The 100 years following the opening of the Whitby and Pickering railway in 1835 saw an explosion in ironstone mining in the Rosedale and Esk Valley areas, along with even more pioneering railway construction that connected these remote valleys to Teesside and the wider world. Many of the relics left from this period are crumbling and the stories around them are at risk of being forgotten forever.
The Land of Iron project has now protected and conserved the most iconic of these monuments and is working with land managers to nurture the natural environment that has reclaimed these spaces. It has documented and told the stories of what life was like for these communities when the landscape looked very different to how it does today.
The project is a Landscape Partnership scheme, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, North York Moors National Park Authority, David Ross Foundation, and other partners. The total project value is £4 million and runs between 2016 and 2021.
The project area covers around 14% of the North York Moors National Park in a sweeping arc from Goathland in the east, following Stephenson’s original rail route north to Grosmont, then westwards along the Esk Valley to Kildale, and finally crossing the Moors south eastwards to reach Rosedale.
Within this 77 square mile area there is a mix of remarkable built heritage sites, some visually breath-taking such as the calcining kilns and ironstone mines at Rosedale and the ventilation chimney at Warren Moor Mine, and some almost hidden from view, such as Grosmont Ironworks and the mines at Beck Hole and Esk Valley. These sites have been conserved and protected, many with improved access for the public.
Wrapped around this built heritage is a patchwork of valuable habitats and species that have withstood the industrial exploitation and sometimes found a particular niche in the landscape left behind, such as the nationally important ring ouzel. Ancient woodland, upland hay meadows and salmon rivers have been improved and gaps between sites filled to improve connectivity and help wildlife move more freely.
Vision and Aims
The vision of the Land of Iron is:
By 2021 the landscape and ironstone heritage of the North York Moors will be in better condition and better cared for, will be better understood and valued by more people, and will have a more sustainable future
This is supported by five aims, the difference the project will make:
- Industrial heritage sites and features will be recorded, protected and conserved
- The natural environment and biodiversity will be improved
- The landscape and heritage will be better managed and more people will be actively involved in caring for it
- The landscape and its industrial past will be more accessible, understood and enjoyed by more people
- The future of the landscape and heritage will be safer and more sustainable
Making An Impact
For a quick peek at what we have been up to in the Land of Iron, have a look at our fun figures below:
The team have been hard at work to implement the project vision and its aims across the Land of Iron landscape. By recognising the importance of helping to care, understand and value our cultural and natural heritage, we are making a positive and lasting difference.
This can be achieved in a number of exciting and invigorating ways - upskilling new and present volunteers, inspiring the younger generation, using the latest technologies, building relationships and improving existing facilities. These are just a few of the methods used in the Land of Iron project.
You can download (PDF) the full infographics here.
Landscape Conservation Action Plan
The Landscape Conservation Action Plan is the strategy for this landscape – why it is important, how it is valued and the amazing stories it has to tell. It sets out the exciting mix of projects that will be delivered over the lifetime of the project and a plan for how the landscape will be cared for in the future.
You can view and download (pdf 6.6Mb) Part 1 of this document here.
The People Involved
The project is managed by a team of four dedicated staff working from the North York Moors National Park Authority headquarters in Helmsley and the Moors National Park Centre in Danby.
A Partnership made up of local interest groups and organisations oversees and steers the project. Many of the people involved have worked hard for many years to make the project a reality and it has come not a moment too late, with many of the heritage structures now in a critical condition.