Adam Gaunt recounts his brickie moment at Cleveland’s ironstone mining museum
As a parish priest I have often found myself called upon to undertake all manner of tasks which I could never have envisioned or prepared for, and on Friday 28 January 2022 I found myself in such a position.
As the Rector, I became a trustee of our local museum soon after taking up the post in 2009. There has been a long association between the church community and our local museum ever since a local journalist named Tom Leonard made a concerted effort to save something of the industrial heritage of the Cleveland ironstone mining industry as it came to its conclusion in the early 1960s. One of the first chairmen was a clergyman, and I have served as Chairman of the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum’s board of trustees for a number of years as we have worked together to build a new museum fit for the twenty-first century and which rightly celebrates the rich iron and steel heritage of Cleveland and Teesside. The trustees’ vision is to share and celebrate the unique industrial heritage of Cleveland with the widest possible audience and our new facilities will enable the visiting public to engage with the fascinating and unique ironstone heritage of our Teesside.
The board of trustees has successfully received almost two million pounds of investment funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Coastal Community Fund, the Tees Valley Combined Authority, and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, to construct and fit out a bespoke new museum building. In August 2021 construction company Tolent were successfully awarded the project to refurbish the old museum building and to construct the iconic new three-storey extension. The new building will link to the historic buildings and make the museum more accessible and inclusive for the visiting public.
The redevelopment of the museum is also being supported by British Steel, whose Skinningrove plant provides employment for the community. British Steel has donated the materials for the heavy steel sections of the new build, and with the steel frame in place L&S Brickworks North East has made great progress with the facing brickwork.
Thus, on Friday 28 January, I joined colleagues in laying a brick as the construction of the museum’s exciting new extension gains pace. Fortunately, I received a brief training course from Luke Rayner and Simon Haley of L&S Brickworks, and I was under the watchful eye of Tolent Site Manager Graham Wood. I have to say it was wonderful to fulfil the ambition of laying a brick on such an historic construction project such as this!
The museum’s trustees are delighted with the progress being made on site and we are looking forward to seeing the fruit of our labours when the museum reopens later this year, until then the museum will continue to use space in Saint Helen’s Parish Church Carlin How with Skinningrove for temporary exhibitions and events. The new museum is expected to open later this year and regular updates on the project can be found on the museum’s excellent website landofiron.org.uk and on Facebook (cimmuseum).
The Revd Adam Gaunt is the Rector of Loftus-in-Cleveland and Carlin How with Skinningrove in the Diocese of York and Chairman of the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum.