Middlesbrough

“Yarm was, Stockton is, Middlesborough will be.”

– an old North Eastern proverb



While it is no longer considered part of the county has developed into a place which bases itself on a strong work ethic, industry and innovation. We are basing this guide on the original Three Ridings of Yorkshire and so this is why it is included.
Middlesbrough is a town and industrial port lying to the south of the River Tees. It has a population of 138,000 people and until 1974 was considered to be fully part of Yorkshire. It is famous for being the most rapidly expanding town in the country due to its industry.
One of the most famous Teesside landmarks and symbols of its industrial heritage is the Transporter Bridge, located at Port Clarence. Opened in 1911 the bridge is 260 metres long, making it one of the longest transporter bridges in the world.

There are only eleven remaining crossings of this kind, with two others also in the UK. The gondola which swings to each side can carry 200 people, 9 cars or one minibus in two minutes. When operational it is part functional-part tourist attraction with a crossing every fifteen minutes to Port Clarence. There is also an accompanying visitor centre, which has been recently upgraded. The transporter bridge featured on an episode of “Auf Wiedershen Pet” in which it was dismantled and taken across the Atlantic to be rebuilt at the Grand Canyon.

The Middlesbrough transporter gondola in 1931. Picture credit. Wikipedia public domain.
The Middlesbrough transporter gondola in 1931. Picture credit. Wikipedia public domain.

 

The Dorman museum was established in 1904 and named after industrialist Alfred Dorman and his son, George. It started as mainly a natural history museum, although more diverse artefacts have been added since. Visitors can explore eight permanent displays which show archaeology found in the area, town archives, costumes, natural history and botanical collections to name but a few. There are also exhibitions and family events which take place throughout the year.

The Middlesbrough Institute for Modern Art (mima) was opened in 2007 and is one of the country’s leading galleries of its kind. There are several exhibitions featuring works from artists such as David Hockney, Salvador Dali and L.S Lowry. It also hosts extensive displays of 20th century ceramics and jewellery. The attraction has a shop, cafe and learning facilities.
Middlesbrough is also home to the Captain Cook birthplace museum at nearby Marton. This opened in October 1978 and charts the life of the famous explorer plus his contribution to world geography. The attraction hosts a number of displays showing artefacts from his several voyages to Australia, New Zealand, North America and the Pacific Islands. There are also dedicated exhibitions of the wildlife he would have seen and the Niu treasures from the Pacific are on display too. The museum also runs several related events and exhibitions throughout the year.

The Captain Cook museum at nearby Marton Around the museum is Stewart Park, a 120-acre site containing two lakes, arboretum, outdoor ball games and nature trails. The greenspace has had a long history and is said to be built on the lost village of East Marton. The area belonged to major industrialist and the first mayor of the town, Henry Bolckow, who helped first discover iron in the area. He lived at Marton Hall and landscaped the park himself. It was eventually given to the people of Middlesbrough in 1928. The area also hosts the annual Cleveland show which features animal competitions, show jumping, birds of prey, stalls and children’s entertainment.

The 30-hectare Albert Park is located in the centre of the town. It was opened in 1868 and has several facilities, including visitors centre, roller skate rink, cafe, tennis courts and bowling green. There are also several monuments across the park, such as one of the late Brian Clough, a South African war memorial and a carving depicting Captain Cook’s voyages. Other important features include a fountain, lake and sundial, which enable visitors to tell the time in London New York and Melbourne.
Ormesby Hall and gardens is an 18th century mansion with park and art collection. It has been home to the Pennyman family for the past 400 years and is a fine example of a Georgian stately home. There are also the Roseberry ceramics exhibition and a wildlife garden to enjoy.

Middlesbrough is served by two theatres, large and small. The biggest one takes its name after the town and was opened in 1957 by Sir John Gielgud. It has a varied programme of plays, opera, comedy and dance shows. The Middlesbrough Little theatre is a youth production group, founded in 2003 and stages various shows throughout the year at this smaller venue. The Empire is the town’s old music hall, built in 1897. After the variety shows ended in the 1960s it fell into dereliction but was bought in 1991. Since then it has hosted top name DJs and rock bands. Another live venue is Doctor Browns which feature live bands and comedians through the week with an emphasis on local talent. Middlesbrough town hall also puts on a range of live events featuring top comedians, musicians and children’s shows.

There are also numerous bars, pubs and clubs in the town centre, such as The Keys, Kalinka, and The Basement to name but a few. After a good night out in Middlesbrough revellers can enjoy a “parmo,” which is a local delicacy made of deep fried chicken covered with melted cheese.

The lively nightclubbing scene in Middlesbrough is also enjoyed by the town’s students studying at Teesside University. This institution originated from the Constantine Technical College built in 1930, which expanded to become a polytechnic in 1969 and achieve full university status in 1992 as the University of Teesside. In 2009 it changed its name to the current one and four years later had a total of 21,830 students studying a range of courses such as art, engineering, computer animation and forensic science, along with more traditional subjects. The institution also has five research areas including digital media, technology, the arts, healthcare and social issues.

Middlesbrough prides itself on football. The club was formed when the town’s cricket team wanted to stay fit throughout the winter months. In 1889 the club made its debut in the football league, alongside town rivals “Middlesbrough Ironapolis,” which folded in 1894. They played their home games at Ayresome Park until 1995 and much like they always have done yo-yoed between the second and top tiers of English football. The club reached a crisis point in 1986 when famously it was bought by current owner, Steve Gibson with ten minutes to spare before it was due to fold. The club soon recovered to become one of the founding clubs in the new 1992 Premier League and relocated to the Riverside Stadium three years later. In 2006 they reached the UEFA cup final but lost 4-0 to Sevilla. Since being relegated from the Premier League in 2009 they have remained in the Championship ever since.

The statue of former player George Hardwick outside The Riverside stadium. PIcture credit: Peter Robinson geograph wikipedia creative commons.
The statue of former player George Hardwick outside The Riverside stadium. PIcture credit: Peter Robinson geograph wikipedia creative commons.

 

A new state of the art sports village opened in April 2015. It houses an athletics track, velodrome, gymn and sports hall amongst other facilities.

Shopping in Middlesbrough revolves around four main areas, including The Cleveland Centre, Hillstreet, Captain Cook Square and Dundas. The former is an indoor arcade and largest shopping area in the town. It houses many top high street names and has recently undergone redevelopment. Captain Cook square is the newest shopping area housing twenty outlets around a central brick courtyard. The Hillstreet centre has a combination of major stores and independent retailers, while the Dundas is centrally located and offers a wide variety of stores complete with entertainment. The pedestrianised streets of Linthorpe and Corporation Road are also full of shops to explore.

Middlesbrough is well linked to other places in Yorkshire thanks to the A19, running to York and the A66 towards the A1. The A171 connects it to the coastal towns of Whitby and Scarborough.

The town’s original railway station was constructed as part of Joseph Pease’s project for a new port and was an extension to the existing Stockton to Darlington railway. The current one was designed in 1877 by William Peachey and the roof was partly destroyed during the Second World War. It runs services to Darlington, Bishop Auckland and Saltburn on the Tees Valley line. Further south the Esk Valley line takes passengers to Whitby and the North York Moors, while a half-hourly service runs to Sunderland and Newcastle.

The centrally located bus station runs regular services to Redcar, Darlington, Scarborough and Newcastle amongst others.

Throughout its short history, the town of Middlesbrough has developed into a place which prides itself on a strong work ethic, industry and innovation.


 

 

The old Victorian Town Hall dates is part of the original port. Picture Credit: Anthony Winward.
The old Victorian Town Hall  was part of the original town centre. Picture Credit: Anthony Winward.wikipedia creative commons

 

Middlesbrough, out of all Yorkshire towns and cities has one of the most unique histories of all based solely around the Industrial Revolution. This one event transformed a small farming hamlet by the River Tees into a major industrial port at the centre of the world’s iron, coal and oil production. Even places such as Bradford and Leeds, which also underwent huge expansion during the 19th Century cannot compete with the scale of transformation that Middlesbrough went through during this period. It has been described as ‘Britain’s oldest new town’ which was manufactured solely by industrial entrepreneurs, unlike many other places that have developed either through religion or foreign invasion.

The village of “Middelsburg” was recorded in the Domesday Book and had a priory established by St Hilda of Whitby in 1119. Like all the others in Yorkshire this perished during the dissolution of monasteries under the reign of Henry VIII. The village was just one of several similar ones in the area on the banks of the Tees, many with Viking origin, such as Ormesby, Maltby and Tollesby. These places are nowadays suburbs of the town which was to develop around them. Middlesbrough itself, throughout the centuries, never expanded beyond four farmhouses and had a population of just twenty-five people in 1801.

In those days the main port was down the river at Stockton on Tees, where goods from the coalfields further north in County Durham were transported via the Stockton-Darlington railway. This place proved to be too small to cope with the sheer volume of traffic coming from these mining heartlands. Another port was needed to the south of the river and nearer to the sea. In 1828 a Quaker banker and entrepreneur, Joseph Pease sailed down the Tees to find a suitable location for this new port. He came across the four farmsteads, surrounded by a “dismal swamp” and bought the land to build his new town and docks which he originally named “Port Darlington.”

Access for the boats and trains to carry the goods to this new port were expanded. Pease’s father, Edward built the Stockton-Darlington railway and so an extension was made. A town had to be built in order to house the workers which plied their trade at the new port and this became known as Middlesbrough. The four farmsteads from the original village became what was then the town centre, with roads such as Cleveland street, North Street and Stockton Street forming a grid pattern around a main market square. Traders and their families moved in, such as merchants, blacksmiths, innkeepers and joiners, swelling the population to 7,600 by 1851. Around this time iron ore was first discovered by John Vaughan and Henry Bolckow in the Cleveland hills at nearby Eston. Their timing was immaculate because in the 1850s the British rail network was being constructed for the first time and iron was in huge demand to build the tracks which were to link each town and city. The production of iron soon became Middlesbrough’s principle industry, competing with Sheffield as the north’s chief supplier. The first Bessemer steel plant was built on Teesside in 1875 by Vaughan and Bolckow with methods perfected in order to use their local iron discoveries at Eston. Soon the area became a chief exporter of this metal, meaning that around the world, railways, dungeons and landmarks, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge could trace their iron structures back to the hills around Middlesbrough.

The wealth in which this industry created, along with the original plan of extending the docks along the River Tees from Stockton enabled the town to further expand with the population reaching 90,000 by 1900. In the early part of the new century several structures were built, such as the Transporter bridge over the river Tees, which opened in 1911. A new town hall was constructed in 1899 as the settlement expanded rapidly to the south of the river around Eston and surrounding villages. Another structure, the Dorman Long “Newport lifting bridge,” was opened in 1934 the first of its kind in England.

The centre of Middlesbrough also moved to the site of the new town hall around Corporation Street and the old Linthorpe road, which follows the path of the ancient country route that connected the two villages when they were both farming settlements. The original 1830s old town, complete with its former civic quarters are still there in the northern suburbs of Middlesbrough but are no longer part of the centre.

Middlesbrough was an obvious target for the Germans, especially in the Second World War due to its munitions making capabilities. By 1945 two hundred buildings had been destroyed by the Luftwaffe and the town had to be partially re-built.

Middlesbrough; from just four farms tomajor port in 150 years. Picture credit: Mick Garrat geograph wikipedia creative commons,
Middlesbrough; from just four farms to a major port in 150 years. Picture credit: Mick Garrat geograph wikipedia creative commons,

 

As industry generally declined throughout the country in the latter half of the 20th Century, Middlesbrough diversified into other sectors. During the 1960s three oil refineries were established in the newly created Teesport. Chemical, gas and potash industries are also present on the reclaimed Seal and Brian Sands, making Teesside the third biggest port in the UK. The development of Middlesbrough from farming village to major British industrial port has also caused problems amongst political border authorities. When the ridings system was first mapped by the Vikings it followed the natural course of the River Tees, which meant anything to the south of its banks lay in Yorkshire. Middlesbrough of course did not exist then and so when the area was developed and expanded it eventually became part of its own area, Cleveland in 1974. When this was abolished in 1996 Boro became a unitary authority, which meant its administration covered the boundaries within the town and Teesside. Therefore Middlesbrough is no longer considered to be part of Yorkshire, except for ceremonial purposes and is nowadays more associated with other places in the north East such as Newcastle and Sunderland.

Middlesbrough originally manufactured by industrialists to house workers for a new port has dwarfed its rivals and become the major centre in the area. It has come a long way from the four farms which used to lie peacefully next to the river. Founder, Joseph Pease’s notion in 1828 that “the bare fields would be covered with a busy multitude with vessels crowding the banks of a busy seaport” would most certainly come true.





Middlesborough was originally four farmsteads set in a “dismal swamp” on the banks of the River Tees.

In 2006 Middlesborough FC became one of the smallest towns in population to ever compete in a European Cup final
The Riverside stadium was the first modern stadia to be built after the Taylor Report in 1990 and was opened in 1995.

The Middlesborough transporter bridge is one of only eleven of its kind remaining in the world.

The clock on Middlehaven dock has four sides, but only three clock faces. This is because employers did not want their dockworkers to clock watch.

Captain Cook was killed by a mob of angry Hawaiians after a dispute over a broken mast on one of his ships.

Middlesborough’s transporter bridge is the only place you can bungee jump – off a bridge.

The first motto adopted in Middlesbrough was “Erimus,” which means, “we will be.”

During the 1966 World Cup the North Korean football team stayed in Middlesbrough and trained at the ICI chemical works. They beat Italy 1-0 at Ayresome park, cheered on by the locals.

In 1801 the population of Middlesbrough was just 25, nowadays it is 140,000.