Work is underway to create an exciting new interpretation of historic mining sites across the North York Moors. As part of the National Lottery funded project This Exploited Land of Iron, the mixture of interventions both out in the landscape and in local hubs and centres, will tell the story of one of the most industrial periods in the moors’ history.
Leach Studio has been appointed to lead the interpretive design for the scheme. The team is currently developing themes and concept designs which aim to map stories across this vast area. On completion in 2019, the project will provide an inter-connected network that visitors can explore, revealing the astonishing stories and scale of the mining industry that once dominated this landscape.
The focus of the core exhibition at the Moors National Park Centre in Danby will draw upon the history of the area from medieval smelting to the trailblazing Victorian railways. Visitors will be able to use digital maps, projected archive film and an interpretive play area for children, to learn about this chapter of the story and other places where the tale continues.
A multitude of other sites such as Grosmont Village, East Kilns and Rosedale Abbey’s iconic Bank Top will continue the industrial heritage exploration, with innovative interpretive solutions in the landscape set to include bespoke furniture and hands-on engagements.
At Grosmont iron works, for example, visitors will learn that the now leafy car park was once the site of a major industrial complex producing nearly 1,000 tonnes of pig iron a week. Elsewhere, at Ingleby Incline, interpretation explaining the story of ore-laden wagons being transported up and down the 1 in 5 gradient will provide a welcome break for walkers on the steep ascent.
Commenting on the project, our head of creative Nichola Ward said: “Ironstone mining and the Victorian industrialisation had a significant impact on this community and the surrounding landscape, so we’re telling this story on a huge, far-reaching scale.
“The challenge is that this heritage isn’t always very well known or even easy to uncover, as in many places nature has taken over since the decline of the industry in the last century. Our brief is therefore to create a range of design solutions that help different types of visitors understand, explore and uncover the astonishing moors for themselves.’
Tom Mutton, programme manager for This Exploited Land of Iron added: “Through community engagement programmes, research by local history groups and enthusiasts, and dialogue with the North York Moors National Park Authority, we’re building a rich picture of our landscape’s cultural and natural heritage. The solutions created by Leach Studio will leave a legacy for future visitors to help appreciate the incredible past of this landscape and will bring together the work carried out by all project partners.”
In March 2016, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £2.8 million for the project to be undertaken. This sum was co-supported by the North York Moors National Park Authority, David Ross Foundation and other partners, to bring the total project value to £3.8 million.