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North Riding
Boro Town Hall CNE 2011.jpg
Middlesbrough Town Hall
Grid reference: NZ496201
Location: 54°34’28"N, 1°14’2"W
Population: 174,700
Postcode: TS1-TS9
Dialling code: 01642
Local Government
Council: Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough S. & E. Cleveland

Middlesbrough is a large industrial town in the North Riding of Yorkshire, standing on the south bank of the River Tees.

To the northeast of Middlesbrough lies the Tees Estuary, approximately six miles away. A few miles to the south lies the edge of the North York Moors National Park.

Teesport,[1] the UK's third largest port,[2] lies three miles to the east, and Durham Tees Valley Airport lies eight miles to the west, near Darlington.

Name of the town

Mydilsburgh is the earliest recorded form of the name. The element '-burgh', from the Old English burh (meaning “fort”, or by extension “town”). The spelling brough sets Middlesbrough apart from other British towns, which typically use the spellings borough or “burgh”.

It is not certain if Mydil was someone's name or a reference to its position (a middle town or stronghold between others. The burgh may have included a monastic cell and was probably situated on the elevated land where the Victorian church of St Hilda's (demolished in 1969) was later built.

The town and its sporting teams are commonly referred to as the Boro.

The town

The town is not prosperous as in its heighday. Statistics for the Office for National Statistics rate Middlehaven, the dockside area of Middlesbrough, with the lowest healthy life expectancy.

Middlesbrough's contemporary townscape is largely workaday, it being no longer a heavy industrial town, though there are areas around which still support chemical, fertiliser and iron and steel manufacture.

Unlike some English towns where there was an older market town around which a larger industrial town grew, Middlesbrough was laid out starting from scratch. The result of this can be seen in the grid-like pattern of streets. Although there is no overall grid plan of the sort found in many American cities, there are areas in which side streets are laid out at right angles to major thoroughfares, with other side streets crossing them at right angles. These streets are continuous over three or four blocks of buildings. In the main shopping area, and on the east side of Linthorpe Road, streets were laid out in rectangular grid which seems to be based on Corporation Road, which runs from east to west. To the west of Linthorpe Road a grid pattern is based on Linthorpe Road itself, but after a few blocks the layout changes to a grid based on Newport Road, which runs north-east to south-west. South of Albert Park there are other smaller grids, but the long continuous streets are all north of Parliament Road and Albert Park. Further out of town there are more recent suburban streets with various layouts.


Early history

Acklam Hall

In 686 a monastic cell was consecrated by St Cuthbert at the request of St Hilda, Abbess of Whitby. In 1119, Robert Bruce, 1st Lord of Cleveland and Annandale, granted and confirmed the church of St. Hilda of Middleburg to Whitby.[3] Up until its closure on the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII in 1537,[4] the church was maintained by 12 Benedictine monks, many of whom became vicars or rectors of various places in Cleveland. The importance of the early church at "Middleburg", later known as Middlesbrough Priory, is indicated by the fact that in 1452 it possessed four altars.

Viking settlers arrived from the ninth century: place-names of Norse origin (with the suffix by) are abundant in the area, or which several now form suburbs of Middlesbrough. Other such names persist through school and road names, to now-outgrown or abandoned local settlements, such as the mediæval settlement of Stainsby, deserted by 1757, which amounts to little more today than a series of grassy mounds near the A19 road.[5]

Industrial history

Old Town Hall

In 1801 Middlesbrough was a mere hamlet with a population of just 25 people living in four farmhouses.

During the latter half of the 19th century, Middlesbrough experienced a growth unparalleled in Britain. Development began with the purchase of the farm in 1829 by a group of Quaker businessmen, headed by Joseph Pease the Darlington industrialist, who saw the possibilities of Middlesbrough’s becoming a port for the transport of coal from County Durham. Four initial streets, leading into the market square, were duly laid out. This cause was facilitated by an 1830 extension of the Stockton and Darlington Railway to the site, which all but erased the logistical obstacles to ongoing development of the town. Before this, the shipment of coal had been problematic owing to the shallow waters around Stockton-on-Tees. The opening of the Clarence Railway, in 1833, which shared some of the Stockton and Darlington Railway's track, also provided the stimulus for the growth of Port Clarence on the opposite side of the river from Middlesbrough.

From 1840 to 1842 the civil engineer George Turnbull built Middlesbrough Dock which was then bought by the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company.

William Ewart Gladstone, the Prime Minister, visited the town. He stood under the roof of the town hall, the original built in 1846, and famously dubbed Middlesbrough 'an infant Hercules' in 'England's enterprise'.

A wall celebrating the name Ironopolis

At the very moment when early fortunes showed signs of giving way to decline, another great leap forward took place, with the discovery of ironstone in the Eston Hills in 1850. In 1841, Henry Bolckow, who had come to Britain in 1827, formed a partnership with John Vaughan, originally of Worcester, and started an iron foundry and rolling mill, in a street they name Vulcan Street. It was Vaughan who realised the economic potential of local ironstone deposits. Pig iron manufacture rose tenfold between 1851 and 1856.

The importance of the area to the developing iron and steel trade gave it the nickname Ironopolis.[6][7] Also, a local football team playing in the late 1800s (now defunct), called itself Middlesbrough Ironopolis F. C.

On 21 January 1853, Middlesbrough received its Royal Charter of Incorporation,[8] giving the town the right to have a mayor, aldermen and councillors. Bolckow became mayor in 1853.

On 15 August 1867, a Reform Act was passed, making Middlesbrough a new parliamentary borough, and Bolckow was overwhelmingly elected member for Middlesbrough the following year.

The population of Middlesbrough, as county borough, peaked at almost 165,000 in the late 1960s but has been in decline since the early 1980s. From 2001 to 2004, however, the recorded population jumped significantly, from 134,000 to 142,000, then to 147,000 in 2005. The current population, as of mid 2010, is approximately 142,400.

The Bell brothers opened their great ironworks on the banks of the Tees in 1853. Steel manufacture began at Port Clarence in 1889 and an amalgamation with Dorman Long followed. After rock salt was discovered under the site in 1874, the salt-extraction industry on Teesside was founded. By now Bell Brothers had become a vast concern employing some 6,000 people. Isaac Lowthian Bell's own eminence in the field of applied science, where he published many weighty papers, and as an entrepreneur whose knowledge of blast furnaces was unrivalled, led to universal recognition. He was the first president of the Iron and Steel Institute, and the first recipient of the Bessemer Gold Medal in 1874. Bell was Lord Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1854–1855, and again in 1862–1863. He served as MP for Hartlepool in 1875–1880.

For many years in the 19th century Teesside set the world price for iron and steel. The steel components of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (1932) were engineered and fabricated by Dorman Long of Middlesbrough. Fittingly, the words MADE IN MIDDLESBROUGH are stamped on the Bridge. "The golden rivet" was hammered in by Kenneth Johnson Esq, Mechanical Engineer, whose son Christopher was later a pioneer in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry. The company was also responsible for the earlier New Tyne Bridge across the river at Newcastle.

Transporter Bridge, built in 1911

By a 1907 Act of Parliament the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company also built the great Transporter Bridge (1911) which spans the Tees itself between Middlesbrough and Port Clarence. At 850 feet long and 225 feet high, is one of the largest of its type in the world, and one of only two left in working order in Britain (the other being in Newport). The bridge remains in daily use and it is worth noting that, contrary to what is suggested by the plot of popular BBC drama/comedy Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, the bridge was not at any point dismantled and removed to Arizona. It is, indeed, a Grade II* listed building.

Another landmark, the Tees Newport Bridge opened further along the river in 1934. Newport Bridge still stands and is passable by traffic but it no can longer lift the centre section.

Several large shipyards also lined the Tees including the Sir Raylton Dixon & Company which produced hundreds of steam freighters including the infamous SS Mont-Blanc, the steamship which caused the 1917 Halifax Explosion in Canada.

The great steelworks, chemical plants, shipbuilding and offshore fabrication yards that followed the original Middlesbrough ironworks, have in the recent past contributed to Britain's prosperity in no small measure and still do to this day.

Second World War

Middlesbrough had the unenviable distinction of being the first major British town and industrial target to be bombed during the Second World War. The Luftwaffe first visited the town on 25 May 1940 when a lone bomber dropped 13 bombs between South Bank Road and the South Steel Plant. One of the bombs fell on the South Bank football ground making a large crater in the pitch. The bomber was forced to leave after RAF night fighters were scrambled to intercept. Two months after the first bombing the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill visited the town to meet the public and inspect coastal defences.[9]

German bombers often flew over Eston Hills in an effort to reach targets further inland, such as Manchester. On 30 March 1941 a Junkers Ju 88 was shot down by two Spitfires of No. 41 Squadron, piloted by Tony Lovell and Archie Winskill, over Middlesbrough. The aircraft dived into the ground at Barnaby Moor, Eston. The engines and most of the airframe being entirely buried upon impact.[10]

On 5 December 1941 a Spitfire of No. 122 Squadron, piloted by Sgt Hutton, crashed into rising ground near Mill Farm, Upsall, on the lower slopes of Eston Hills. Visibility had been poor due to bad weather and low cloud. It is believed this was the cause of the crash.

On 15 January 1942, minutes after being hit by gunfire from a merchant ship anchored off Hartlepool, a Dornier Do 217 collided with the cable of a barrage balloon over the River Tees. The blazing bomber plummeted onto the railway sidings in South Bank leaving a crater twelve feet deep. In 1997 the remains of the Dornier were unearthed by a group of workers clearing land for redevelopment. The remains were put on display for a short while at Kirkleatham museum.

On 4 August 1942 a lone Dornier Do 217 picked its way through the barrage balloons and dropped a stick of bombs onto the railway station. One bomb caused serious damage to the Victorian glass and steel roof. A train, also in the station at the time of attack, was badly damaged. By good fortune there were no passengers aboard.[11]

By the end of the war over 200 buildings had been destroyed within the Middlesbrough area. Areas of early and mid-Victorian housing were demolished and much of central Middlesbrough was redeveloped. Heavy industry was relocated to areas of land better suited to the needs of modern technology. Middlesbrough itself began to take on a completely different look.[12]

Origin of motto "Erimus"

The rapid growth of the town saw the prophetic words (probably spoken by Joseph Pease), 'Yarm was, Stockton is, Middlesbrough will be' come true. Indeed, the motto chosen by the first body of town councillors was in 'Erimus; Latin for 'We shall be'.

The motto "Erimus" or "We shall be" was intended at the town’s foundation in 1830 to signify the town's will to grow and become great. The arms of Middlesbrough were designed by W Hylton Longstaffe in 1853, the year of incorporation, and were modified in 1911. They show an azure (blue) lion beneath a row of 2 ships to represent the shipping trade of Middlesbrough. The design is based on that of the Bruce clan, which family owned the site on which Middlesbrough is built. Their motto "Fuimus" means "We have been".

Green Howards

The Green Howards was a British Army infantry regiment very strongly associated with Middlesbrough and the area south of the River Tees. Originally formed at Dunster Castle, Somerset in 1688 to serve King William of Orange, later King William III, this famous regiment became affiliated to the North Riding of Yorkshire in 1782. As Middlesbrough grew, its population of men came to be a group most targeted by the recruiters.

The Green Howards were part of the King's Division. On 6 June 2006, this famous regiment was merged into the new Yorkshire Regiment and are now The 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards), or "2 Yorks". There is also a Territorial Army company at Stockton Road in Middlesbrough, part of 4 Yorks which is wholly reserve.

One of the best-known soldiers of this historic regiment was Company Sergeant Major Stanley Hollis. He was the only soldier in all of the British and Empire armies to be awarded a Victoria Cross in the Normandy landings in June 1944. Other well-known Green Howards have included the TV conjuror Paul Daniels, Middlesbrough F.C.'s Wilf Mannion, General Sir Richard Dannatt (who was appointed Chief of the General Staff of the British Army in August 1996), former England rugby player Tim Rodber, and Yorkshire and England cricketer Hedley Verity, killed in action in 1943.

Panoramic view of Middlesbrough

Culture and leisure

Dorman Museum

The art gallery project, the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art opened its doors in January 2007. It currently holds the second largest collection of Picassos in the United Kingdom. It also holds works by Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse and Damien Hirst among others. Its considerable arts and crafts collections span from 1900 to the present day. Surrounding it is the town's overhauled Victoria Square and Central Gardens, in tandem producing "the largest civic space in Europe".[13]

Middlesbrough has two major recreational park spaces:

  • Albert Park
  • Stewart Park

The former, originally hailed as the 'People's Park', was donated to the town by Bolckow in 1866. It was formally opened by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, Queen Victoria’s youngest son, on 11 August 1868 and comprises a 70 acre site accessible from Linthorpe Road. The park underwent a considerable period of restoration from 2001 to 2004, during which a number of the park's most well-known landmarks, including a fountain, bandstand and sundial saw either restoration or revival. The latter park was donated to the people of Middlesbrough in 1928 by Councillor Thomas Dorman Stewart and encompasses Victorian stable buildings, lakes and animal pens. During 2011 and 2012, the park is to undergo major refurbishment of many of its features. Alongside these two parks are two of the town's premier cultural attractions, the century-old Dorman Memorial Museum and the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum. In March 2011, the Dorman Memorial Museum was given the honour of displaying the Middlesbrough meteorite (lent from the Yorkshire museum). This was the first time the 3.3 lb meteorite had been put on display in the town since it fell to Earth in March 1881. Close to the Captain Cook Birthplace museum is a granite urn, marking the approximate location of the world famous explorer's birthplace.

Newham Grange Leisure farm in Coulby Newham, one of the most southerly districts of the town, has operated continuously in this spot since the 17th century, becoming a leisure farm with the first residential development of the suburb in the 1970s. It is now a burgeoning tourist attraction: the chance to view its cattle, pigs, sheep and other farm animals is complemented by exhibitions of the farming history of the area.

Back in the 'Old Town' or St Hilda's, is the Transporter Bridge Visitor Centre, opened in 2000 and offering its own exhibitions charting the stirring past of the surrounding industrial powerhouse, as well as that of the singular structure it commemorates.


Riverside Stadium 2010

Middlesbrough FC is a Football League club. The club is based at the Riverside Stadium on the banks of the River Tees, where they have played since relocating from Ayresome Park, their home for 92 years. Founder members of the Premier League in FA Premier League 1992-93|1992, Middlesbrough are winners of the 2004 Football League Cup,[14] and were beaten finalists in the UEFA Cup the following season.[15]

In 1905, Middlesbrough FC made history with Britain's first £1,000 transfer when they signed Alf Common from local rivals Sunderland.[16]

Another league club, Middlesbrough Ironopolis FC, was briefly based in the town during the 1890s, but folded within a few years.

Speedway racing was staged at Cleveland Park Stadium from the pioneer days of 1928 until the 1990s. The post-war team, known as The Bears, and for a time, The Teessiders, and the Teesside Tigers operated at all levels. The immediate post war Bears team, which operated between 1945 and 1948, was reputed to be a victim of its own success. The track operated for amateur speedway in the 1950s before re-opening in the Provincial League of 1961. The track closed for a spell later in the 1960s but returned in as members of the Second Division as The Teessiders. Speedway returned to the Middlesbrough area in 2006 and the team is known as the Redcar Bears.



  1. PD Ports plc
  2. "UK's Teesport Starts Terminal Expansion". The Journal of Commerce. 3 February 2011. http://www.joc.com/maritime/uks-teesport-starts-terminal-expansion. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  3. "Welcome to Middlesbrough". http://www.middlesbroughuk.co.uk/. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  4. Moorsom, Norman (1983). Middlesbrough as it was. Hendon Publishing Co. Ltd.. 
  5. "Stainsby Mediæval Village". Tees Archaeology. http://www.teesarchaeology.com/projects/stainsby/index.html. Retrieved 20 December 2007. 
  6. Northern Echo 23 February 1870 "Middlesbrough has sometimes been designated the Ironopolis of the North."
  7. Journal of Social History, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Spring, 2004), p 746 "Middlesbrough never ceased to be Ironopolis.."
  8. "History of Cleveland Police". http://www.cleveland.police.uk/about-us/History.aspx. Retrieved 3 April 2011. 
  9. "Target South Bank, 1940 - Gazettelive - Remember When". Rememberwhen.gazettelive.co.uk. http://rememberwhen.gazettelive.co.uk/2010/05/target-south-bank-1940.html. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  10. "Aircraft accidents in Yorkshire". Yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk. 1945-08-17. http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/yorkshire/york41/4ugh.html. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  11. "Middlesbrough Railway Station, August 1942 - Gazettelive - Remember When". Rememberwhen.gazettelive.co.uk. http://rememberwhen.gazettelive.co.uk/2010/04/middlesbrough-railway-station.html. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  12. "Middlesbrough 1940's". Billmilner.250x.com. 1942-08-04. http://www.billmilner.250x.com/mbro40.html. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  13. Harley, Shaun (16 October 2007). "'I was made in Middlesbrough'". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7046579.stm. Retrieved 10 October 2008. 
  14. "Boro lift Carling Cup". BBC Sport. 29 February 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/league_cup/3507795.stm. Retrieved 2 January 2008. 
  15. "Sevilla end 58-year wait". uefa.com. http://www.uefa.com/competitions/uefacup/history/season=2005/intro.html. Retrieved 2 January 2008. 
  16. Proud, Keith (18 August 2008). "The player with the Common touch". The Northern Echo. Newsquest Media. http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/history/memories/teesside/3603267.The_player_with_the_Common_touch_/. Retrieved 2012-02-12. 

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Middlesbrough)