Cleveland Ironstone Bibles – Do you have one ??

I’ve always thought of ironstone bibles as something of a rarity, but two have come up on eBay recently.
I like to think they would have been carved by miners for some extra income, although potentially anyone with access to a lump of ironstone could have carved them.

This 1889 dated Eston example carries the inscription ‘Forget Me Not In Cleveland’

This beautiful example of a Bible came from Upleatham mine (near New Marske)

This is one of my own photos of a Bible that was in the Yorkshire Mining Museum (since closed down)

There must be others out there locally, does anyone have an example in their family ?

Update : Many thanks for these contributions of Ironstone Bible photos from members of the public.


Steve Kay’s grandfather came with his family from Lancashire to be leader of Eston Miners’ Band at the end of the 19th century.

He was also landlord of the Cleveland Bay (Eston) and later the Miners’ Arms (Eston).

This one belonged to Derek Mosley’s Great Grandad William Garrett, who worked mainly in the Brotton and Skelton mines

Gavin Bretts doesn’t carry any identifying inscriptions, but looks like another example.

These photos from James Goodwill show another book with gold coloured inlays believed to be from the late 1800s, it belonged to William Mead, who was a mine manager in Eston.

The following examples are all in the collection of the Kirkleatham Museum, many thanks to Janet Williamson for giving me access to them.

These two example inscribed ‘Eston Metallic Iron Ore’ and “Cleveland Ironstone” shows how fragile the edges of the carvings can be.

This ‘Holy Bible” is also dated February 1912 with the initials EAB, I currently don’t have any details on who that was or what the occasion was.

“A Present to Mother” is highly decorated with gold inlays.

The level of decoration and style look very similar on “Eston Iron Stone” “Forget Me Not” so they are possible made by the same person.

“I’ll Think of Thee” is dated 1895 but also for an unknown occasion.



2 thoughts on “Cleveland Ironstone Bibles – Do you have one ??

  1. My great, great grandfather, the Reverend Thomas James Leslie, took up his post as Pastor in the Eston Congregationalist church in early February 1889. He was known as The Miners Friend in his previous ministry in Mexborough near Doncaster. He had supported evicted miners, organising a public fund, a soup kitchen and he wrote ceaseless letters to the newspapers. He was one of the speakers at the 1889 Demonstration Day and presided over the fortnightly miners trade union meetings which he instigated. Would be great if it was his bible Regards Josie

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