Roseberry also became known during the 19th century for the Trinity Sunday Fair held on the first slopes. It is thought to have been started by the ‘old Gag’ Mally Wright. She served the community, assisting with rites of passage, both at the beginning and the end of the journey. As a midwife she brought children into the world, then later attended the death bed, laying out for burial. It is said some of the older locals whispered she had ‘tied up t’jaws of t’dying afore tha wur deead.’ On Trinity Sunday, however, her role was more jovial. She set up stall selling brandy snaps and home-brewed ale. Her success brought other vendors until the fair swelled to a regular event.
Attempts were made by the authorities during the mid century (1840-1850) to halt the fair which had become unruly, but after a quiet period it was revived. Richard Blakeborough observed toward the 1890's that many people had started to travel from Teesside and ‘cram into one short Sabbath about as much ungodliness as it is possible to conceive.’ The Rev. Tugman, vicar of Newton-under-Roseberry took up the banner in a bid to halt the revelry. His success is evident as the fair has since died out.
Geological surveys show Roseberry is rich in alum shale and iron ore, and it is also known jet had been worked. Ord writing in 1846 complained Roseberry's cone had ‘diminished of late years. owing to barbarous irruptions of certain Visigoths’ (5th century vandals). He refers to sandstone quarrying. Only four years later in 1850 John Vaughan discovered ironstone in the Cleveland Hills at Eston and it was soon discovered the seam ran throughout the whole range.
Businessmen turned their gaze to
Roseberry as a larder from which to
feed Teesside's hungry blast furnaces.
In 1880 the Roseberry Ironstone
Company opened the main seam on the
south side of the hill, production
spanning three years. Later the Tees
Furnace Co. reopened the workings
before being superseded by Burton &
Sons from 1906-1926, who employed up
to 200 men during peak production.
The first radical alteration of
Roseberry's face took place on the night
of 8th/9th August 1912 when a large
section of the south-west slope
collapsed in an avalanche of tumbling
rock. Overnight, the conical hill had
become a jagged peak. Inevitably
accusations were levelled at the mining
company, whose drives had honey-
combed the hill. Just as inevitably, Mr.
Burton (of Burton & Sons) denied the
charge. Ten years later another
landslide occurred, though not as
Geologists have since learned
Roseberry Topping is criss-crossed by
faults and fissures just below the
surface, so it seems probable landslips
would occur whether or not the mines
had been operated. And the problem is
accelerating today. The many tourists
and ramblers unknowingly wear away
the meagre topsoil. Alan Falconer, the
local author, was quoted in 1979 as
saying the peak 'could slip away any
It hasn’t. At least at the time of
writing. Let us hope it doesn’t.
Roseberry Topping occupies a tender
place in many Clevelanders' hearts.
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