Chimney Bank & the story of Rosedale

Why is it called “Chimney Bank”…and other facts about this spectacular location in the North York Moors.

One of the best scenic viewpoints found anywhere in the North York Moors (and there are many great spots!) is found at Chimney Bank. From a bench hidden beside the road, you can enjoy incredible panoramic views of Rosedale, views which disappear over the horizon across the wild and brooding Moors. You can walk inside, above and around the historic calcining kilns at Bank Top and glance down to Rosedale Abbey, or take a look south over Hutton-le-Hole and beyond towards the cooling towers at Drax, Eggborough and Ferrybridge. You can trace the route of old railway lines from the kilns to the valley floor, or follow another line along the side of the dale to see further evidence of the Industrial Revolution and the iron-mining history of the North York Moors.

One thing that you can’t see at Chimney Bank – perhaps surprisingly – is a chimney. At least not a notable chimney; there are chimney pots visible on the houses in Rosedale Abbey, but nothing here that could have led to this hill being named Chimney Bank.

So why is it called Chimney Bank?

This is actually one of four things that is both odd and notably absent from Rosedale. The region is famous for iron mining, but there is no longer any mining. The village of Rosedale Abbey doesn’t have an abbey of any sort. Rosedale isn’t called Rosedale because of roses…and there isn’t a chimney on Chimney Bank.

Chimney Bank
Chimney Bank got its name from the chimney stack that once towered over Rosedale from Bank Top. It existed thanks to the iron-ore boom of the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution and Britain’s unquenchable thirst for iron led to an iron-mining explosion in the North York Moors.

The chimney was impressive – an enormous brick construction which, at 100 feet tall, towered over the side of the valley and became a prominent landmark at the southern end of the North York Moors.

The Rosedale Iron Rush!
Iron-age man is believed to be the first to mine iron ore in the North York Moors and Rosedale itself is known to have had forges in 1209. King Edward II was responsible for gifting land in Rosedale to nuns so that they could profit from the iron ore in Rosedale – hence the ‘Abbey’ part of Rosedale Abbey (more about that later).

The celebrated York railway magnate and Member of Parliament George Leeman (whose statue stands at the crossroads of Leeman Road and Station Road in York) opened the first of the region’s mines during the Industrial Revolution in 1851. The population of Rosedale would quickly grow from fewer than 550 to as many as 3,000 – part of Klondike-style rush to find employment and riches in Rosedale.

Leeman’s first mine produced more than 3 million tons of high-quality iron ore up to 1885, with the yield being sent by railway to Teeside for its next processing stage. Further mines were to follow, and Rosedale’s development continued with a bustling mining community being created where a remote agricultural area had once existed in peace and tranquillity.

Rosedale’s success was also partly thanks to its incredible railway line, which snaked, twisted and turned around the edge of the dale on a route which climber over the wild landscape of the North York Moors to Teeside. The spectacular views from the Rosedale Railway encouraged the railway’s owners to allow passengers to be carried along the line as well as the iron ore, making this stretch of track one of the world’s earliest passenger-carrying railways.

At its busiest, Rosedale was the base for 5,000 miners and associated workers, and the region’s mining success continued until the 1920s. Mining was in decline and it ended after the General Strike in 1926. The final train rail along the Rosedale Mineral Railway in 1928.

Roses in Rosedale?
More about this to follow!

Where’s the abbey in Rosedale Abbey?
More about this to follow!