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Tolent celebrates handover of the iconic Land of Iron site

North East based contractor, Tolent has completed refurbishment works and constructed a new three-storey extension, worth a total £1.6m, for Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council on behalf of the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum, now known as The Land of Iron.

A celebration event and handover ceremony was recently held at the museum, which included Trustees of the museum, The Reverend Adam Gaunt MA (Chair of Museum Trustees) and the Tolent staff who successfully managed the build.

The Land of Iron is an important heritage building, providing a fascinating insight into the lives of the mine workers and the social history of the area. However, the need to improve the building arose back in 2018 when the old brick vaulted roof of the upcast building collapsed due to adverse weather conditions, and the museum was forced to close.

The new extension provides much-needed space for expansion as well as providing a link to the old mine buildings, making the existing space to be more accessible and designed particularly for wheelchair users.

The redevelopment works have been ongoing for approximately a year before Tolent officially handed over the completed buildings to the trustees of the museum during the ceremony. The design and execution of the works demanded careful methods of construction in order to avoid damage to the existing mine, its substructures and neighbouring properties whilst retaining as many original features as possible to help show the historical elements of the site.

The project was primarily funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Coastal Community Fund and Tees Valley Combined Authority, and private donors including British Steel, which made a generous donation of steel sections used in the construction of the building’s frame.

Rick Halton, Regional Director for Tolent, remarked: “I was closely attached to this project since the very beginning, as my father had worked in the mine for many years. I am immensely proud that the Tolent site team have transformed this museum into a place where future generations are better able to learn about the history of this locally important mine and its people.”

“Tolent has been fantastic, working closely with the museum and producing a building of the highest standard” said Adam Gaunt, Chair of Trustees of the museum.

“We couldn’t have hoped for a better partner in this exciting development.”

David Renwick, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we are delighted to be supporting the major redevelopment of the museum, and we’re delighted to see the ambitious work to the site has now been completed. This vital work will ensure that this fascinating heritage will be preserved and that local communities and visitors can learn more about the rich heritage of ironstone mining in the North of England for years to come.”

The new building provides new exhibition space; educational areas which can also be used for temporary exhibitions, art displays, live performances and room hire; environmentally-controlled archive storage; and a spacious office area for the staff.

The Land of Iron is due to open in autumn 2022. With the new look, the museum is set to host a whole year of exciting activities, suitable for the whole family.

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