and provide an idea of working conditions for the men employed to sink the shafts.
The history of the mine
In 1857 a survey was undertaken on the Kildale Estate to investigate the nature of the ironstone deposits. Borehole tests revealed a Main Seam thickness of between 5 and 6 feet, but split by a band of shale. Iron content was low, averaging barely 26%, compared to 30% found across most of the Cleveland area with thickness of around 8 to 10 feet. The offer of a mining lease from the Estate was declined by the prospecting company, Bell Brothers Ltd.
Drift mining had, however, begun in the valley sides here at Warren Moor by April 1865 under the direction of John Watson and his group of southern investors. The drift mines extracted ironstone from the Top Seam, known also by its geological term the “Dogger”. The ironstone was calcined on site (roasted to drive off impurities) in open clamps before being transported to blast furnace sites by rail. A standard gauge rail spur line was constructed to join with the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Picton to Grosmont Railway. Now known as the Esk Valley Line, it is still in use today.
Despite previous poor test results, in January 1866 John Watson took out a 42-year mining lease on 1500 acres of land, forming the “Warren Moor Mine” (Company Ltd). Work soon began to sink two shafts to intercept the Main Seam at a depth of 220 feet. Surface works and a chimney for the steam boilers were constructed and by the end of 1866 the boiler house chimney (still evident) was completed and the “Upcast Shaft” sunk. The “Downcast Shaft” was excavated to 150 feet but by June 1868, with the Company in financial difficulties, the Kildale Estate reclaimed the site and all equipment.
Four years later, in September 1872, another company, the “Leven Vale Company Ltd”, took out a new lease on the site. Within a short period this company had built a row of stone cottages for its workers (mapped as Leven Vale Cottages) but appears to have made no further progress in completing the mine site works and shafts. It did, however, continue to mine the Top Seam ironstone from the valley side until in 1874 this company too went into receivership.
This was the end of ironstone mining at Warren Moor.
Further borehole tests were carried out by the Bolckow & Vaughan Iron Company in 1913 but these only confirmed the earlier poor results for the Kildale Estate.
The Leven Vale Cottages were subsequently demolished by volunteers from the village in 1927. The stone was transported by horse and cart back to the village where it was used to build the Village Hall, which is still in use today.
In 1979 the site was carefully examined and excavated by John Owen, a pioneer in the regional study of industrial archaeology, from which this information has been sourced.
Warren Moor Mine is private property and fenced for your protection due to the nature of the deep excavations.
Warren Moor Ironstone Mine, Kildale (pdf), by John Owen, published in the Cleveland Industrial Archaeologist (1981, No.13, pages 33-53)
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