CAMPAIGNERS trying to buy a famous North-East landscape for the public have vowed to carry on despite a potentially devastating blow.

Lazenby Bank, a privately-owned area of the Eston Hills between Redcar and Guisborough, which includes some of most historically important sites in the entire region, is up for sale for £425,000.

Campaigners have raised £7,000 from ordinary members of the public in just three weeks, but now the owner’s agent has imposed a December 12 deadline for bids.

Craig Hornby, who is organising the campaign, said he had tracked down the owner, who lives “in a remote corner of County Durham,” and pushed a “begging letter” into his hand.

Now he is contacting major Teesside companies in an attempt to persuade them to pledge money so some kind of bid can be put on the table to save the hills for the public.

Mr Hornby, who won awards for his film A Century of Stone, about the Eston Hills, which were iron rich and helped fuel the industrial revolution, said ideas to create a visitor centre, a monument to fallen miners and a heritage trail, would not be dropped whatever happens.

He said: “Obviously £7,000 doesn’t put us on the page when it comes to a bid. But all the big companies on Teesside really owe their existence to those hills, even the chemical industry started as a by-product of the iron works. This is a chance to save the hills for the people of Teesside for all time.”

The 214-acre area of Lazenby Bank is being sold in eight lots. It includes the rocky plateau of Eston Nab, contains bronze age burial mounds, an Iron Age fort, the Grade II-listed remains of an ironstone mine and a Napoleonic War era beacon watch tower. To buy the Grade II-listed iron mine remains would cost £50,000 and Eston Nab, £80,000.

Whatever happens, money raised already will go to conservation projects on the hills and the campaign group will still try and build a memorial to the 375 men and boys who died in the mines.

The eight lots are being sold through George F White agents. James Carruthers, of George F White’s said no-one has so far expressed an interest in buying all the property together except for the campaign group. “We’re expecting flurry of interest,” he said.

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