AN MP is calling for a mining museum to be given national status to mark 50 years since the last pit in Teesside closed.
Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, is lobbying for the Skinningrove Museum to be designated a national museum, similar to the National Railway Museum in York and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.
Speaking in the House of Commons, he argued that iconic structures such as the Sidney harbour bridge were smelted from iron ore, mined in Skinningrove during the era of illustrious industrialists including Henry Bolckow and Henry Pease.
He said: “January 17 marked the 50th anniversary of the closure of North Skelton iron stone mine in east Cleveland, the last iron stone mine in to close.
“There are 30 recorded names of men and boys who died at North Skelton pit, amongst the many more across the east Cleveland iron ore field.
“In their memory, therefore, could we have a debate on the topic of working East Cleveland's iron stone mining museum in Skinningrove into the United Kingdom's national iron stone mining museum?”
The Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum was founded in 1983 by a group of volunteers acutely aware that the remains of the ironstone mining industry, which had once formed the basis of Cleveland’s growth and prosperity, were quickly being lost or forgotten.
It was the discovery of the Main Seam of Cleveland Ironstone at Skinningrove in 1847 that unleashed the industrial potential of Teesside which lead to it producing one-third of UK iron output.
Following the debate in Westminster, Mr Blenskinsop added: “Ironstone mining built Teesside's industrial pre-eminence in Victorian years, and laid the foundation for today's steel industry - still a crucial part of our local economic base today"
"The mining museum in Skinningrove is valuable and unique repository of the industry, the pitmen and their communities,” he added.
“That is why I have asked the Leader of the House to mark this anniversary by designating the Skinningrove Museum as a 'national museum; similar to the National Railway Museum in York and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.
"This would allow for the museum trustees and committee to approach a far wider range of sponsors and funders, based as it could be, on a 'national' status."