From the 4th to the 24th May, the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum will host a range of interactive activities to mark the War Years of World War II. The May Bank Holiday weekend has been chosen as the launch to the Skinningrove at War event as it is the closest weekend to Victory in Europe day (VE day), which is on the Wednesday 8th May. This is the first time in the museums 30 year-history that the tour will focus on World War II and not solely on the early years of Ironstone mining – in the Victorian era. These activities are part of the Skinningrove Educational Heritage Project which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Visitors will have the chance to discover what life was like in Cleveland during the war; 100 years after the mine opened. They will learn more about the vital role of the Skinningrove valley in the war effort, take shelter in the North Drift during an ‘air raid’, ‘witness’ 1940s blasting procedure, hear about the impact of bombs in the area, enabling them to get a real feel for what daily life must have been like during one of the most devastating conflicts in our history.
During the bank holiday weekend the Museum will have additional activities on offer. The normal Saturday opening will be extended to open at 10am.
Also from 11am on both Saturday 4th and Monday 6th May the Aycliffe and District Bus Preservation Society will be offering free tours on their vintage ‘Aidensfield’ bus, which featured in the original series of Heartbeat. This 1949 single decker bus will do 20-30 minute tours, throughout the day, of the local villages giving a real war time feel as those on board can join in a sing-a-long of contemporary songs led by the Community Animateurs. Children can also make their own commemorative crafts before boarding to add to their bus experience. When the bus is not touring it will be available for visitors to explore in the Museum car park. Donations will be welcomed from visitors who join in the activities.
There will also be the opportunity of joining a guided walk from the Museum, led by members of the Skinningrove History Group at 1.30pm on both Saturday 4th and Monday 6th May, to explore the war time history of the village. The walks are offered free of charge, but any offers of donations would be gratefully welcomed.
Jean, the Museum’s Education Officer, said: “It has been exciting developing the new Skinningrove at War tour at the museum. Over the past 30 years the whole experience of the Museum has been focused on the early years of mining in Victorian times. I hope both new and past visitors will take the opportunity to visit and experience how ironstone mining was undertaken at that time. Hopefully they will leave appreciating the vital role of not only the mine – and the discomforts this offered as an air raid shelter, but the industry of the whole Skinningrove valley during those turbulent years.”
Anyone interested in events who would like further information should contact Jean Banwell, the education officer on 01287 642877 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . She would be happy to add any email addresses to a mailing list to keep people up to date with events and activities at the Museum.