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Land of Iron, formerly Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum, was declared officially open by the Honourable Joanna Pease at a special event held at the museum on Friday 22nd September.

The museum reopened to the public in early 2023 following a £2.3 million redevelopment project. Thanks to the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund who invested £1.4 million of National Lottery players money, the Coastal Communities Fund, Tees Valley Combined Authority and private donors it is now set to bring expansion, employment and tourism to Skinningrove’s Iron Valley.

The Honourable Joanna Pease is the direct descendant of the Pease family of industrialists who took ownership of the Skinningrove and Loftus mine in 1865 and where the museum is situated today.

Originally opening in 1983 as the Tom Leonard Mining Museum it is fitting that Land of Iron’s official opening also celebrates the museum’s 40 year anniversary.

Initially entirely run by volunteers, Land of Iron now employs seven members of staff and, with its state-of-the art exhibition, mine tour, archives and education spaces, is now positioned to preserve and amplify the legacy of the area’s rich industrial traditions, as well as creating learning opportunities for communities near and far.

Guests at the opening included Sir Harry Wilmot, representing the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, the Mayor of Loftus Town Council and Redcar & Cleveland Councillor Barry Hunt, representatives of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Redcar & Cleveland councillors Tim Gray and Luke Myer, as well as trustees, staff, and volunteers from the museum.

When the museum was opened by Mrs. Elsie Leonard in 1983, the widow of the museum’s founder Tom Leonard, flowers were presented by a young Andrea Robinson. Still living locally, Andrea was invited to present flowers to the Honourable Joanna Pease after the commemorative plaque was unveiled.

Also attending the opening was Janette Holt who has been volunteering at the museum since its inception in 1983.

Marie Woods, Land of Iron’s Chief Executive, said:

“It was wonderful to welcome our distinguished guests, trustees, staff and volunteers to the museum today, not only to celebrate the official opening of Land of Iron, but also to mark our 40th anniversary.

I feel hugely privileged to be a part of this wonderful museum and working alongside a fantastic team.

At Land of Iron, we have a shared vision to create a place that would support the community and promote the identity and heritage of a past industry that was at the heart of East Cleveland.

Land of Iron reopened to the public in January, and following a generous grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are continuing to grow as a team and working hard to create a cultural and social hub that supports and serves our communities.

Redcar and Cleveland, its people and its stories are the heart of what we do and what we want to achieve for the future, and it was fantastic to see so many people here today who believe in us and support what we are doing.”

Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We’re incredibly proud that our support, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, has enabled the safeguarding of this important museum so that the unique ironstone heritage of Skinningrove is preserved for years to come. We know that heritage in the North can play a huge role in bringing people together and creating a sense of pride in people’s hometowns, and in turn boosting the local economy, and the work done here is a fantastic example of that.”