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Middlesbrough, on the south bank of the Tees estuary, was a small fishing village of 40 people before a group of Quakers, including Joseph Pease and Joseph Gurney, associated with the Stockton & Darlington Railway, decided to turn it into a town in 1829. The original purpose of the railway was to convey coal from Auckland to the River Tees at Stockton. However, the depth of water proved insufficient for large vessels so it was decided to find a site for a better port down the river. Pease and his friends paid £35,000 for the 520 acre site and the Stockton & Darlington opened a line to it in 1830. The census carried out in 1831 showed the population had reached 383 but ten years later this had risen to 5,709.

John Vaughan and a German entrepreneur, F. W. Bolckow, opened an ironworks in Middlesbrough in 1840. The discovery of workable ironstone in the nearby Eston Hills in 1851 helped their business expand. In 1879 the company became the first to make use of the new Bessemer steel-making method.

In 1856 the South Durham & Lancashire Railway opened. High grade ironstone from Furness was now brought across the Pennines to Middlesbrough. This was a profitable railway line and in 1877 a new impressive gothic station was built in the town.

The Stockton & Darlington Railway was taken over by the North Eastern Railway in 1849. They also purchased the dock area and an improvement in its facilities was finished in 1874. These developments stimulated economic growth and by 1881 the population of Middlesbrough had reached 56,000.

We Are Middlesbrough: Where and what is it?

It's a simple question but, as can be seen from the confusion above, the answer is about as clear as the once smoke-filled sky that gave the townsfolk their Smoggy nickname.

The area in which Middlesbrough sits has gone by numerous names - Teesside, Cleveland, Tees Valley and North Yorkshire - as local councils have been formed and abolished (about which more later).

But first, to appreciate the geography it is useful to have a grasp of its history.

Middlesbrough started as a Benedictine priory on the south bank of the River Tees, its name possibly derived from it being midpoint between the holy sites of Durham and Whitby.

By 1820, it had become a farm and hamlet with 25 residents surrounded by salt marshes and fields.

The thriving town at the time was Stockton, the terminus of the Darlington and Stockton Railway which opened in 1825 and carried coal from the Durham mines to be shipped out from Stockton's port.

But Stockton had a problem - it was too far from the coast.

The winding river to the North Sea could take seven days to traverse while newer, larger ships, were often unable to even get to port.

A spot closer to the estuary was sought and prominent mine owner Joseph Pease set his sights on the 500-acre farm of Middlesbrough.

Work began in 1829 and within two years the first port and workers' homes had been built.

The new town, initially called Port Darlington, was focused on a market square and town hall with four roads.

Subsequent streets were built on a grid basis as the town grew, like pieces being added to a giant jigsaw, according to historian Paul Menzies.

By 1841, Middlesbrough was home to 5,200 people, including large numbers of miners from Wales and Cornwall and labourers from Ireland.

In 1850, a new industry exploded with the discovery of iron ore in the Cleveland Hills overlooking the town, and "Ironopolis" was born, pioneered by industrialists like Henry Bolckow and John Vaughan.

Foundries and factories burst into being along the south bank of the Tees, and shipbuilding to rival that on the Wear and Tyne began.

Chemical firms sprang up on the north bank, swelling the populations of places like Port Clarence and Billingham.

The air would have been rent by a cacophony of noise, the night-time sky burning orange with the fires of industry.

Smoke billowing from the furnaces and chimneys turned the new buildings black.

Streets of terraced homes neighboured giant industrial units, an undesirable thought to modern house-hunters but a convenient commute for the Victorian worker.

New streets spread out over the farmland to accommodate all the new workers and their families, consuming villages like Linthorpe, Ayresome and Ormesby which had been listed in the Domesday Book.

Theatres, clubs, libraries and an opera house opened and in 1876 the town's football club was founded.

At one point there were more than 100 pubs in the town centre alone, and large parks were created to offer havens among the hubbub.

In 1862, with the town barely 30 years old, Prime Minister William Gladstone visited, nicknaming Middlesbrough the "Infant Hercules".


The original quayside continued trading and throughout the first half of the 20 th century was operated by T Roddam Dent and Sons and was known as Dents Wharf, the adjacent picture being from 1950.

It wasn’t till 1970 that Arthur Vernon Dawson, the grandfather of current managing director Gary Dawson bought the land from the Dent family, to build a new yard from which to operate an expanding haulage business and to develop the first multi-user industrial estate in Middlesbrough.

The smaller quay that is owned, closest to the Transporter bridge was known as Tyne Tees Wharf and was once operated by the Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company until the 1940’s- it had the only Bonded Warehouse on the Tees at the time, the remnants of which we demolished in the 1980s.

Moving into the late 1980s when the National Dock Labour Scheme was abolished by Margaret Thatcher, AV Dawson gained a license to operate its first quay. This is when the quayside changed from being called Middlesbrough Wharf and became known as Dawson’s Wharf.

The company then purchased the Ayrton Rolling Mill from British Steel in 1985 and renamed it as the Ayrton Railhead and Store. Further land acquisitions included the Linthorpe Dinsdale Yard in 1998 (the quay being known as Lin-Din, which was then re-branded North Sea Supply Base).

This was followed by additional purchases of several plots of land to the south of Forty Foot Road, alongside the Middlesbrough Goods Rail Yard. These sites once developed became collectively known as the Tees Riverside Intermodal Park (TRIP Terminal). Latterly a 99-year lease of Middlesbrough Goods Yard was taken from Network Rail.

On 17 September 2020 AV Dawson returned to its roots by renaming its site Port of Middlesbrough – An AV Dawson Facility.

15 Great Lost Middlesbrough Buildings

Central Middlesbrough has changed so much over the past century.

In his new book, Middlesbrough 1920-2020: A Century of Change, author Araf Chohan has uncovered hundreds of photographs which show these changes.

For many, the main landmarks of Middlesbrough have been the buildings which define the town and life there. Perhaps most famous is the iconic Transporter Bridge.

Sadly many of these landmark buildings have been lost over the years. Who remembers these?

The Royal Exchange

One of Middlesbrough’s most lamented buildings. The Victorian Royal Exchange was once a site of commerce at the heart of the town, near the railway station. It made way for the new A66 viaduct in the early 1980s.

St Hilda’s Parish Church

The original parish church of Middlesbrough, built in the original township which shared the name of St Hilda’s (and later referred to as “Over The Border”). As the population moved south, the church was closed and demolished in 1969. You can still see a memorial on the site, and some old grave stones.

Hugh Bell School

Many Middlesbrough children attended Hugh Bell School in the heart of the town. Built in 1892, the grand building was eventually demolished to make way for Teesside Magistrates Court in the early 1970s.

Ayresome Park

The famous town-centre home of Middlesbrough FC. This stadium was a part of the landscape for over 90 years, between 1903 and 1995, when the modern Riverside Stadium opened. The site is now housing.

Star & Garter Hotel

Another grand building to make way for the A66 road. The Star & Garter Hotel on Marton Road was built in the 1890s and lasted until the 1970s. It was a famous drinking establishment in the town.

St Mary’s Cathedral

The home of the Catholic Church in Middlesbrough was St Mary’s on Sussex Street. It opened in 1878 and was consecrated as a cathedral a year later. Many of the famous processions originated here over the years.

Sadly the church fell into disuse and was the victim of arson when a fire was started in 2000. The site is now occupied by the new Middlesbrough Police HQ.

Grand Opera House/Gaumont Cinema

Middlesbrough was home to many theatres and cinemas over its history. One of the most famous was the Grand Opera House on the corner of Linthorpe and Southfield roads. It opened in December 1903 with seating for 2,600 people. It became the Gaumont Cinema in 1931.

After closing in 1964, the building was demolished in 1971. The site is now a nondescript office building.

The Ship Inn

Middlesbrough’s original and oldest public house. The Ship Inn has been a part of Middlesbrough since it became an established town. Sadly as the St Hilda’s area emptied out and became derelict, the Ship lost much of its custom. A fire in 2012 left it in a terrible state, and all that remains now is the empty lower storey. How long will it last?

Corporation Hotel

The corner of Corporation and Albert roads in the heart of Middlesbrough are today home to one of the tallest buildings in the North East. Yet for a long time this was the site of the Corporation Hotel -a towering establishment with a popular bar and accommodation. It was demolished in the 1970s to make way for the tall Corporation House office block.

Winter Gardens

The Winter Garden was opened by Sir Hugh and Lady Bell for the benefit of the people of Middlesbrough in 1907. It was an entertainment and recreation venue for socialising and enjoying food. It closed in 1963 and is now the site of the Dundas Arcade shopping mall.

Gilkes Street Baths

How many of you enjoyed swimming at Gilkes Street Swimming Baths? This was an important leisure venue in the heart of the town, with a large pool and Turkish baths. It lay empty in the 1990s and was eventually demolished to make way for the Captain Cook Square shopping centre.

Marton Hall

If you visit Stewart Park in Marton today you may see a lonely portico standing on a rise. This is all that remains of the large Marton Hall – once home to Middlesbrough ironmaster Henry Bolckow. It stood from 1858 until 1960 when a fire ripped through the empty building.

“Big Wesley” Methodist Church

As the heart of Middlesbrough was changing in the 1950s and 60s, many streets and buildings were making way for shopping precincts. On the corner of Corporation Road and Linthorpe Road, the imposing “Big Wesley” Methodist chapel would also be lost. This building had stood since the 1890s, and made way for the new British Home Stores shop.

North Riding Infirmary

Another much-loved Middlesbrough building which has been lost. The North Riding Infirmary on Newport Road is a relatively recent loss, being demolished in 2006. An ugly supermarket and budget hotel occupy the site now, but the entrance arch from the Infirmary was rebuilt on the site as a reminder of the building.

Bolckow & Vaughan Iron Works

Much of Middlesbrough’s early prestige came from its iron industry. Industrialists Henry Bolckow and John Vaughan were pioneers of this and moved their Blockow, Vaughan & Co to the town in 1840. They set up works on Vulcan Street. The company was eventually taken over by Dorman Long in 1929, which went on to become British Steel. The site of the works is now empty, although reminders of its industrial past remain in the Vulcan Street Wall.

Middlesbrough - History

Middlesbrough was a small hamlet on the south side of the river Tees, with a population in (1829) of just 40. By the end of the (19th) Century it had become a city of 91,000.

The turning point in Middlesbrough's history was the purchase of 500 acres of the original Middlesbrough estate by five Quaker gentlemen, led by Joseph Pease. They planned to create a town of 5000 with a port to allow shipment of coal from the South Durham collieries to London and other markets. New quays were built, in deeper water, and nearer the sea than the old staiths at Stockton. The Stockton and Darlington Railway was extended to the new site which, at the time, was known as Port Darlington. Pease quickly realised the potential of the site for further development. A subsidiary company was set up to develop the land, and they commissioned Richard Otley to plan the town. The first house was built in West Street in April 1830. Within 10 years, annual coal exports increased from estimated 10,000 tons to 1.5m tons. By 1841, the population of Middlesbrough stood at 5,463. The first parish church, St. Hilda's had been constructed, along with a market and a new dock had been cut into the Tees. A firm of Ironworkers, Bolckow and Vaughan had also opened a foundry.

Though initially successful, Middlesbrough's coal-exporting trade suffered a marked decline as the new network of railways proved able to move coal more efficiently than by Port Darlington's seaward route. However, the discovery of iron ore at Eston and in the Cleveland Hills, coupled with the recognition of its usability by Vaughan converted Middlesbrough almost overnight from a coal town to an iron town. Situated on a navigable river with both coalfields and ironstone within easy reach, no town could have been more favourably located for an iron making centre.

When the first blast furnace came into operation in 1851, 3000 tons of ironstone were processed daily. By 1861, there were over 40 furnaces in the district, with an annual output of 500,000 tons of pig-iron. The population at this time stood at 18,892, and by 1871, swollen by the influx of ironworkers from Durham, Staffordshire, Scotland and South Wales was 39,284.

The phenomenal growth was accompanied by a chaotic rush of (inferior) house building, with rows of terraces being sandwiched between the back gardens of existing houses. As its population and industrial success grew, the grid iron pattern of streets and municipal buildings spread south until the new Town Hall and Railway Station, built in 1887 and 1877 respectively, were no longer in the central position as originally planned.

The self-contained production of pig-iron began to fade after the 1870s, when steel and foreign competition cast a shadow over the ironmaster's world. Iron was henceforth not being used for railroads, though was still in demand by the shipbuilding industry. Iron, however, remained dominant on Teeside until the late 1870s when the process of making steel from phosphoric iron ore (as found here) was successfully demonstrated at Bolckow-Vaughan's works in 1879. By the end of the century, Dorman and Long had appeared. They took advantage of the rising tide of steel and also pursued some mergers and acquisitions.

There were other industries. The Middlesbrough Pottery Company was founded in 1834 and was in production until 1857. Shipyards sprang up, namely Harkness, Dixons, Rake Kimber and J G Holmes. Industry associated with the Cleveland Docks were developed, and later salt and chemical production came into being.

In the 20th Century, the transport network was developed, with two bridges over the Tees being built. The first was the now synonymous Transporter Bridge (1911), and later, in 1934, the Newport Bridge. The Dorman museum was opened in 1904, and the library in 1912. Growth ceased during the Second World War, following the 1930s slump. After the war, housing was thinned, new suburbs were built, and much of the industrial blight ameliorated. Much of the current townscape dates from this postwar period.

Life of an Ironworker, circa 1900

Ironworkers started work from about the age of sixteen. At their peak strength (age 20-40), they would be employed in the most physically demanding tasks, which would attract the most pay. As their strength declined, they would be shifted to lesser tasks, and paradoxically (by comparison to modern customs) their pay would decrease, as it was linked solely to their exertions, and not to experience.

The environment they worked in was grim, with heavy air pollution, extreme heat and cold, and continuous noise. The Ironworks were a place of great danger, where accidents involving heavy machinery, or molten iron would generally be serious. Men would typically work 8 hours shifts, either 6am to 2pm, 2pm to 10pm or 10pm to 6am. The Ironworks would never close, not even on Sundays as the startup costs of the furnaces were too great.

The table below lists and describes the various trades that would be found at an ironworks. Wage figures have been extracted from At the Works by Lady Florence Bell, wife of Hugh Bell, Ironfounder. This book, published in 1907, gives a detailed insight into the life of families associated with the Iron industry.

There are 43 census records available for the last name Middlesbrough. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Middlesbrough census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 8 immigration records available for the last name Middlesbrough. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 4 military records available for the last name Middlesbrough. For the veterans among your Middlesbrough ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

There are 43 census records available for the last name Middlesbrough. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Middlesbrough census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 8 immigration records available for the last name Middlesbrough. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 4 military records available for the last name Middlesbrough. For the veterans among your Middlesbrough ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

Historical Football Kits

Middlesbrough was formed at a meeting in the Albert Park Hotel by members of the town's cricket club. The first recorded game took place in 1877, a 1-1 draw with Teeside Wanderers. The earliest known colours we know of are blue and black jersey recorded in Charles Alcock's Football Annual of 1879.

In May 2016 Richard Collinson submitted a report from the North-Eastern Daily Gazette (15th May 1886) that states, "the costume of the players shall consist of blue pants and white shirt, with blue trimmings and borough arms" (emphasis added). Evidence suggests the blue collars were adorned with white polka-dots and two examples can be seen in the team photograph here.

In October 1890 the team wore "new colours of navy jerseys" but reports from January 1891 confirm they were again wearing white shirts.

As professionalism took a grip on the game in the north during the late 1880s, Middlesbrough remained firmly committed to amateurism and as a result, a faction of the club broke away to form Middlesbrough Ironopolis in 1889. The rivalry between the two clubs was intense: Middlesbrough rejected a proposal from Ironopolis to merge the clubs and themselves turned professional. It was obvious that the town could not support two professional sides and in 1892, Middlesbrough reverted to amateurism. Meanwhile, Ironopolis joined the Football League in 1893 only to resign for financial reasons at the end of the season when the club was wound up.

A metal pin badge found by Jonathon Auty confirms that the club had adopted a a badge based on the town's coat of arms. The lion represents the Brus family who had substantial holdings after the Norman Conquest in northern England and south-west Scotland and from whom Robert the Bruce (Robert de Brus) was descended. The ships represent the town's association with shipbuilding and maritime trade.

Following the demise of Ironoplis, Middlesbrough became the town's dominant club and they went on to win the Northern League in 1893, 1895 and 1897 as well as the Amateur Cup in 1895 and 1898. The following year, Middlesbrough, now a professional outfit once again, were elected to the Second Division of the Football League. In 1902, "Boro" won promotion to the First Division and a year later moved into Ayrsome Park, which would be the club's home for the next 93 years. In 1905, the club paid out a record £1,000 transfer fee to sign Alf Common. Their best ever League position was achieved in 1914 when the team finished third in Division One.

The club were at best an average First Division side and it was no surprise when they were relegated in 1924. 1927 saw them return as Second Division champions. Relegated again at the end of the season, "Boro" took the Division Two championship again in 1929. They remained in the First Division without ever really threatening to win anything. In 1958 the young Brian Clough made his debut for the club and proved a goal-scoring sensation only to have his playing career cut short by injury.

The rather crude drawing on the right indicates that the club crest had remained fundamentally unchanged since the Victorian era but this never appeared on the players' shirts.

In 1964 Boro' adopted white yokes on their shirts, a reminder of the distinctive "epaulettes" worn between the wars.

In 1966, Middlesbrough dropped into the third Division for the first time in their history, winning promotion back to the Second Division at the first attempt.

In 1971 a crest appeared on the players' shirts, consisting of the traditional lion rampant.

In 1973 England World Cup hero Jack Charlton was appointed manager and at the end of the 1973-74 season, Middlesbrough were promoted back to the top level as Second Division Champions. It was Charlton who introduced the distinctive all red kit with a bold white chest band, a style that has been revived several times and is still favoured by Boro fans. A rather skinny lion was enhanced with "MFC" and rendered in red. A rather more well-proportioned version appeared a few years later.

The team made little impression and in 1982, they dropped into Division Two and then, four years later, facing mounting debts, Division Three and went into liquidation. On August 23rd the receivers locked the gates of Ayrsome Park and the club faced expulsion from the League if they failed to fulfil their fixture against Port Vale. The match was played at Hartlepools United's ground and a consortium led by Steve Gibson stepped in to save the club. To mark the rebirth, a new crest was adopted that included the year that the new limited company was formed.

A year later, Middlesbrough were promoted back to Division Two. Even more remarkably, in 1988 they achieved promotion to Division One through the play-offs. Even though they lasted only one season at the top, it was a truly remarkable recovery.

In the early 1990s Middlesbrough were promoted and relegated with bewildering regularity, unable to consolidate at the highest level. In 1995, however, former England captain Bryan Robson took over as manager and the club returned to the Premier League. Some important international signings were made including Brazilian Footballer of the Year, Juninho and (a year later) Fabrizio Ravanelli. Together with the completion of their brand new, 30,000 seater Riverside Stadium, Boro had found a sense of ambition. In 1997 they were beaten finalists in both the FA and League Cups, appearing in the League Cup final again the following year. In 2004, at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Middlesbrough beat Bolton 2-1 to win the League Cup, their first major trophy in 128 years of existence.

For the 2007-08 season, the club introduced a new badge to replace the roundel introduced when the club was reformed in 1986. The central lion rampant motif was retained but now appeared out of a shield with a scroll at the bottom. Significantly the year of the formation club's original formation now appeared.

Following a vote of their supporters, the club announced their intention to return to their white chest band for the 2008-09 season but this talisman could not save them from relegation to the Championship. Unable to secure a sponsor in the 2010-11 season, the club arranged a number of short-term deals until Ramsdens stepped in.

After a seven-year spell in the Championship, 'Boro were promoted back to the Premier League in 2016 but lost their place after one season.


The club was founded in 1876 by Middlesbrough Amateur Cricket Club. The first official match is played the following year against Teesside Wanderers at Old Archery Ground, ending in a draw.

Middlesbrough entered the FA Cup for the first time for the 1883-84 season, but they would partly remain as an amateur club until 1899 and winning the FA Amateur Cup twice during this period (1895 and 1898).

The North Yorkshire team became a member of the Football League in 1899 and played their first season in the second division. They reach the top-tier for the first time in 1902 and their best Division One position is a third place, which happened in 1914.

In 1973, the eminent Jack Charlton is appointed as a new manager. Among famous players in modern times, Bryan Robson (1994–1996, and later manager), Fabrizio Ravanelli (1996–1997) and Juninho Paulista (1995–1997, 1999, 2002-2004) can be mentioned.

In 1986, the club was facing a bankruptcy. It was followed by a shift of ownership and a reconstruction. The club had to start over in Division 3, but would climb their way up and played in the Premier League season 1996-97.

The logo uses a crest with a stylized red lion in the center. The same depiction of a lion (although blue) can be seen in the Middlesbrough coat of arms – the lion is a common heraldic feature and can be seen in crest belonging to clubs such as Aston Villa, Chelsea and Rangers.

Middlesbrough FC timeline

1876 The club is established (named Middlesbrough Amateur Cricket Club).
1883 First FA Cup participation.
1889 Member of the Football League.
1902 First season in Football League First Division.
1903 The club move to the Ayrsome Park.
1905 The sign of Alf Common become a new national transfer record (£1,000).
1989 The transfer of Gary Pallister to Manchester United for £2.3 million become a new national transfer record.
1995 The club move to the Riverside Stadium.
2004 Winning their first League Cup trophy.
2006 Reaching the UEFA Cup final.


Football clubs also founded in 1876

Middlesbrough’s history and heritage

Middlesbrough has a proud social history. It’s a place which welcomed workers from across the world to build its foundations. These people have made Middlesbrough the diverse place it is today, and an increasing student population and growing business community reinforces Middlesbrough as a place to build a bright future.

The term ‘Ironopolis’ is synonymous with the people of Middlesbrough – a place that grew from the discovery of ironstone to become one of the world’s most powerful steel and iron producers. That legacy is at the heart of many structures and buildings across the world, from Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Tyne Bridge.

The Tees Transporter Bridge is Middlesbrough’s most famous and iconic landmark, and a symbol of pride to the people of the town. It is the longest working transporter bridge in the world, and is a tourist attraction as well as being a key link between Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees. Visitors to the bridge can ride in a glass lift to the top to take in the stunning views from 50m above the River Tees.

Since the rapid growth of Middlesbrough in the 1830s, the town’s industrial and social heritage can be seen in the heart of Middlesbrough’s historic quarter where original ornate buildings line the streets with historic charm. Middlesbrough Town Hall was officially opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales on 23 January 1889 and still forms the proud heart of civic life in the centre of Middlesbrough. After extensive renovations it reopened in 2018 with many of its beautiful original features restored, including the courtroom (make sure to look up at the ceiling!), the old fire station, and the old police cells.

Teesside Archives holds thousands of documents on the history of Middlesbrough (and Stockton, Hartlepool, and Redcar & Cleveland), both pre- and post-Industrial Revolution.

Just a short drive away from the centre of Middlesbrough, Acklam Hall is a stunning Grade 1 listed building which was built in 1683. Originally a grand ancestral home and later a school, it has been impressively and painstakingly restored to its original grandeur and is one of the North East’s award-winning wedding venues.

Acklam Hall exterior

Talented Harry is dancing his way to Rome!

Boro boy Harry Henderson has made it to the finals of the The Dance World Cup 2020! We spoke to him about his ambitions and his incredible journey, which has started right here in Middlesbrough.


Place-name: Possibly ‘the middlemost fortification’. Mid(e)lesburc(h) –burgh [1114吤], Middelburg(h) 1273, c.1291, 1613, 1846, Middlesbrough from 1407. Old English midleste + burh. The significance of the name is not understood, but the older explanation ‘Midele’s fortification’ depends on a hypothetical Old English personal name not independently recorded.

Information about this place-name was provided by Victor Watts by personal communication.

Domesday Book

The name Middlesbrough does not appear in the Domesday Book, although the nearby Acklam, Marton, Ormesby, Nunthorpe, Coulby, Hemlington and Stainsby are all mentioned. It is possible that some of the landholdings that were listed under Acklam were part of Middlesbrough, but these cannot be identified from the Domesday record.

Based on William Farrer’s translation in “The Victoria History of the County of York” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1912).

Early Landowners

King Henry I granted Middlesbrough to Robert de Brus, along with extensive holdings across Cleveland. In 1119 Brus granted the church of Middlesbrough along with a carucate of land (roughly 100 acres or possibly more) to Whitby Abbey. In the thirteenth century the monks of Whitby were said to hold half of the township of Middlesbrough. When the monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII, the lands of Middlesbrough changed hands several times until they came into the possession of the Robinson family in 1572. The Robinsons held the manor of Middlesbrough until the 18th century.

An Early Mention

In the inquisition that was held after the death of Peter de Brus in 1272 it was stated that “The Abbot of Wyteby has the church of Middelburg with a moiety of the same town in pure almoigne”. (A “moiety of the . . . .town” means half of the village property and “in pure almoigne” means with nothing to pay either in rent or in kind.)

See “The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Yorkshire North Riding” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1923).

Another early mention appeared in the returns of the Select Committee on the Education of the Poor in 1818. “Acklam: The children attend a school in the adjoining parish of Middlesbrough, but there are a few families without the means of instruction, and would be glad to possess them.” The school referred to may have been the village school in Linthorpe that William Fallows attended as a boy.

The Lay Subsidy of 1301:

Middlesbrough was lumped together with Newham for the purposes of this government tax. It is usually reckoned that only a third or a quarter of property holders were named in the lay subsidy returns. If these estimates are correct, there must have been 40 or 50 heads of families in Middlesbrough and Newham, since 13 are named in the tax records. Middlesbrough was not a wealthy place apparently, with only one taxpayer, William Orre, paying more than 4 shillings in tax, and the total for Middlesbrough and Newham amounting to just 23 shillings.

Derived from “Yorkshire Lay Subsidy” edited by W.Brown (Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series) (1897).

Selected Buildings

Church of St. John the Evangelist (1865)

Offices in Exchange Square (1872)

New Exchange Buildings (1874)

Bell Brothers’ Offices (1891)

Victoria Road School (1892)

Dorman Memorial Museum (1904)

Park Methodist Church (1905)

The Transporter Bridge (1911)

Constantine Technical College (1929)

The Cleveland Centre (1972)

Middlesbrough College (2008)

A Few Lost Buildings

Middlesbrough Priory (1119) demolished in the 18th century.

The Ship Inn (1831) partially demolished in 2018.

St. Hilda (1838) demolished in 1969.

Centenary Methodist chapel (1838) demolished in 1959.

North Riding Infirmary (1859) demolished in 2006.

Wesley Chapel (1863) demolished in 1954.

The Oxford Palace of Varieties (1867) bombed in an air raid in 1941 and subsequently demolished.

The Royal Exchange (1868) demolished in 1985.

St. Paul’s church (1871) demolished in 1967.

West Lane Hospital (1875) demolished in 2000.

Trinity Presbyterian church (1875) demolished in 1988.

St. Mary’s R.C. cathedral (1878) demolished after a fire in 2000.

Zion Love Methodist New Connexion church (1883, later became the Cleveland Scientific Institute) demolished in 2006.

Hugh Bell School (1892) demolished in 1969.

St. George’s Congregational church (1894) demolished in 1980.

Grand Opera House (1903, later converted to a cinema) demolished in 1971.

Tower House Department Store (1910) demolished in 1987.

Public Swimming Baths (1933) demolished in 1998.

Odeon Cinema (1939) demolished in 1969.

Some People of Note

John Hexham ( ? -1555) A monk who became Prior of Middlesbrough Priory and then Abbot of Whitby. At the dissolution of the monasteries he retired to live in Middlesbrough where he was a considerable property holder.

George Robinson (fl. 1596-1619) A landowner who inherited the manor of Middlesbrough in 1596. He commissioned the first known map of Middlesbrough in 1619. He lived at the Middlesbrough Farm.

Richard Otley (1791-1849) A Darlington man who who was a key figure in the development of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. In 1830 he drew up the plan for the new town of Middlesbrough and in 1834 he began the Middlesbrough Pottery.

William Fallows (1797-1889) The man who became known as “the father of Middlesbrough and of the Tees” was born in Sleights. He played a prominent role in the early development of Middlesbrough and the conservancy work on the River Tees. He became mayor of Middlesbrough in 1859.

Joseph Pease (1799-1872) A Quaker businessman from Darlington who envisaged a new town at Middlesbrough. He was the principal member of the Owners of the Middlesbrough Estate and he served as M.P. for South Durham from 1832 to 1841.

John Vaughan (1799-1869) An ironmaster from Worcester who pioneered the successful exploitation of Eston ironstone. With Henry Bolckow he found Bolckow Vaughan and Company. He became Middlesbrough’s third mayor.

Henry Bolckow (1806-1878) An ironmaster from Mecklenburg. Bolckow Vaughan and Company operated a large ironworks along Vulcan Street in Middlesbrough. Bolckow became Middlesbrough’s first mayor and first M.P. He built Marton Hall.

Bernhard Samuelson (1820-1905) A German-born ironmaster who built the Newport Ironworks in 1863 and the Britannia Ironworks in 1870. He was knighted in 1884.

Edgar Gilkes (1821-1894) A Gloucestershire ironmaster who founded the Tees-side Iron and Engine Works in Middlesbrough. His career was blighted by the collapse of the Tay Railway Bridge in 1879. It had been built with iron supplied by Gilkes’ company.

Robert Lisle Kirby (1839-1915) The secretary of Bell Brothers who became a promoter of education in Middlesbrough and wrote Ancient Middlesbrough which was published in 1900. Kirby Grammar School for Girls was named in his honour.

Amos Hinton (1844-1919) A grocer from Hertfordshire who established a highly successful chain of grocery stores in Middlesbrough and several other Teesside towns. He became mayor of Middlesbrough in 1886.

Hugh Bell (1844-1931) An ironmaster from Walker-on-Tyne who ran Bell Brothers’ ironworks at Port Clarence. He became Chairman of Dorman Long and Company and Chairman of the London and North Eastern Railway. He was mayor of Middlesbrough three times.

Arthur Dorman (1848-1931) An ironmaster from Kent who formed Dorman Long and Company which became one of the largest steelmaking companies in the world. In 1914 the firm employed 20,000 men. They became famous as bridge builders. Arthur Dorman was knighted in 1918.

Florence Bell (1851-1930) A writer of more than forty works who was born in Paris. She published “At the Works”, a study of the working families of Middlesbrough in 1907 and she pioneered the Middlesbrough Winter Gardens.

John Burn (1853-1925) An Anglican priest from Sunderland who was Vicar of All Saints in Middlesbrough for 40 years. He worked tirelessly to support families suffering hardship during the trade depression of 1907-8. It was estimated that 25,000 people lined the streets for his funeral.

Frederick Hardisty (1855-1930) An accountant from Harrogate, Fred Hardisty is remembered as one of the founding fathers of Middlesbrough football club.

Sarah Anne Calvert (1858-1927) Annie Calvert was Middlesbrough’s longest serving mayoress. She was largely responsible for the establishment of the Maternity Home, and supported the local child welfare clinics. She was one of Middlesbrough’s first two women magistrates.

Minnie Levick (1871-1961) A Londoner who became well known as a Middlesbrough doctor and councillor. She opened several maternity clinics, culminating in the opening of the Middlesbrough Maternity Home in 1920. In 1944 she was made an M.B.E.

Edith Carter Owen (1872-1951) The daughter of Middlesbrough mayor Thomas Carter. In 1926 she fulfilled her father’s wish when she founded the Carter Bequest Hospital. She was made a Freeman of the Borough in 1934.

Alice Schofield Coates (1881-1975) A women’s suffrage activist, born in Lancashire, who became Middlesbrough’s first woman councillor. She was one of the campaigners who helped to set up the Parkside Maternity Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Frank Elgee (1880-1944) A North Ormesby-born educator, writer and museum curator. His researches and writings on the archaeology of the North York Moors inspired later generations. He was curator of the Dorman Memorial Museum from 1923 to 1933.

Naomi Jacob (1884-1964) A writer from Ripon who worked as a schoolteacher in Middlesbrough for several years. She wrote over seventy novels, including “The Beloved Physician” which is set in a fictionalised version of Middlesbrough.

Andrew Wilson (1896-1973) A Scottish footballer who began his professional career at Middlesbrough. After a transfer to Dunfermline he returned to play at Middlesbrough. In the 1921-22 season he was the top goalscorer in the then First Division, now known as the Premier League.

Marcus Langley (1903-1977) An aircraft engineer from Middlesbrough. In 1931 he published his first book Metal Aircraft Design. He supervised the design of the De Havilland T.K.1 and T.K.2 which flew in air races in the 1930s. He was later the technical director of Beagle-Auster aircraft.

Denis Hamilton (1918-1988) Sir Denis Hamilton was a journalist from South Shields who grew up in Middlesbrough. As editor of the Sunday Times he introduced the first colour supplement. He was knighted in 1976 and became chairman of Reuters three years later.

Donald Revie (1927-1989) Don Revie was a footballer and football manager from Middlesbrough. While playing for Manchester City he was picked for England six times. As manager of Leeds United in the late 60s and early 70s he enjoyed so much success that he was appointed as the England team manager.

Ann Jellicoe (1927- ) A playwright who was born in Middlesbrough. She wrote The Knack which later was made into a successful film.

Brian Clough (1935-2004) A Middlesbrough-born footballer who became a prolific goal-scorer for his hometown club. He had a successful career as a football manager.

Denis Neale (1944- ) A table tennis player from Middlesbrough who was English national champion six times and with Mary Wright won a bronze medal at the 1969 World Table Tennis Championships.

Alan Old (1944- ) A rugby player from Middlesbrough who played for England sixteen times. He played in two victories over the All Blacks, including one by the North of England at Otley in 1979. He also played cricket for Durham in 40 matches and once for Warwickshire.

Christopher Old (1948- ) A cricketer from Middlesbrough. As a bowler, Chris Old played for England 46 times. As a batsman, while playing for Yorkshire in 1977, he scored one of the fastest centuries ever in professional cricket, including fifty runs in 9 minutes.

Mackenzie Thorpe (1956- ) A Middlesbrough-born artist whose work has made him one of the most popular northern artists.

Carole Knight (1957- ) A table tennis player from Middlesbrough who was English national champion three times and represented England twice at the world championships.

William Athey (1957- ) A cricketer from Middlesbrough. Bill Athey played for Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and Sussex and played for England in 23 test matches. He scored more than 25,000 runs in his first class career.

Rory Underwood (1963- ) A Middlesbrough-born rugby player who scored 44 tries in 49 games for Middlesbrough. He was transferred to Leicester where his international career began. He played for England a record 85 times and scored a record 49 tries.

Chris Newton (1973- ) A Middlesbrough-born cyclist who represented the United Kingdom at four Olympic Games, winning a silver medal in the team pursuit and two bronze medals. In 2002 he became an individual world champion in the points race.

The Hearth Tax of 1673

These government tax returns show that Middlesbrough over 300 years ago was a village with 15 houses. Of these, 12 were small houses with just a single hearth, while 2 other houses had 2 hearths. By far the largest was the house of “Mr Geo Robinson” which had 8 hearths. This building may have been part of the conventual buildings of Middlesbrough’s medieval priory , converted to serve as a private dwelling.

See “The Hearth Tax List for the North Riding of Yorkshire, Michaelmas 1673, Ripon Historical Society (2011).


Slater’s Directory of 1855 listed, among others, 42 general shopkeepers, 30 butchers, 12 grocers, 9 greengrocers, 4 bakers, 4 confectioners, 4 millers, 3 flour dealers, 6 chemists and druggists, 4 newsagents, 25 boot and shoe makers, 6 drapers, 14 tailors and drapers, 4 milliners and dress makers, 3 straw bonnet makers, 7 hairdressers, 2 booksellers and stationers, 7 china and glass dealers, 2 watch and clock makers, 3 furniture dealers, 4 ironmongers, 2 plumbers and glaziers, 2 blackmiths, 5 whitesmiths, 2 cartwrights, 2 coopers, 2 marine store dealers, 5 ship chandlers, 4 sail makers, 10 joiners and builders and 4 stone masons. There were also 36 taverns and public houses and 9 beer retailers.

Ward’s Directory of 1936 listed, among others, more than 40 general shopkeepers, more than 70 butchers, more than 90 grocers and 40 greengrocers, 30 bakers, more than 40 confectioners, more than 20 chemists, more than 30 newsagents, more than 50 boot and shoe makers and 50 drapers, more than 40 tailors, more than 20 dressmakers, costumiers and milliners, a dozen booksellers and stationers, 7 china shops, 15 watchmakers, 13 furniture dealers, 5 jewellers, 19 tobacconists, 13 hardware dealers, 16 pawnbrokers and more than 20 coal merchants. There were also 8 wireless dealers. This is far from the complete list.

A Selection of Dates

686 Possible religious building at Middlesbrough.

1119 Foundation of Middlesbrough Priory by Robert de Brus.

1439 Middlesbrough’s oldest will dates from this year.

1537 Probable date for the dissolution of Middlesbrough Priory.

1539 John Hexham, former Abbot of Whitby leased Middlesbrough Priory and its land.

1619 The oldest surviving map of Middlesbrough bears this date.

1716 The Lordship of Acklam Plan was made. It includes the parish of Middlesbrough.

1828 Joseph Pease visited Middlesbrough to assess its suitability as a coaling port. A company known as the Owners of the Middlesbrough Estate was established in 1829 to develop the port.

1830 The Stockton and Darlington Railway reached Middlesbrough.

1833 James Laing began building ships at his Middlesbrough shipyard.

1834 The Middlesbrough Pottery was established.

1838 The foundation stone of St. Hilda’s church was laid..

1840 Bolckow and Vaughan established an ironworks in Middlesbrough.

1842 Middlesbrough Dock was opened.

1846 Middlesbrough town hall was built in the centre of the market place.

1849 The Society of Friends’ meeting house in Wilson Street came into use.

1851 Bolckow and Vaughan erected a blast furnace at South Bank to smelt Cleveland ironstone.

1853 Middlesbrough was granted a charter of incorporation and became a borough.

William Harkess established a shipyard at Middlesbrough.

1859 Sister Mary Jaques set up a cottage hospital.

1863 Bolckow, Vaughan and Company began extracting salt at Middlesbrough.

1864 Newport Ironworks was constructed.

1865 The church of St. John the Evangelist was consecrated.

1866 Newport wire works was established by Richard Hill.

1867 The Oxford Palace of Varieties opened.

1868 Albert Park was opened. Henry Bolckow became Middlesbrough’s first M.P.

Paradise Mission (United Methodist Free Church) in Milton Street was dedicated.

1870 John Gjers and John Mills founded the Ayresome Ironworks in the Ironmasters’ District.

1872 The first recorded match for Middlesbrough Rugby Club was played this year.

1873 Raylton Dixon established the Cleveland Dockyard which built 600 ships in 50 years.

1875 Arthur Dorman and Albert de Lande Long founded Dorman Long and Company at the West Marsh Ironworks in the Ironmasters’ District.

1876 Middlesbrough Football Club was formed.

1877 Middlesbrough’s new railway station came into service. Middlesbrough High School opened.

1878 The Roman Catholic Cathedral was opened to serve the new Diocese of Middlesbrough.

1879 The Gilchrist-Thomas process for steelmaking was demonstrated at Middlesbrough.

1889 A new town hall was built at the corner of Albert Road and Corporation Road.

1892 Durham Street Mission was opened. Newport Settlement was established in Cannon Street.

Cannon Street Salvation Army Barracks came into use.

1898 There was a smallpox epidemic in the town. Electric trams began running between North Ormesby and Norton via Middlesbrough. The Middlesbrough Asylum on Marton Road was opened.

1899 The Empire Theatre of Varieties was opened.

1901 The ornamental garden at Victoria Square was laid out as a public park.

1903 The first football match was played at the new Ayresome Park stadium.

The Grand Opera House opened. It was converted to the Gaumont Cinema in the 1920s.

1904 The Dorman Memorial Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time.

1908 The Hippodrome Theatre was opened. The Cleveland Hall began showing films.

1911 The Transporter Bridge began ferrying passengers and vehicles across the River Tees.

Kirby Grammar School for Girls was opened.

1912 The Central Library was opened.

1919 Middlesbrough cricket club won the North Yorkshire and South Durham Cricket League for the first time. They won the title eight times in the 20th century.

1923 Middlesbrough’s last remaining shipyards (Harkess’ and Dixon’s) closed.

1925 The town’s first annual Corpus Christi Procession took place. The last was in 1971.

1926 St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church was consecrated.

1930 The Prince of Wales opened the Constantine Technical College. The Holgate Infirmary was developed as Middlesbrough General Hospital.

1934 The Tees (Newport) Bridge was opened to traffic. St. Thomas’ Church was consecrated.

Middlesbrough’s last tram ran.

1937 The United bus station on Newport Road came into service.

1939 Middlesbrough fire brigade moved into a new purpose-built fire station.

1942 The railway station was severely damaged by enemy bombing during the Second World War.

1953 Steelmaking ended at Dorman Long’s Britannia Works.

1955 Stainsby School was opened. It was the first of more than a dozen secondary schools built in the suburbs of Middlesbrough during the 1950s and 1960s.

1958 The municipal art gallery was opened.

1959 Middlesbrough Market ceasing trading.

1963 The Duke of Edinburgh opened Clairville Stadium athletics ground. It was demolished in 2015.

1965 The last blast furnaces in the Ironmasters’ District ceased production.

1966 Ayresome Park football ground hosted some of the World Cup matches in this year.

1969 St. Hilda’s church was demolished.

1970 Teesside Polytechnic enrolled its first students. In 1992 the polytechnic became a university.

1973 Teesside Magistrate’s court came into use. The Cleveland Centre was completed.

1976 St. Michael’s Church closed and was re-opened as a Mosque. Middlesbrough Rugby club won the Yorkshire Cup.

1979 Teessaurus Park was laid out.

1980 Middlesbrough Dock was closed to cargo ships.

1981 South Cleveland Hospital was opened. The Hill Street Centre was completed.

1982 Middlesbrough won the Britain in Bloom contest for the second time.

1985 The Royal Exchange was demolished to make way for the A66 main road.

1990 The first Middlesbrough Mela was held in the town hall.

1991 The new County Court building on Russell Street came into use.

1993 The Bottle of Notes sculpture in the Central Gardens was unveiled.

1995 Middlesbrough Football Club moved to the Riverside Stadium.

1999 The Captain Cook Square shopping centre was opened.

2000 Middlesbrough Cathedral was demolished after an arson attack.

2004 Middlesbrough football club won the League Cup.

2007 The Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art was opened.

2008 Middlesbrough College moved into its new premises beside the dock.

2015 Middlesbrough Sports Village was opened.

This list of events was compiled using several works by Paul Stephenson, Norman Moorsom and other local historians.

Suggested Further Reading

“Ancient Middlesbrough” R.L.Kirby (1900)

“At the Works” Lady F.Bell (1907)

“The History of Middlesbrough” W.Lillie (1968)

“Middlesbrough’s History in Maps” Cleveland and Teesside Local History Society (1980)

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