The museum provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the workers and the social history of the area catering for the local community, visiting tourists and school trips. However, due to severe weather conditions in 2018, the old brick vaulted roof of the upcast building collapsed and the museum was closed.
The unfortunate event brought the museum’s staff together in an extraordinary effort to plan, design, and fundraise for a new extended building in order to continue its legacy for future generations of visitors.
British Steel, which has a Special Profiles plant within a mile of the museum, heard of the efforts of the team and generously donated the materials for all of the heavy steel sections as part of the project that contractor Tolent is carrying out.
British Steel’s Special Profiles Plant Manager, David Hogg, said: “We’re planning the biggest investment in more than 30 years at our Skinningrove site and while we’re focused on building an exciting new future for our business and the local community, we’re incredibly proud of this region’s rich iron and steelmaking heritage. That is why we’re delighted to support this superb project and see the new building taking shape with steel rolled at our Teesside Beam Mill at Lackenby.”
Tolent was awarded the £1.3m project in October to refurbish the existing building and construct a new three-storey extension, which will link to the old buildings and allow the museum space to be more accessible.
The new space will house state-of-the-art display space, archive storage, dedicated educational areas, and designer office space for the staff.
The museum will also develop new displays, three temporary exhibitions, and a whole year of exciting activities when the museum reopens.
Graham Banwell, Director of Operations at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum said: “We are very grateful to British Steel for this generous donation. It strengthens the long, historical link between Loftus Mine, now the museum, and Skinningrove steel works across the valley.”
Rick Halton, regional director for Tolent, remarked: “I was interested in this project right from tender stage as my father worked in the mine for many years. I still live locally and am witness to the museum’s vital role in the area and its wider regeneration plans.”
“I was keen to win this project and struck up a good relationship with the client during our visit, sharing many recollections of Skinningrove during the mine’s operational days. As a business with operations in Teesside and East Cleveland spanning 40 years, I wanted to be able to contribute to something that is important and with such local significance.”
“We have also been able to employ local people to work on the project in conjunction with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council’s social value commitments to employ a local workforce.”
Tolent has already completed the ground floor slab works, underground drainage and the structural steel works.
Works have been carefully carried out to avoid damage to the existing mine and sub-structures, utilising screw piles to minimise vibration and retain some original parts of the structures to ensure they remain undisturbed.
The project is due to complete in summer 2022, with the museum reopening in the autumn, after the installation of an exciting new interpretation.