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Crag Hall Mine, Brotton Road, Carlin How

Crag Hall Mine, Brotton Road, Carlin How, Mrs Mary Ward was murdered here on Christmas Eve 1873. Mrs Ward who was later described as a “vagrant”, was Vessel-Cup or Wassail singing in the area at the time. She carried a small lined box containing the Virgin Mary lying in cotton-wool and surrounded by evergreens, and went from house to house unceremoniously opening every door and saying:

God bless the master of this house and the mistress also And all the bonny bairns around your table go, For it is at this time that strangers travel far and near Saying ‘I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

After showing the occupants her box she expected (and almost always got!) a gift of money and food. On Christmas Eve she had been drinking in the Maynard Arms and was later accosted near the engine sheds in Brotton Road by several young, drunken labourers. The men proceeded to attack her, beat her and eventually threw her down the shaft (a depth of 86 yards) of Cragg Hall Mine where she was found the next day. The men concerned were apprehended and brought to justice. Street ballads of the incident were written and sung around Cleveland. The mine was abandoned in 1894.

Image and information courtesy of Joan Wiggins and others.

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