Looking at Port Mulgrave on the Yorkshire coast today it’s 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.
In the early 1850s Sir Charles Palmer opened his first ironstone mine on his coastal property at Rosedale Wyke. The harbour costing £45,000 was built within a year and was formally opened in 1857. It was built so that the mined iron ore could be cheaply transported, by sea, to Jarrow to feed Charlie & George Palmers blast furnaces on Tyneside which produced steel for the shipyards.
In order to avoid confusion with the Rosedale ironworks in the heart of the North York Moors, Palmer renamed his coastal property Port Mulgrave in honour of the Earl of Mulgrave, a prominent local landowner.
When the ironstone reserves at Port Mulgrave began to dwindle Palmer opened another productive seam a short distance inland at Grinkle Park, close to Easington Beck. The ore was transported on a narrow gauge railway running over three wooden viaducts and through two tunnels to reach the harbour.
In 1916 the Grinkle mine was connected to the nearby Whitby-Middlebrough railway and Port Mulgrave harbour was abandoned.
In 1934 the last of the machinery was sold for scrap and the remains of the wooden gantry accidentally caught fire and burnt down.
Even though, at this time, the port was still in relatively good condition the Royal Engineers demolished the north pier and 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.
The area 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 fisherman’s corrugated iron huts slowly succumbing to the elements, as the following images show: