A community group on Teesside called the Friends of Eston Hills celebrated with champagne and picnic’s today as they enjoyed the warm weather on the rocky summit of Eston Nab, the summit of the Eston hills after being successful in their bid to buy this part of the hill.
The Eston hills overlook the outskirts of Middlesbrough in Cleveland. The historic landmark includes sites dating back to the bronze and iron ages. It was the site of a beacon during Napoleonic times to warn of attacks and below it in more recent history was the world’s largest iron mine with some of the steel produced with the iron-ore from this mine used in the building of the Sydney Harbour bridge.
The group came about when Rita Richardson from Grangetown heard rumours in September 2013 that part of the hills were being sold off. She then got together with three of her friends who live in Eston – Lyn Hewling, Glynis Mahon and Maggie Gavaghan to form the group where its popularity quickly spread via Facebook.
The area reported to be up for sale was Lazenby Bank, a 214 acre site on Eston hills that was once part of the Wilton Castle estate. It was put up on the market by the owner in September last year for £425K. One of the many people who joined the group was Eston-born Craig Hornby who now lives in Saltburn. Craig spent a lot of time looking into the details and legalities of the potential sale when the idea came to them to try and buy it for themselves!
Craig, who became chairman of the group went and tracked down the County Durham-based land owner of the hills and spoke to him asking him not to sell to anyone just yet – to give them an opportunity to raise some funds through donations. The campaign picked up pace and hundreds of online donations started to pour in- they made £2000 in donations on the first day. People held many sponsored events and further generous public donations started to come in as they tried to increase the funds and by December £15,000 had been raised. Even though this was not enough to buy any of the eight lots that the area for sale had been broken down into a bid for one of the lots – Lot 1 – the eastern half of Eston Nab and 45 acres of wooded hillside priced at £80k was put in.
Their passion for the area and the commitment to the heritage and welfare of the hills impressed the land-owner which resulted in him offering them the chance to buy just the summit of the hills and after three months of legal process – with the legal fees waived by their lawyers – the sale has gone ahead and the group has now purchased the Nab on behalf of the people and from now on it will be kept in public ownership for the first time in hundreds of years.
Today the group and its supporters gathered on Eston Nab to celebrate their success. There are now plans being made to continue the campaign in order to raise more funds and subsequently create a heritage trail, to mount a clean-up on the site to remove litter and graffiti and also to create a memorial to the 375 miners who died when the iron mine was in operation under the hill.
the plaque on the monument on the summit of the Eston Hills
The view over Teesside from Eston Nab
The monument on the summit of the hills and site of the former beacon tower
A man goes for a run along the edge of Eston Nab
Visitors to the monument arrive to celebrate their purchase of the land
A family waves to Teesside from the top of the Nab
A woman walks along the edge of Eston Nab as she looks over towards Teesside
A couple enjoy the view
SOLD – to the people for all time
Craig Hornby stands next to the monument
Sister Gillian Halliday (L) and Kendra Mackenzie-Harerson sit in a tent on top of the Nab.
Taking in the views
A young boy stands and looks out over Teesside below him
One of the founder members of FOEH Maggie Gavaghan rings a bell as she arrives at the summit