Cleveland Hills

A peaceful rural scene.

How different it would look today if the giant oil companies had found “black gold” in the 1930s. A forest of oil derricks and nodding donkeys?

In 1938, the Gulf Exploration Company began drilling for oil in the Cleveland Hills. 30 men were employed1“News in Brief.” Times, 9 July 1938, p. 12. The Times Digital Archive, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/CS202584809/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=745f542a. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021., seeking the oil that the jet miners of the past had found traces of2“Oil Drilling in Yorkshire.” Aberdeen Journal, 9 July 1938, p. 7. British Library Newspapers, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/JE3238521661/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=1c9947d7. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021..

The following year, it was reported that the Anglo-American Oil Company had surrendered part of their licence covering 20 square miles under Nunthorpe. This was part of a licence covering 188 square miles in the counties of York and Durham, including Middlesbrough. But an additional licence was granted for 30 square miles at Runswick Bay including the adjacent sea bed3“The Search For Oil In Yorkshire.” Times, 17 Oct. 1939, p. 15. The Times Digital Archive, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/CS253572433/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=14ab5691. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021..

Prospects must have been good because in 1940 the Board of Trade issued two further oil prospecting licences to Anglo-American. One for 127 square miles under the town of Stokesley, and the other for under the sea off Robin Hood’s Bay4“Oil Search Planned in Undersea Fields.” Daily Mail, 6 May 1940, p. 3. Daily Mail Historical Archive, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/EE1865203220/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=73333d49. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021..

I guess the hopes of an oil bonanza just fizzled out. The oil companies seem to turn their attention to further south. By 1946, oil was being produced in Eakring, Nottinghamshire5FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT. “Borings For Oil.” Times, 13 Sept. 1946, p. 2. The Times Digital Archive, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/CS34554669/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=76fde949. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.. And it was still going in the 1960s, I remember the nodding donkeys.

 

  • 1
    “News in Brief.” Times, 9 July 1938, p. 12. The Times Digital Archive, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/CS202584809/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=745f542a. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.
  • 2
    “Oil Drilling in Yorkshire.” Aberdeen Journal, 9 July 1938, p. 7. British Library Newspapers, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/JE3238521661/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=1c9947d7. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.
  • 3
    “The Search For Oil In Yorkshire.” Times, 17 Oct. 1939, p. 15. The Times Digital Archive, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/CS253572433/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=14ab5691. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.
  • 4
    “Oil Search Planned in Undersea Fields.” Daily Mail, 6 May 1940, p. 3. Daily Mail Historical Archive, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/EE1865203220/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=73333d49. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.
  • 5
    FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT. “Borings For Oil.” Times, 13 Sept. 1946, p. 2. The Times Digital Archive, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/CS34554669/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=76fde949. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

One Reply to “Cleveland Hills”

  1. Decades later in the 1970s I worked as a draughtsman on the design of a natural gas installation near Lockton
    The plant was installed, but never produced the forecast delivery and closed down shortly after start up as far as I know.
    I believe that some of the wellhead equipment may still be in place, but couldn’t tell you exactly where

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