Thursday, 10 December 2009

IRON AWE - The beginning

In 2003 a group of volunteers from East Cleveland, (ironstone mining country) took several bags of “old stuff” into old people's homes and collected stories, they then took the stories and “old stuff” into schools – Iron Awe was born.

Our community work atracted funding and we started using film and music to tell the stories, the award winning film The Accident, was followed by the epic film Demonstration Day; we have continued our community work and are now planning our biggest project yet.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A snippet of Tippett 2

Last night the Iron Awe team, together with people from Boosbeck and East Cleveland, spent a second evening in The Station Hotel, again singing songs from Michael Tippett's first opera Robin Hood, this time the event was recorded by BBC Radio 3*

We hope this will attract the support and funding necessary to make a new version of the Robin Hood opera, and make a film of the Heartbreak Hill story. *BBC Radio 3, 12-15pm Saturday November 28th, Reviving Robin

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A snippet of Tippett 1

The Iron Awe team have started telling the story of Heartbreak Hill. Part of the story involves Sir Michael Tippett's first opera Robin Hood, with music that has not been heard for over seventy years.
God bless our valiant Robin Hood
And may he never swing,
Who fights the battles for the poor;
The outlaw shall be King.

Last night I sat in the Station Hotel Boosbeck with some of the Iron Awe team and local people, we were singing songs written in 1934 for the out of work ironstone miners of Boosbeck and their families, with the keyboard player reading music in Tippetts own hand, and playing it for the first time in seventy-five years.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Iron Masks

Skinningrove 2003. Saltburn artist Andy Broderick and local young people use driftwood and ocre (ironstone waste) to make masks.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Jez Lowe Fans (aren't we all?)

I thought I would write a story for all the Jez Lowe fans that have stumbled across this blog and found a song by Jez they haven’t heard before. The director of the film Demonstration Day, Neil Scarth, was friendly with Jez, and asked him to write the film’s theme song. Jez was not familiar with East Cleveland towns and had originally written, “In every town from Skelton to Brotton” I pointed out to Neil that Brotton was only about a mile from Skelton, and “Eston to Brotton” would sound better, so when I am being mischievous I tell people I am a co-writer of Cleveland Iron. One of my photographs shows one of the young stars being interviewed by Luke Casey, a reporter from the local news programme Look North. At that time the show's presenter Mike Neville and weatherman Bob Johnson used to do a bit of a double act, so at the end of Luke’s film Mike said to Bob “that’s the way to teach kids history” and as every Jez Lowe fan should know, "If Mike Neville said it then it must be true."

Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies at the premiere of Demonstration Day. Middlesbrough Town Hall. 15th September 2004

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Big Debate

In 2004 I was given a book of ironstone mining rules, it had been found in the mine managers house at the old Whitecliffe mine. The first rule read "After the 1st July 1861, it shall not be lawful for the owner of any mine or colliery, to employ any male person under the age of twelve years. A boy above the age of ten years and under the age of twelve years, may be employed in a mine or colliery upon either of the following conditions, that is to say:- that before any such boy is so employed the owner of the mine shall,obtain a certificate under the hand of a competent schoolmaster that such a boy is able to read and write; Or, That the owner shall obtain a certificate under the hand of a competent schoolmaster that such a boy has attended school for not less than three hours a day for two days in each week."

In 2005 I became a volunteer at the Ryedale Folk Museum and with the help of Leavening Primary School, we used the above rule to help us make a film about trappy lads going to school. The film can be seen on the Ryedale Folk Museum website;

Photographs from the film

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Accident

In 2003 we worked with 20 children from Hummersea Primary School, Loftus and made a film called The Accident, the film was based on one of the stories from the East Cleveland Memories project,about hero "Abe." The film won the Roots and Wings award, the award was presented to us in The Royal Society of Arts building in London by Estelle Morris M.P. Minister for the Arts and by Loyd Grossman.

Photos from the film, premiere and the award.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

East Cleveland Memories

In 2001 I was one of five volunteers who started an oral history group called East Cleveland Memories. We recorded stories of local people, and with the help of a local museum and a Newcastle based group called Tomorrow's History, we put some of these stories on the Internet. With the help of a printer from the local church, we published 300 hundred books.

Hear some of the stories on the Tomorrow's History website;

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Demonstration Day

In 1847 ironstone was discovered in Cleveland, and men came to work in the mines from all over Britain. Because of their different accents and cultures many of the men didn't get on, they found it difficult to unite and ask the mine owners for better conditions. In 1872, with the help of Joseph Shepherd, the men started the Cleveland Ironstone Miners Union and held their first Demonstration (gala) day, on the first of May that year. In 2004 a group of volunteers, including 350 children and young people from the Loftus area, made a film about events leading up to, and including the Cleveland ironstone miners first Demonstration Day.
Hummersea - Loftus Juniors - St. Josephs - Whitecliffe - Schools
Freebrough College (Rosecroft) - Banners
Lockwood Primary School - Sword Dancing
Neil Scarth - Ben Moore - Film Makers
Mick Benson - Volunteer Storyteller - Executive Producer

Eighty photographs and music from the film.
(1) Cleveland Iron By Jez Lowe.
(2) The Lord Is My Shepherd by Cleveland Police Brass Band.
(3) Sixteen Tons by Radical Mass and Frigile Minds.