Out & About …

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

Spawood and Spa Ironstone Mines

At Slapewath near Guisborough, there were two ironstone mines operating in the late 19th-century within one hundred metres of each other. To the south of Alumwork Beck (the Guisborough side) was Spawood, and to north (the Skelton side) the Spa mine.

They were operated by different companies and worked different royalties, but apart from their close proximity, they share the unfortunate coincidence of having fatalities on this day, 7th June.

In 1883, Joseph White was only on his second shift working at Spa Mine. He had been a soldier for seven years, and it had only been a few weeks since returning from India. He was working alone, his “mate” being off for the day, and having “fired a hole”, was filling a waggon when the stone came down and killed him on the spot. The inquest heard that “he had fired his hole and commenced to fill the waggon without trying the stone that had been loosened by the shot ; and thus, for the want of a little care and forethought, had unfortunately lost his life”1“Local and District News.” Daily Gazette For Middlesbrough, 14 June 1883, p. 4. British Library Newspapers, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/R3208248727/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=bookmark-GDCS&xid=d8d0c1d8. Accessed 7 June 2021.2“Spa Fatality – Joseph White – 07 Jun 1883.” 2017. East Cleveland’s Industrial Heartland <https://east-clevelands-industrial-heartland.co.uk/2017/06/07/spa-fatality-joseph-white-07-jun-1883/> [accessed 7 June 2021].

I doubt if anyone remembered Joseph White seventeen years later when John William Walker, a 37 year old deputy was killed in Spawood Mine. The Mines Inspectors Report states he was killed “while he was drawing a jud, a fall occurred from roof”3Durham Mining Museum. 2021. “Durham Mining Museum – John Walker – Individual Page,” Dmm.org.uk <http://www.dmm.org.uk/individ1/i11512.htm> [accessed 7 June 2021].

Walker was born in the Union Workhouse at Northallerton to Margaret Walker, a single woman, who was resident there at the time. By the 1881 census, Walker, aged 14, was a horse driver in the ironstone mines, a typical job for a young lad. He married Phoebe Heatherington in 1889 at the All Saints church in Skelton. In 1891, he and Phoebe were living at 23 Charltons Cottages, with Phoebe’s mother and brother. In 1901, John and Phoebe were now living on their own at 26 Charltons Terrace. His occupation as listed as an underground Ironstone Miner4“Spa Wood Fatality – John Walker – 07 Jun 1904.” 2017. Comment by peterappleton3 .East Cleveland’s Industrial Heartland <https://east-clevelands-industrial-heartland.co.uk/2017/06/07/spa-wood-fatality-john-walker-07-jun-1904/> [accessed 7 June 2021].

John Walker is buried in Boosbeck churchyard, on his gravestone is the inscription “Be ye also ready5Chapman, Simon. “Guisborough District Mines”. Cleveland Ironstone Series. 2001. Published by Peter Tuffs. Page 65

There is not much to see at both mine sites. Spa is covered by a large scrapyard and Spawood is now a private residence, but it’s remote powder house is still accessible. I included the powder house in a posting a few years ago.

Spawood Mine Powder House

An overall photo of the site is not uninspiring, the whole area is well wooded. So a long range photo of the Slapewath col from half way up Birk Brow. At the lowest point on the col, Spawood would be on the left and Spa on the right.



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2 responses to “Spawood and Spa Ironstone Mines”

  1. Jessica Jackson avatar
    Jessica Jackson

    Hello, I am looking for information on Fancy Cottage next to Waterfall Viaduct. I believe the house was built for John Tate, a manager at Spa Mines, but am struggling to find information on the Internet to confirm this. Can you direct me to any sources where I may learn more about the house and its owners? Thank you.

    1. Fhithich avatar

      Sorry, but the names “Fancy Bank” and “John Tate” do not crop up in my records. I would suggest you write to the Cleveland Mining Heritage Society at https://cmhs.org.uk/. Their members have a much greater depth of information than I have.

      Regard, Mick

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