Salt Store, Port Clarence Posted on May 26, 2015 by Picture Stockton Team A view of the Salt Store at Port Clarence showing domestic salt in blocks c1890s. Share this:TweetWhatsAppEmailLike this:Like Loading... Related
Underground salt beds were discovered at Middlesbrough by Bolckow and Vaughan in 1863 whilst boring for water to supply their ironworks. Due to the technology at this date nothing became of this but in 1874 Bell Brothers sank a borehole in land adjoining their ironworks at Port Clarence. Here they found a bed of salt at a depth of 1,127 feet. This was the start of an industry, now forgotten, which which created employment and a community at Haverton Hill long before the arrival of the Furness Shipyard and ICI.
There is a set of geological maps on the Internet, dating from the 1880s, covering the whole of the UK .
One of them indicated that borings around Haverton Hill showed that salt strata was at a depth of about 1100ft, About a mile to the north of Haverton Hill, the thickness of the layer was over 100ft, but it was thinning down to 48ft, fairly close to where the Transporter Bridge now stands. There was also another trial boring to the west of where the Furness Ship Yards were built, but the salt layer had disappeared at this point.
These maps are based on the Inch to the Mile Mid-Nineteenth Century Ordnance Survey and are well worth having a look at for historical reasons. They show that Stockton is about one twentieth of it present size. There are hardly any houses in Portrack or Tilery. Portrack Lane ends around the now vanished pack horse bridge over Lustrum Beck
Its all down to the formation of the Zechstein Sea, an area which does not appear on modern maps!
Around 200 million years ago, because of Continental Drift, our area of Europe was a desert located near the equator. There was however a very large inland sea about the size of the Mediterranean, which geologists call the Zechstein. As it dried up, salts of various kinds precipitated out. Subsequently, over millions of years, these were buried by drifting desert sand, which itself was eventually covered by the sea, and later deposits of rocks.
The Zechstein Sea was responsible for the anhydrite mines beneath ICI Billingham, as well as the brine wells at Haverton Hill. Going further south, precipitation from the Zechstein produced the potassium rich salts around the south eastern Cleveland Hills.
On warm summer days in the late 1940s, we used to go on the bus to Seaton Carew beach via the Transporter Bridge, Middlesbrough, having crossed over the Tees river you waited for the Seaton Carew bus, which when it arrived was often full and passengers could not get on it. If this happened my mother used to take us to sit in the grassy areas amongst the brine pits nearby. Can anyone tell me what these pits are? where did the salty water in them come from, and what was it used for? Today there would be great concerns it could overflow and poison the River Tees, so one must ask did this event ever occur. I do know that in 1951? the River Tees was once full of dead fish, maybe thousands of them, a news press story that got into the Evening Gazette, was there any connection?