A CAMPAIGN has been launched to take a famous North-East landscape into public ownership.
The area contains bronze age burial mounds dating to 4,000BC, Grade II-listed remains of an ironstone mine building known locally as SS Castle, and a beacon watchtower designed to warn of French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars.
Loading article content
A Facebook campaign to put pressure on Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council to buy the land has already gained 2,500 members.
Leader of the council, George Dunning, deputy leader, deputy leader Sheelagh Clarke and chief executive Amanda Skelton discussed the issue earlier today (Tuesday, September 24) and a report of various options will be examined.
Coun Dunning said: “The current Government’s drive is for councils to actually sell assets, not buy them, but we’ll look at all the options available to us, including things like match funding.
"We always take on board residents’ views and there is clearly a lot of feeling about this issue.”
Local historian, Craig Hornby, a member of the Facebook campaign group, said the area, which is designated a Site of Nature Conservation Interest and which adjoins an Iron Age hill fort dating from 700BC, was owned by the Lowther family from the early 19th century.
It was bought by ICI in 1945 before being sold to private landowners in the late 1990s.
Iron was found in the hills in 1850 and led to one of the great industrial projects of the entire Industrial Revolution.
Mr Hornby, who has made an acclaimed documentary about the iron-rich Eston Hills called A Century in Stone, said: “In terms of archaeology, industrial history, nature conservation and recreational amenity, this is an absolute jewel.
"These hills are so loved by people across Teesside. I know the council has been hit by the savage Government cuts but they should be moving a mountain, pun intended, to find a way to acquire this site.”
James Carruthers, of property agents George F White, which is selling the land on a behalf of a client, said it had been listed for sale for about two weeks and is divided into eight lots.
So far there has been interest from people interested in acquiring their own private woodland.