Site Records

Site Name: Rosedale Mines & Tramway

North York Moors
North Yorkshire
OS Grid Ref: SE7295

Site visit: June 1988 & July 1990

[Source: Roy Lambeth]

Rosedale is a deep valley extending nearly eight miles south from the main west-east watershed of The North Yorkshire Moors. It has a single isolated village called Rosedale Abbey whose livelihood depends on farming and tourists, but for a brief period in the 19th & early 20th Century it was a scene of a flourishing mining industry.

So valuable was the ironstone discovered on its hillsides that a 20 mile standard gauge railway was built over the watershed to transport this mineral wealth to ironworks in County Durham.

Although medieval bloomeries have been discovered in the area, modern ironstone workings began in the dale side of Rosedale near Hollins Farm about a mile south of Rosedale Abbey in 1856 when a 60 year lease on 8000 acres of land was given to George Leeman (deputy Chairman of the North Eastern Railway), Isaac Hartas (an iron founder of Wrelton) and Alexander Clunes Sheriff (traffic manager of The North Eastern Railway).

The three partners formed The Rosedale Mining Company. At first the ore was taken by road to Pickering and then by rail via Malton and Pilmoor to various ironworks including the Derwent Works at Consett.

In 1858 The North Yorkshire and Cleveland Railway extended its line from Stokesley to Kildale with stations at Ingleby, Battersby and Kildale. Ingleby Junction (map ref NZ 589073) became Battersby Junction in 1878 and then just Battersby in 1893. The station is still open to passengers on the Middlesbrough to Whitby service.

Soon after the opening, The NY & CR was absorbed by the N.E.R. At Battersby there were extensive sidings and a 3 road engine shed with a turntable. The shed was built in 1875/6 but was closed in 1895. There were also two rows of about 30 cottages which survive and are still inhabited.

The Rosedale Branch leaves the southern end of the sidings in almost a straight line for 2.5 miles on a rising gradient to the start of Ingleby Incline.

Photo:The Ingleby Incline in 1927

Photo:The Ingleby Incline in 1988
Photo by Roy Lambeth

The incline is 1430 yards long and ascends to an altitude of 1370ft at the top starting at 1 in 11 gradient steepening to 1 in 5 by the top. At the incline top (Map ref NZ609026) were a drum house, workshops, four cottages and a collection of sidings.

For the next 11 miles the line does not drop below 1000 ft and crosses the watershed of Westerdale, Bransdale and Farndale by means of numerous curves and substantial cuttings and embankments to a facing junction where from 1873 to 1895 there was a 0.75mile long spur along the edge of Farndale to serve the Blakey Mines. The line then passed under the moor road from Hutton-le-Hole to Castleton (only road overbridge on the line) to Blakey Junction (SE685988) where it trails in to the line from Rosedale East Mines to Rosedale West Mines.

Top of the Ingleby Incline - Drum house and hopper wagon's, with railway cottages to the right

On a narrow section of Balkey Rigg at an altitude of 1200 ft there was a run-round loop, a private siding for the Farndale farmers plus four other sidings and several cottages.

From Blakey Junction the line extended 3.75 miles on a falling gradient to stop just short of the Rosedale Abbey to Hutton-le-Hole Road at Bank Top (often now called Rosedale Chimney) (SE720951) at around 1000ft above sea level, where there was a two road engine shed and several sidings including a goods siding.

Sheriff's Pit in 1911
Approximately 25ft below were 16 railway cottages, a set of calcine kilns for iron ore, and an inclined tramway to Hollins West Mines.

Midway between Blakey Junction and West Mines Terminus was Sheriff's Pit Ironstone Mine (SE698962) with its 270ft deep vertical shaft plus horizontal drifts about 175ft below the pit down the valley side, one of which extended 1500ft to the shaft bottom, driven along an ironstone outcrop above Medd's Farm, Thorgill.

The drift to the shaft bottom was used to transport the mined ore from the other drifts to rail level at the pit head This mine operated from 1857 to March 1879 reopening in 1881 until 1911. The ironstone seam varied in thickness from 8ft at the outcrop to 5ft high and 80 yards wide where mining was abandoned. It is reported that the shaft was still open in 1974 but the buildings at the pit head (engine house, Manager's House and workshops) have been demolished. Traces of a building, loading bay and the drift entrances can be found at the tips above Medd's Farm.

Photo:Calcine Kilns at Rosedale West in 1990
Photo by
Roy Lambeth

At Bank Top the inclined tramway from Hollins Mines (SE729945) transported the iron ore up around 400ft to the large kilns just below the N.E.R. branch terminus. The ore was tipped into the kilns from above to be 'roasted' to drive off water and carbonic acid gas. This process is known as calcinations and dramatically reduces the weight of the ironstone which in turn reduces transport costs and royalties. Initially using locally mined poor coal, later the empty wagons returning from the ironworks in County Durham brought coal for the calcinations process.

Much of the masonry of the kilns survives but all the shutters and ironwork have long gone. The calcinations process produces a lot of dust which is rich in iron oxide; this was recovered from 1920 onwards.

For further information and pictures of the Rosedale Mines
and tramway click

[Source: Roy Lambeth]

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