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Shaft-sinking Crews at Boulby Potash

This is an image from an archive we were given access to.  It shows the shaft-sinking crews from Boulby Potash Mine who broke the European Shaft-sinking record with 400 feet in 30 days on the 4th February 1971 on the Rock Shaft. (This record was beaten again during the sinking of the Main Shaft). The names of the men (where known) are on a separate post. Phillip Smith tells us: ”My granddad James Stanley Smith worked as a steel fixer whilst the shaft was being sunk.” Steve Peirson also tells us: ”Hi! Yes you are correct I was at Boulby also at Whitemoor from 3rd March 1980 to 23rd August 1985; from start to finish. I was on no. 1 shaft and finished off no 2 shaft, they were tough days; my works number was 10. I worked with Mick Lanigan, Dennis Shepard, Eddie Catron, Mick Libby, Barry Johnson, Les and Neville Wheatley, George Cox, Jacker Porriit and the late Terry Lofthouse; Liam and Charlie Johnson and worked with many, many more good lads!” M. Cundy tells us: ”I also can remember all names listed at Whitemoor, especially Dennis Shepard the winder driver. I too started in February 1980 till the end of sinking. There were many problems least of all when water chased the working platform back up the shaft quicker than winder could winch it on No 2 Shaft. Working in Foraky frozen shaft early on was a trauma for the sinkers too I recall.” We also have a request from Gary Hayes: ”Hi all, I am looking for some information on my father (Wilf Hayes), I can remember going with him on numerous occasion (I think in the late sixties) to the Cleveland Potash Mine; he worked for a German firm called Deutag. He was from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire and so was several other crew members. If any one could give dates when this was and any other information on him and crew members would appreciate it? Many thanks.” Steve Peirson further tells us: ” Deutag did the drilling around the rock shaft in 1970 for Foraky, to freeze the ground while the shaft was being sunk. I remember it I was only twenty at the time and work for the mine construction consortium.”

Image courtesy of Alan Franks and thanks to Phillip Smith, Steve Peirson, M. Cundy, Joan Webster, Gary Hayes and Alan for the updates and memories.

Skinningrove Works Apprentice Awards (1976)

Here’s a newspaper cutting showing the top apprentices at Skinningrove in 1976. Martin Smith tells us: ”I am third from right back row.  I believe this photo was taken at the end of 1976, because that was the year I won this award.”
Image courtesy of J W Knaggs and thanks to Martin Smith for the update.

Skinningrove Iron and Steel Works

A panoramic view of the steel works taken from Brotton Miner’s Hospital or somewhere near.  Still in the days of steam locomotives on the railway, so the works would be in full production.


Bus on Carlin How Bank

Classic photograph  – of a Bedford Duple and that it is the 1950’s.  Alan Chilton advises us that this was part of the Saltburn Motor Services (Kelly Watsons) fleet operating from Loftus to Saltburn via Liverton Mines. That number plate would be worth a fortune! 

Thanks to Alan Chilton for the update.

Exploratory Drilling at Boulby Potash Site

I suppose it pays to be in the right spot!

Image courtesy of Alan Franks.

Early Days

Cleveland Potash rises from the green and pleasant fields near Boulby. A scan of an original print, dated October 1969. Roy Jacklin tells us: “I was living in Liverton Mines and working at Skinningrove steel works when I learned that a Potash firm was to open at Boulby. I along with workmate Ken Rawson of Loftus made enquiries and learned that Monks were to prepare the groundworks. We got a job and along with Mr Murphy?, his sons Colin and Bernard of Boosebeck and another man were the first to start work on preparing the land for developement. Because the weather was unfit to begin work immediately we spent time in a tin shelter with only a small gas ring for heating and boiling a kettle. Water from the surrounding hillside poured through the hut. We did eventually get started preparing roadways, drainage etc. I was employed as tractor driver which had a hoist (handy for lowering the large drain segments!) and assisting the Thysen mechanics liting heavy engine parts in or out of the heavy earth movers. I didn’t remain at Boulby to see the sinking of the shafts as I went to Low Worsell Pumping Station with Monks. I later learned that one of the Murphy brothers, Colin perhaps went on to be head sinker with Thysens.”

Image courtesy of Alan Franks and thanks to Roy Jacklin for the update.

Skinningrove Works

Here’s a happy crew taking a tea-break in the sunshine. It’s Skinningrove works, but which part – and who were they and when!

Eric Trembath tells us:”This looks like the riggers gang. Two of my old work mates top row 2nd right Tony Prior (from Whitby). Bottom row 2nd right Dennis Theaker, sadly now deceased. Many happy years working with them both. I was the last of the ’Grove riggers and retired in 2008, the end of an era! Eric.”

Many thanks to Eric Trembath for that update.

More Early Days

An aerial image of the site with the ground cleared ready for construction.
Image courtesy of Alan Franks.

Last Tub of Stone Out, Loftus 1958

Men of the last shift at Loftus Mine pose with their handiwork.  The closing of the mines destabilised a lot of the local communities as people drifted away to find new jobs and eventually moved to be nearer their new place of work.

Back Row: Allan Creswick, Harold Found, Cyril Gibson (blacksmith’s striker), Walter Wilson, Bill Dawson, Don Breckon.

Front Row: Jim Tinkler, Walt Sayers (check weighman), George Adamson, Harold Ralph ‘Lal’ Gibson (blacksmith), Jim Easton (holder of the Daily Herald Award for Industrial Heroism for rescuing Jim Tinkler in an incident which witnessed the death of Jim Trousdale), Allan Readman. 

Thanks to Eric Johnson, Joanne Cooper and Cazzi Kerr for names.

Margrove Park Mine -1900

This is an early image of Margrove Park Mine or Magra as it is still known locally. In front of the wooden headgear over the downcast shaft you can see the top of the upcast shaft with the smoke coming from the fire at its base to induce ventilation in the mine. This shaft top was later heightened and a pulley wheel installed on the top; this is now the structure which still survives on the site. The mine closed about 1924; it stood on the site of the present day Caravan Park and connected to the Boosbeck to Middlesbrough railway via a single track which crossed the road from Charltons to Boosbeck with a gated crossing.  The village of Margrove Park; known as  Magra Park – after the deer park which was here originally – was built in a large rectangle, one side of which was the local shops – all of which were demolished due to mining subsidence (after the mine had closed and they fell into disuse).  The only remaining example of a shop (the Co-operative) is the pre-fab building on the opposite side of the road to the village garden. Bob Clements tells us: ”The railway crossing at Magra was a gated crossing. The gates were still there when I was a lad at Magra. That was in the 1940s. I can’t remember when they finally disappeared.” Helen commented: “I have just been walking around this area and found a cordoned off mine shafts in the woods behind the caravan park, but couldn’t tell my younger sister if it was a mine shaft or not!”

Thanks to Simon Chapman for comments and corrections, also Bob Clements for the update on the gates and Helen regarding the former shafts.