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Last Updated: Monday, 26 April, 2004, 19:48 GMT 20:48 UK
Town welcomes home mining heritage
By Lynn Crombie
BBC News Online

Two ironstone pillars which stood as a symbol of Teesside's mining heritage have been returned to their original home.

The first pillar is placed at the gates of the former Eston hospital

People of all ages turned out for the ceremony on Sunday in Eston to watch as the last two symbols of their mining heritage were brought home.

The two-metre high pillars each weighing 2.5 tonnes were the largest pieces of ironstone to be taken from Eston ironstone mine which operated from 1850 to 1949.

The pillars stood for more than 100 years outside Eston hospital, which was demolished in 1980.

They were then moved to the town hall, in Fabian Road, where they had stood before finally being returned to the site of the former hospital.

The hospital was built for ironstone workers who paid a penny a week from their wages for its upkeep.

The coming home marks the end of a long campaign by Eston Residents' Association to have the pillars returned.

In keeping with mining tradition, South Bank Brass Band played as the pillars moved slowly along the road into sight.

The pillars should never have been moved but it is fantastic they have at last been brought back to their rightful place
Frances Blott

Among those who turned out to watch the event was Thomas William Kerrison, 96, who is the oldest surviving Eston miner.

He told BBC News Online: "It was a day I didn't think I would ever see.

"It is great they are coming back to the site of the hospital because I remember being treated in the hospital for a serious illness many years ago.

"I still live in Eston so it will be marvellous to see them every day."

Tears shed

Ironstone was discovered in the Eston Hills around 1850 and several drift mines were opened, marking the beginning of the iron and steel industry that shaped Teesside.

Frances Blott, who has many relatives who worked in the mines, said it was an emotional day for everyone associated with the industry.

She said: "I have shed a few tears today.

"The pillars should never have been moved but it is fantastic they have at last been brought back to their rightful place. It is part of our history.

"I can now walk past them every day - and I will blow them a kiss."

People from Eston celebrate the long-awaited return of their mining heritage
Two brass plaques are being made to be placed on the sides of the pillars - with the words 'Eston Mines' on one side, and on the other 'Cleveland Ironstone'.

Councillor Ann Higgins from Eston Residents' Association has led the campaign to have the pillars returned.

She paid tribute to everyone who has helped bring the pillars back where they belong.

"It is a great day and everyone has worked so hard to see this happen and they look beautiful here.

"They are a commemoration of our heritage."

In pictures: History returns home
26 Apr 04  |  Photo Gallery

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