Moorsholm is a small village which was listed in the Domesday book of 1086. It’s name is thought to be of Viking origin and means a moors settlement. It was designed as a classic mediaeval village with a long main street and houses and farms on both sides.
It has a long history of farming with families and descendants going back hundreds of years. Because of its location it also became involved in the local ironstone industry which started when ironstone was discovered in Skinningrove a small village on the coast not far from Moorsholm in 1847. The iron ore was transported by rail and by sea to the blast furnaces on the River Tyne and Teesside.
This resulted in nearly a hundred small mines being built in the Cleveland and Esk Valley areas. A mine was also built just a few miles from Moorsholm at Lingdale. This was built in 1873 and Moorsholm villagers worked there as they could take a “short cut” to work by walking down into the Hagg Wood valley and up the other side to Stanghow and across the fields to the mine which was in the centre of Lingdale.
The shortcut would have been a couple of miles and probably 12 hours down the mine before taking the same route back to Moorsholm village. It is hard to understand in this day and age how demanding this working day would have been plus the fact that mining was an arduous business and in the 19th century living to middle age would have been an achievement .
The Moorsholm miners did have an advantage in that they had the Plough pub in this small village but it must have been a noisy environment for the locals as they drank got drunk and started fighting. So how do we know this?
Well our house built in 1850 is just a 100 yards or so from the pub and it used to be the village police station. In our cellar is a room that is now the utility room and had previously been the jail. Drunk and disorderly must have been a regular activity in our small village to justify having its own police station and jail !!!
Between the 1940’s and 1960’s most of the small mines closed down because the ironstone had been worked out and the local mine Lingdale closed in1962. A legacy from the mining industry is found locally in Moorsholm, Lingdale and Skelton and other areas throughout Cleveland. It also occurs in Newcastle in Northumberland and Barnsley in South Yorkshire and probably many other areas linked to mining and that is allotments.
Miners were passionate about outdoor work after being down a mine for 12 hours or more and certainly in the North they were very competitive. In Barnsley they competed against each other in local shows for who had the biggest and best onions. In Newcastle they had a similar passion for the biggest leeks. In other areas it was huge pumpkins.
As you can see from the photo above Moorsholm also has a tradition of allotments which still continues. Competing in the local show in the summer occurs with some top quality flowers and vegetables.
During the 1860-1900 mining boom there was also rapid expansion of the railways network and a “grand” hotel was built at the top end of Moorsholm to cater for the expected trade and the resulting social and economic benefits from the proposed Cleveland Extension Mineral railway.
Unfortunately the railway was never completed but some evidence of cuttings, embankments and cast iron and brick culverts can still be found around the village.Sadly the Station Hotel was eventually demolished in 1989 due to lack of use.
Since the 1960’s the village has kept its farming traditions but the community now has a wide range of trades and professions and a very active community spirit.
On the outskirts of the village we have one of natures rare creations and that is a conical hill. If you are new to the area you would think it was man made but Freebrough Hill was created in the glacial age with the soft stone in the area being carried away by the glacier to the sea and the hard stone being left as a hill.
It is geologically known as an Oolitic cap or Glacial node. It has been suggested that it had some spiritual or religious significance for pre Iron Age people and even that it had been dedicated to a Norse goddess due to the Viking link with Moorsholm.
A Heritage Trail Guide has been created for visitors from the Yellow Book
to guide them through the village