Looking at Port Mulgrave today it is hard to imagine that it was once the heart of a thriving local mining industry, a village that bustled with state of the art industrial activity. During the early 19th Century the Staithes Iron Stone company first mined iron ore here in 1855. The company built cottages for the miners and built the now abandoned harbour to ship the ore to Jarrow in Tyne and Wear where it was used in shipbuilding.
In 1854 work began on the first tunnel and work on the harbour was started two years later. In the 1870s a more productive seam was found in Grinkle Park close to Easington Beck and although the Port Mulgrave mine was gradually abandoned the harbour continued to be used until 1917 when they were connected to the Middlesbrough to Whitby railway line. Even though, at this time, the port was still in good condition the Royal Engineers demolished the breakwater in order to prevent any German invasion force effecting a landing during World War Two.
After that, erosion and neglect took their toll and allowed it to revert to nature.
It is famous for being one of the most popular Jurassic sites in the UK with the coastline between neighbouring Staithes and Port Mulgrave having a plentiful supply of fossils, dinosaur species, reptile remains and more. It is a site of special scientific interest and is reputed to be one of the best locations for collecting fossils in the UK.
Today very little evidence survives of the once busy port and the site is now looked after and protected by the National Trust. As with many of the small fishing villages along the coastline here the small inshore fishing community and fleet that used to fish from here, primarily for crab and lobster, whilst always relatively small, has dwindled, and may have now even ended completely.
All that seems to remain of the Port Mulgrave fishing community are the old fisherman’s huts slowly succumbing to the elements and the remnants of boats that, in the main, sit in unhappy disrepair at the bottom of the cliff.