Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Gazing over Guisborough: A historical view from a new bench

Walking home from Guisborough, I came upon this spanking new bench at the top of Belmangate, the ‘road‘ meandering southward from the town up the ‘beautiful mountain.

The bench is actually in the field, but is accessed from the forestry track. I imagine the original line of the fence followed the boundary, so I am curious about the arrangements struck with the field owner.

Nevertheless, the bench offers a fine view for those so inclined to sit and stare, overlooking one of the numerous housing estates built during the 1960s and 70s to accommodate the burgeoning petrochemical works on Teesside.

Way back in 1808, Guisborough was described as encompassing: “… one principal street running east and west, which is broad and spacious, and many houses being built in a modern style, the town has a neat and pleasing appearance.1Reverend John Graves, “History of Cleveland” 1808. In the 1851 census, the populace tallied 2,062; a decade hence, it had swelled to 4,084, and as the century closed, approximately 5,600 inhabitants lived in the town2“Guisborough Before 1900”. Edited by B.J.D. Harrison and G. Dixon. Page 167. 1982. ISBN 0 9507827 0 X..

This dramatic surge resulted from the rise of the Teesside iron and steel industry, hinging on the exploitation of the primary Cleveland ironstone seam, unearthed in the Eston Hills in 1850. The identical seam resurfaced in the escarpment south of Guisborough, prompting the establishment of mines on the elevated terrain flanking the vale, including Spawood and Slapewath, once the railway had arrived from Middlesbrough. An influx of migrant labour from various corners of the British Isles ensued, fostering a demographic surge necessitating the construction of numerous dwellings, some of which still survive within the town.

Come the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, the local ironstone mines began to close, causing a downturn in the local economy. The railway closed occurred after the winding up of the last Cleveland ironstone mine at North Skelton in 1964.

However, in 1954, Imperial Chemical Industries had started their operations in Wilton, and Guisborough had set forth on its expedition to morph into a dormitory town, witnessing an almost tripling of its populace to approximately 17,000.

  • 1
    Reverend John Graves, “History of Cleveland” 1808.
  • 2
    “Guisborough Before 1900”. Edited by B.J.D. Harrison and G. Dixon. Page 167. 1982. ISBN 0 9507827 0 X.






One response to “Gazing over Guisborough: A historical view from a new bench”

  1. Martin Smith avatar

    Belmangate is origionally “belmond” = french, meaning beautiful hill

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