Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (January 16th 2014) called on the floor of the House of Commons for the Skinningrove Mining Museum to be made a ‘National Museum for Ironstone Mining’ to mark the 50th anniversary of the last shift at North Skelton mine – the last of the Cleveland ironstone mines.
“I made this call on the eve of that closure which happened on the 17th January 1964. This was a significant date; in the words of one local paper “Its passing ended a way of life which brought industrial might to Teesside and moulded generations of men of iron”. Ironstone mining built Teesside’s industrial pre-eminence in Victorian years, and laid the foundation for today’s steel industry – still a crucial part of our economic base today.
“The mining villages built in East Cleveland are still alive and the memory of their mining heritage is part of the local consciousness. The miners built up the social institutions – from the Co-op to the chapel – that still survive today. Miners, their families and descendants – and I am one of those descendants – also became community leaders and representatives. Indeed, the first Labour MP in my present constituency, Billy Mansfield, was a checkweighman at the Grinkle Mine in Easington.
“The mining museum at Skinningrove is a valuable and unique repository of that industry, the pitmen and their communities and that is why I have asked the Leader of the House to mark this anniversary by designating the Skinningriove Museum a national museum, similar to the National Railway Museum in York and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. This would allow for the museum trustees and committee to approach a far wider range of sponsors and funders based on a national status.”