Chris Scott Wilson                   Writer                                             

©2010 C.J.S.Wilson

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     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

                                                            severe.

                                                                    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

                                                           day now.'

                                                                  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.

 

                                                                                           - o 0 o -

 

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