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Kirkleatham
Lying three miles south of Redcar, Kirkleatham is one of Cleveland’s architectural gems. Not really a village but a collection of classical and domestic buildings of considerable quality that formed the Turner Estate.
The Turner family lived at Kirkleatham from 1661. Sir William Turner who had been Lord Mayor of London gave most of his fortune to found the Sir William Turner’s Hospital which still continues today as an independent ‘Almshouse’. He bequeathed £5,000 to his great nephew Choimley Turner to establish Free School. The School alter a chequered history is now the local Museum.
Cholmley Turner’s nephew and successor, Charles Turner M.P. continued building the Estate. He remodelled Kirkleatham Hall, built the adjoining village of Yearby and continued the development of the Hospital, School and Library.
Cholmley added other first class buildings, most notably the Turner Mausoleum attached to St. Cuthbert’s Church built in memory to an only son who died young. He was also responsible for the building of the exquisite little Chapel at the
Almshouses. The renowned architect James Gibbs was responsible for both.

The child heir to Charles Turner was unable to maintain such a level of building activity but showed a talent for breeding racehourses, producing Derby and St. Leger winners from Kirkleatham. This interest eventually led to the establishment of Redcar Races. When the direct Turner line died out the Estate began to fall into decline with subdivisions and lack of commitment. We are lucky so much is still intact and to have inherited such a wealth of history from a family with high connections and considerable power. Many of the Turner family initiatives including the Free School, Library, Museum, and agricultural pioneering were extremely advanced for their age.

Recent time has been less kind on the Estate. The Charity Commissioners pressed for the sale of various elements and in 1954 the Hall was demolished and timber rights were sold. All the valuable hardwood trees in the parkland were lost. The walled garden ceased to be used for this purpose in the late 1950’s resulting in the deterioration of the structures through
neglect and vandalism. The Old Hall (the School) was in part used as a furniture store and the beautiful Stable Block designed by John Carr of York with its classical facades and unique courtyard became an intensive pig breeding farm.

In 1970 Teesside Borough Council woke up to the value of this collection of buildings and landscape. It was probably the new by-pass road that provided the stimulus removing the two busy roads from the village. A Conservation Area was declared, later designated outstanding, and the Stable Block was re-roofed. The Council acquired the Old Hall and adjoining grounds but little else happened until after Local Government reorganisation. The new Council, Langbaurgh, needed a base for its Parks Department and the newly acquired land to the rear of the Old Hall provided an easily developed site. This presence drew attention to the deteriorating condition of the Old Hall. A beautiful building of 3 main facades possibly designed by William Wakefield. The Council removed the Victorian additions, made the building weather tight and established a heating system. A holding operation but no more. Using Y.T.S. some low key environmental improvements were carried out and a Woodland Management Scheme in association with the Countryside Commission saved the best of what was left of the woodland.
A change of political power at Langbaurgh in 1979 brought Kirkleatham back to the fore. The new Council wanted a
A Step Forward
Mike Kipling Assistant Chief Planning Officer for Langbaurgh on Tees Borough Council, outlines the rise and fall of a once great estate and explains the attempts being made to effect a revival of its fortunes.
Old Hall Museum
Sir William Turner’s Almsho uses.
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