Report - - Grinkle Ironstone Mine, February-May 2015 | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Grinkle Ironstone Mine, February-May 2015


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
There are some places in life that get under your skin and nag away at you insistently until you go back and explore some more. Grinkle Mine is one of those places for me: whilst I'm sticking this report up now, I have no doubt that I'll be back there before too much longer, especially as I found some nice new areas to explore last night!


This is a report based on Grinkle Ironstone Mine (incorporating part of the mine, the two culverts, Ridge Lane tramway tunnel and some other stuff) but it's a case of "too late sunshine" for the gnarliest parts of the culvert in particular (more later but parts of the culvert have gone for good). Others have been here before me and produced some stunning images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/sets/72157622622329330/?detail=1
but let this be a lesson to anyone who visits a place over a period of time then thinks, "I'll save that bit for another day" .... I did the same, went back a couple of nights ago and found a hole in the ground that you could literally bury a 747 in. Grrrrrr.


Grinkle Mine was established in a steep-sided valley near Staithes in North Yorkshire after a proving drift found the Cleveland ironstone seam deep in the valley. Due to the terrain the valley (and the fact that the confluence of the Easington and Twizziegill becks is found in the valley bottom), the two streams were culverted and millions of tonnes of mine spoil from local ironstone mines was used to fill in the valley bottom, providing a level plateau some seventy feet above the old floor for the buildings etc.

Opened in the 1880s with production starting in 1882, Grinkle was part of a much larger infrastructure, being linked to the harbour at Port Mulgrave via a tramway which left the mine, headed south under Ridge Lane through a tunnel then around to Dalehouse on a raised embankment before entering a final tunnel which exited in the cliff edge at Mulgrave onto an old iron jetty to serve the Jarrow ore boats. Later in the mine's life, an incline was built to link the mine directly to the standard gauge W&MR track to ship the ore to Middlesbrough.

The culvert caused innumerable issues during the mine's lifetime, with a major collapse in 1927 causing widespread flooding in the mine and necessitating much reinforcement with iron props (now almost all gone ... *sob*).

Some 50 years and 22 fatalities later, Grinkle closed and has been left to the ravages of time ever since. More huge collapses of the Easington Beck culvert occurred (some very recently) and now there is a huge engineering project going on to repair the culvert, necessitating the excavation down from the surface and leaving an enormous hole in the ground: SES Contracting have the job of repairing the culvert to prevent flooding due to culvert blockages (there was going to be a link here but their site appears to be down at the moment).

There are footpaths criss-crossing the site (some of which are now closed as a result of the culvert repairs) and access to the site is ridiculously simple - one thing to watch is the water level .... the day after heavy rains, the water level inside the culvert is markedly higher than in dry weather and this can have a huge impact on your ability to explore properly.


Easington Beck runs roughly west-east in the valley bottom, being culverted for its path under the mine site. Twizziegill Beck joins from the north-north-west and is also culverted before it joins Easington Beck, 70 yards inside the west portal. The east portal extends out from the mine spoil a few yards, where a further drift/trial entrance can be found. From the mine site, the course of the old tramway runs east then crosses the river over an embankment before entering the Ridge Lane tunnel, running NW-SE. In the old mine site is a drift entrance, heading west into the old mine workings (locked/barred and with a GAS warning sign outside). Back in February, the mine site looked like this:


The collapse of the spoil into the culvert is obvious. The tower in the background is one of the winding towers for the Boulby potash mine (now owned by ICL). This entire area is now obliterated by a gigantic hole, easily big enough to fit a 747 in, descending down in layers to the culvert bottom. I had no idea about this until I walked up through the east portal a few nights ago and was suddenly met by what looked like an open-cast mine. Didn't have the camera either as I'd left it behind, thinking I was in for some belly-crawling through the gnarliest sections of the culvert .....

Right, on with the photos.

The culvert

The east portal is the part you usually spot on a casual stroll through the mine site, being easily visible from the course of the old tramway which now forms the footpath. On closer inspection, it's a fine brick structure that brings Easington Beck back out into daylight after its journey through the gloom.


Culvert portal on the right in this photo; an old mine entrance/exit on the left (more on this later). Water levels were low at this point (March 2015) so access into the culvert was particularly easy.


In we go ..... a mixture of brick and stonework (with some wooden props for reinforcement where certain blocks have gone AWOL).


The water sounds incredibly loud in here, even when levels are low. Rounding the bend in the culvert used to just lead to more brick and stonework, but not any more:


Massive reinforcement of a weak section has taken place. You can still see the original ironwork from the 1927 repairs ahead, with further collapse visible in the gloom.


When I last visited here in March, I promised myself a return visit with all my camera gear in a dry bag and some decent waterpoof clothing on for the inevitable belly-crawl through the original part of the culvert. As it turns out, I didn't get back in time. Standing in this spot now would leave you in the fresh air, as the next forty metre of culvert have been dug out in a monstrous example of civil engineering. RIP Grinkle Culvert. After the al-fresco section, the culvert is now totally blocked by trees etc so access into the rest of the culvert from the east is impossible. Time to retreat.


Handy markers on the wall let you know how far it is back to the east portal.

From the east portal, it used to be an easy stroll through the old mine site to the west portal where Easington Beck begins its subterranean journey. Not possible with the current state of affairs but no problem when I visited in February and March.

The west portal is barred to stop rubbish getting into the culvert and blocking it: it's only been marginally successful and there has been a huge collapse above the portal in the past:


This area has received some serious work from the contractors since this photo was taken and enormous quantities of shale and silt have been removed to level the river bed to that inside the culvert.

Finding your way in from this side used to be a bit tricky without getting drenched but now it's easy:


This is as far into the west side as I've managed so far. The level of the floor drops substantially beyond the trees and rubbish (the Twizziegill culvert comes in on the left immediately after the obstruction) and I didn't feel confident in being able to get back up again if I made my way over the blockage and down into the rest of the culvert. Discretion being the best part of valour, I headed back out, intending to access the rest of the culvert from Twizziegill Beck (more later).

Two shots of the culvert heading back out to the west portal:



The geology in here is fascinating, as the bedrock seems to shift subtly as you head back out.

Twizziegill Culvert

I had seen this entrance on a previous recce of the area but hadn't put two and two together to realise that it ran all the way into the Easington Beck culvert. It's a bit of a squeeze and necessitates crawling for the first ten or fifteen metres (getting very wet as a result) until it opens up a touch and you can crouch:


Entrance shot above.


This is where my efforts to join the main culvert were scuppered once more. The Twizziegill culvert gets VERY low ahead and would need me to belly-crawl through an unknown distance (probably no more than thirty metres or so) to join Easington Beck. Didn't fancy it in a nicely absorbent hoodie last night so will leave it for another time (famous last words).

On the way back out, I explored the start of a cutting that heads off away from the culvert and must have been some sort of ventilation tunnel (complete with original 1880s air door):


This may well have been a drainage tunnel as well as a ventilation tunnel, judging by the ochrous water pouring out of it. I tried to get in a decent position to get a shot up the tunnel past the tree roots and timberwork guarding the entrance:


Again, I intend to come back here with more appropriate clothing and my gas detector and have a wee look up this one (I have a sneaking suspicion it leads eventually into the north drift, the entrance to which is currently locked). Next time .....

The north drift entrance looks promising but is securely locked and chained - a board outside warns of gas.


From here, it's back along to the east portal and a quick explore in the drift/adit/level that is just across Easington Beck.

The South Drift

I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of this short section was: there are two chambers leading off from the entrance and both seem to have suffered catastrophic collapses at some point.


You can just see the original roof timbers in the bottom third of this shot. The rock here that has fallen is very very soft and crumbles in the hand.

At this point you are about ten metres or so from the entrance and that's as far as you can get:


Not having my full range of camera gear with me (ND filters and the like), I couldn't get a decent shot of this where I could get the stream correctly exposed too (without having to resort to HDAaaaaaargh) - maybe one to try at a future date.

The post in this shot has some rope tied around it - what it could be used for is anyone's guess ... I don't think it's original.


There has been a stack of roof supports in here at one time as the beautifully-chiselled holes in the rock demonstrate (some complete with iron shims):




That pretty much covers everything that I've explored in the actual mine site itself to date. The next bit is Ridge Lane Tunnel which I guess should really go in a different section as a separate report, but for the sake of completeness, it's going in here.

Ridge Lane Tunnel

The best way to do this is walk in to the southern portal from Dalehouse and appreciate the work that went into the sweeping embankment that once carried the tramway towards Port Mulgrave. Eventually, you come to the portal itself (a soggy, boggy and muddy place):


Once in (and if you're careful not to disturb the silt), you're faced with sights like these:


The calcification up ahead is just beautiful:


I could seriously stay here for hours just gawping, but that doesn't get you down the 400 yards that stand between you and the north portal.


It wouldn't be a proper tunnel without refuges, would it?


This part of the tunnel is starting to show some wear, even in the short period between my several visits: the water ingress has increased and there is some buckling and fracturing in the brickwork. A real shame as this tunnel is in such good condition otherwise.

In the northern half of the tunnel, the original sleepers are still in place. Even some of the retainers are still there to hold the rails in, even if the rails themselves were salvaged long ago ....



In one of the many refuges, there lies an old iron bolt .... its function long since forgotten as it's slowly rusted in the darkness over the last eighty years.


And then you're out in the fresh air - I'd show you a shot of the outside but I'm limited to thirty shots apparently. Perhaps a separate report at another time?

Thanks for reading.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Hell of a report. Some nice back story too! Shame some of this is deteriorating so much now it looks a hell of an explore.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Great stuff there superbly photographed too. I did the mine entrance that is now sealed many years ago the one with the gas warning sign we got about 100 yards in then gave up due to the muddy conditions and strong smell of gas. I think there is a connection from that drift into Easington beck culvert. I have some pics of the drift see if I can dig them out and scan them problem is my old scanner may not recognise my new computer.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Great stuff there superbly photographed too. I did the mine entrance that is now sealed many years ago the one with the gas warning sign we got about 100 yards in then gave up due to the muddy conditions and strong smell of gas. I think there is a connection from that drift into Easington beck culvert. I have some pics of the drift see if I can dig them out and scan them problem is my old scanner may not recognise my new computer.
Cheers @dave . I think there's a way into the North Drift through the Twizziegill air cut but I need to man up to crawl up there: the air has the potential to be bad! Would love to see any photos you've got if you can get the scanner to play.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Had more of a in depth look at your pics that air door in the Twizziegill culvert was the one we encountered and the door was intact then, it appears to have deteriorated badly since. We were sure that it does lead into the main drift. Things have changed dramatically since my visits in the late 80s early 90s I seem to remember reading somewhere that a collapse could easily happen at anytime regards Easington beck culvert and boy it hasn't disappointed. I have found my pics so must get the scanner going. Incidentally there is a superb booklet on this area by the late John Owen covers all the history etc its available through the Cleveland Industrial Archaeology Society if you havnt read it would advise you to, I,m a member of that society btw. I must say many thanks for posting this update its brought back happy memories for me as this was one of my favourite stomping grounds.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Loving these matey :thumb

Looks like i should have contacted you before i went down, could have buddied up ;)

The first culvert exit you"ve shown was recently i pretty deep water as the contractors have dammed up the beck forming a small lake now for some reason, which was deeper than my whellies so i didn"t bother entering the brick formed culvert. and yes the noise coming down this is quite impressive especially considering the output flow. Whether this was just noise amplification or a drop of water level ?

I had been informed by a local Farmer i had spoken to before i did Ridge Lane tunnel (love the deposits on the floor in here BTW) that the old culvert had actually collapsed, and Boulby Mine were spending mega £"s replacing the culvert (well some sections at least) hence the mini Gold mine quarry you mention inside the Arriss fenced exclusion zone complete with Secca (when i called) i"ve got some pics i"ll add one in if i can find it.

The blockage you reached is actually very safe & substantial, just made more un-nerving again to the noise generated as the water level drops down. i progressed about halfway down towards daylight which is where the new workinf=gs have exposed the culvert and again what sounds like an impressive drop in water level (probably not again:) But the quicksand was getting progressively deeper and harder to extract my legs so as i was solo i decided to reverse :) TBH i could have done with some ear plugs in there with the noise.

Did you notice the metal mooring bollard at the junction with the left spur? i was surprised to see that, so obviously somethings been moored in the culvert before for transportation of something?

Lets face it the whole area round there is riddled with mines & tunnels, so much so you don"t need to leave the region for risky explores. i must admit i was ignorant of the whole Ironstone industry and it"s been a real eye opener finding out about the whole industry. Plus the explores obviously ....give or take the odd one :eek:

Mostly not solo orientated though i feel in hindsight :coat

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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Nice shot of the devastation! Got the shock of my life when I peeped out of that portal you can see there and realised what had gone on. Did Mr Blue Shirt secca spot you here?


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I walked straight past him in his cabin & took my pics, went down to the mine area then did the culvert then thought i"d be clever & walk the opposite direction for some reason ? unable to get out of the valley an hour later & barely able to walk anymore in my wellies :wanker & i was back with Mr Secca, who i could see in his cabin, i just walked up to his cabin & just moved the Arris off the side of his hut blocking my way & walked off. Not like he could do anything & I was too f@cked to care. I"m sure Snails were passing me by this time anyway lol


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Hahahahahaha, brilliant! If you leep going up through the valley away from the west portal, you eventually end up at Easington Tunnel (that's a live one used by the Potash mine for freight). Read a report somewhere of a guy who went through it (on a non-freight day, mind you).
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