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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Ironstone project taps into lottery cash seam so it can unearth rich history

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a £2.8m grant to protect and raise awareness of one of the unique landscapes of the North York Moors national park.

Rosedale east mines. Photo by Paddy Chambers.
The project will help people to understand and enhance the landscape and its legacy of 19th century ironstone exploitation, preserving it for future generations and making connections to Teesside, the industrial area that it created.

Geoff Taylor, vice-chair of the executive group, This Exploited Land, said: ”The success of our bid brings to fruition a truly cooperative endeavour by groups across and around the North York Moors.

"We are now enabled to preserve the extraordinary efforts of pioneering Victorian railwaymen, ironstone miners and steelmakers for future generations and that is a source of great pride. Local history groups play an increasingly important part in the life of our communities and they will take heart from this.”

The dramatic and distinctive landscape at the centre of the project tells a story about the importance of the pioneering ironstone and railway heritage of an area from Grosmont, through Eskdale to Kildale and then on through Rosedale to Rosedale Abbey, which is being eroded over time. It will also encourage rare wildlife, ancient woodlands, wild daffodils and the special species of the River Esk.

The project is a culmination of hard work and vision from local communities, the national park authority, volunteers and the This Exploited Land Partnership and its executive group.

With match funding from the national park authority, the David Ross Foundation and other partners, it takes the total budget for the scheme to £3.5m.

East Mines. Photo by Paddy Chambers.
National park chief executive Andy Wilson said: “The Heritage Lottery Funding will help ensure the story of the landscape will be a source of inspiration and pride for years to come. This is wonderful news for the national park and we’re very excited about starting the projects and working with the TEL executive and local community to deliver on our vision.”

The project has three connected components; archaeology and built heritage, the natural environment and interpretation, education and engagement.
A total of 46 individual projects will carried out over the next five years across the area – ranging from the conservation of the iconic structures, such as ironstone kilns in Rosedale and mines in Kildale, reconnecting habitats and restoring ancient woodlands, removal of fish barriers along the River Esk, to working with schools to encourage children to connect with and learn more about the landscape.

Doctor Louise Cooke, the national park's heritage officer, said: “The scheme is really diverse, with lots of opportunities for people to get involved. It’s really exciting after years of intense project planning to see our long- term aspirations being turned into reality and getting the go ahead for our projects to begin.”

The This Exploited Land project area covers a sweeping arc from Goathland to Grosmont, then westwards along the Esk Valley to Kildale, finally crossing the moors south eastwards to reach Rosedale. A patchwork of habitats occurs across the area, from ancient semi-natural woodland and upland hay meadows to riverbank habitats along the River Esk and its adjoining streams.

Ring ouzels, mountain blackbirds, are an example of how the former industrial heritage has shaped the landscape for wildlife today. These birds are associated with the belt of land on the moorland edge around the disused railway and kilns in Rosedale. This species is a national conservation priority so by preserving this historic landscape and bolstering the habitat by providing more berry-bearing shrubs, the ring ouzel population will increase, helping to halt national long-term declines.

Louise added: “The still relatively remote landscape conceals a largely untold story of communities shaped by a century of intense industrial activity, a story of enterprise and innovation, of hard physical work at a scale hard to imagine, all in an area of outstanding landscape value, now protected by its designation as a national pPark.”

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