Community Clean Ups

One Planet Pioneers are launching ‘Community Action Days’ this month. One Planet Pioneers are looking to work with communities across Middlesbrough to help them improve their neighbourhood. Whether it’s a simple litter pick or a community garden make over, no task will be too small.

New for 2017 Community Action Days are to be held on the last Friday of each month between 10am -3pm. The first ‘Community Action Day’ will take place on Friday 27th January 2017, working in partnership with River Tees Rediscovered they are looking for young people along with their friends and family to come along and help improve a section of Ormesby Beck along Teesdale Way.

Anyone that is interested is asked to meet at the Navigation Inn car park, Marsh Road at 10am. That is a location that will be familiar to many Boro fans as the pub is quite close to the Riverside Stadium. During the day volunteers will be clearing litter and vegetation, improving the beck to ensure clear water movement.

Nicky Morgan, One Planet Pioneers Officer contacted us about the action days and we thought we would like to know a little bit more about both the Community Action Days and One Planet Pioneers. So we fired off a few questions in Nicky’s direction. You can read the short Q and A below.

Q: Could you give me just a few words about who One Planet Pioneers are-

Nicky: ‘One Planet Pioneers is a 5 yr project aimed at 14-21 year olds who live in Middlesbrough; locally we are working in partnership with Tees Valley Wildlife Trust and Actes. Nationally we are one of 31 other Our Bright Future Programs coordinated by Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and Funded via Big Lottery

One Planet Pioneers are a combination of volunteers and apprentices who are developing and broadening their skills and gain occupational knowledge while carrying out conservation, sustainability, environmental and horticultural activities.

Along with the occupational skill our young people are engaging with other members of the wider community and developing many soft skills including communication skill, teamwork and discovering their place in the world.

 Q: What is your role in Middlesbrough?

Nicky: ‘OPP is all about improving the life chances of all young people who live in Middlesbrough, we want to work with young people from across the whole community from TS1 to TS8. We are here to help young people gain the skills and build confidence needed to move in to education or employment’

Q: The action day will improve the look of the environment visually but will it also help the Beck flow better as well as improving the wildlife habitat?

Nicky:  ‘Yes, we will be litter picking, removing any obstructions to water flow as long as safe to do so, along with cutting back/managing any overgrown vegetation’

Q: So would you say that you are providing tools, expertise and organisation to allow communities to maintain and improve their own neighborhood? 

Nicky: I and Casper Scallen from Middlesbrough Environment City will be on hand to provide Environmental, Horticultural and cleansing guidance, Christine Corbett (River Tees Rediscovered) will be on hand to offer guidance and information on Middlesbrough Becks and the importance of Ormesby Beck to Our great River Tees

All tools and gloves will be provided by OPP, Middlesbrough Council are supplying litter picker and rubbish bags, along with collecting all spoil/debris at the end of the day.

Anyone that wants to come along and help is advised to wear warm outdoor clothing and sturdy waterproof boots/shoe.

Q: How should community groups make contact to inquire about Action Days?

Nicky: Nicky Morgan or Casper Scallen – Telephone 01642 579839/579832  Mobile 07722746489


There has been a great deal of adverse publicity recently about fly-tipping, especially a horrific episode along the Middlesbrough bank of the Tees. These thoughtless actions can ruin the environment for everyone. It is great to know that there is a positive force for change out there giving communities the tools to clean up their own back yards.



374 years ago today….(16 January 1643)

…at the Battle of Guisborough a small force of Parliamentarians under Sir Hugh Cholmley of Scarborough and Whitby, following a march over the North York Moors from Malton, defeated the Royalist forces of Hemlington-based Guilford Slingsby.

Nearly 1000 men slogged it out in the fields, hedgerows and ditches to the south of the town with the Royalists eventually being overcome and losing a potential escort force for their arms convoys from Newcastle to York.

In the battle Slingsby was mortally wounded, having to have both his legs amputated and he died in Guisborough three days later.  His body was removed by his mother to York and he was buried in York Minster.

Following their success Cholmley sent a small force which would have taken the main route from Guisborough via Marton to Yarm, where, on 1 February they were defeated trying to hold the bridge against a much larger force escorting arms to York.


Author: Phil Philo, Senior Curator Middlesbrough Museums


30 Years On Chernobyl Exposed

Tomorrow is the final opportunity to view the revealing and actually quite shocking images captured when a group of north eastern artists visited the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 30 years on. The visit to Chernobyl by a group of northern artists and designers proved to be an inspirational experience, leading to an exhibition of their works at House of Blah Blah in Middlesbrough.

chernobyl2Last year a group of 14 artists – calling themselves the 26:86 Collective – visited the site of the world’s biggest nuclear disaster in the year of its 30th anniversary and documented the visit with film, photos and interviews.

This was a disaster that sent shock waves, quite literally around Europe and the globe. With nuclear fall out as close to our homes as Cumbria it certainly made us only too well aware of the fragility of our globe’s ecosystems and our shared atmosphere.

chernobyl-1The debates about nuclear power have raged ever since but exactly what has happened over in the disaster zone itself in Ukraine? The group of artists have reported back and through this exhibition we can see a nuclear plant and city frozen in time. It is a 20th century Soviet Pompeii in many senses that we see.

The multi-disciplined body of work – including photography, installations and graphic design work is a touring exhibition of ’30 Years On – Chernobyl Exposed’ for 26:86 Collective. It closes in House of Blah Blah at the end of tomorrow’s  session.

The exhibition is a personal response of each artist to the trip to Pripyat and Chernobyl in the Ukraine, and the research project and exhibitions will help raise awareness of the issues around nuclear energy.

Named after the day and year of the Chernobyl disaster, 26:86 Collective is made up of established and emerging artists and designers across the fields of illustrative and fine art, textiles, graphic design and photography.

To take two of the artists, Niall Kitching has created a series of striking soviet style propaganda banners. Niall says that in the abandoned city of Pripyat that the skyline is dominated by the message, “Let the Atom be a Worker, Not a Soldier.” Ironically it is said that there was a factory here making components for nuclear weapons from Chernobyl bi-products. Niall uses soviet style propaganda in his banner art to look at the secret and hidden meanings behind the words.

chernobyl-alysonTeesside artist and Cleveland College of Art lecturer Alyson Agar’s Ukranian Smile photo exhibition explores the capital city of Kiev through psychogeography wandering. Alyson documents green spaces and records accidental, or transient sculptural vistas in the townscape.

Claire Baker looks at the effects of time and abandonment of the evacuated homes but she also says Don’t Let History Repeat Itself as she shows with the destructive effects on material goods and building fabric from just ONE moment in time. And a moment that is 30 years ago!

chernobyl-pixThe exhibition seems even more poignant for its surroundings in the warehouse like House of Blah Blah. When I was there they were playing Joy Division and Velvet Underground so it did seem like we stepping inside a Cold War scenario.

Open 10-4pm tomorrow. House of Blah Blah, Exchange House, Exchange Square, Middlesbrough TS1 1DB

(Next to Teesside Archives and almost under the A66 fly over in the former GPO building.



A Weekend in Middlesbrough at Christmas

Geoff Vickers visited Middlesbrough just before Christmas and sent us this blog about the happy experience. Formerly Secretary of Middlesbrough Supporters South and working in financial services in the City, Geoff is a Boro season ticket holder travelling up for matches from the Home Counties. In December he decided to make a weekend of the trip to see Boro v Swansea with his partner Liz in December.

It is a rare chance to spend some time back in Middlesbrough. I have spent most of my Boro supporting life travelling from my home just North of London – almost always driving or taking the train up and back in one day.

orange pip aug 1A month or so ago I read an intriguing blog from a group of Bournemouth supporters who had spent an overnight stay on Teesside back in October before and after our game with them and indeed their glowing report on the town centre especially around Baker and Bedford Streets in the town centre.  I also read that Baker Street had been named as a “Rising Star” in The Great British High Street competition.

So it was the Swansea game just before Xmas that provided us with the perfect opportunity to spend a couple of days sampling for ourselves what the Cherries’ supporters had so enjoyed and have a night on the town in Middlesbrough. It turned out to be a very good weekend.

We booked into a town centre hotel – the Express at Holiday Inn opposite the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), which, as it turned out, was perfectly located for a weekend stay. The room overlooked a fine seasonal display of lights sparkling from the trees in front of MIMA. Perfect to place us in the Christmas mood.

We had lunch on the Friday at another establishment that has been enjoying media accolades. Chadwicks Inn in Maltby owned by Gary Gill, his wife Helen, manager Lee Tolley and head chef Jon Appleby. A super relaxing way to kick off the weekend and shake off the 220 mile drive North.

I am told properties in Baker and Bedford Street were taken over by the Local Authority over the last two years and have undertaken a funding programme of regeneration and refurbishment. The area has been completely rejuvenated and what a job they have done. Baker Street was first to receive its make-over in 2014 and neighbouring Bedford Street followed over the following months.

Rob (Nichols) offered to host us on the Friday night and an initial walk down the two streets was a real eye opener. There is a continental European feel about the area with an array of independent shops, bars and restaurants with every establishment  seemingly full with season revellers.  We met in Sherlocks on Baker Street,  a small intimate bar with couches and a small corner bar with an array of beers I hadn’t really seen in a pub in Middlesbrough outside of the Wetherspoons in town.  There was a good buzzing atmosphere coupled with some new beers locally brewed.  Immediately along the road is The Twisted Lip and across the road The Slaters Pick –more fantastic editions to the small beer pub scene. To give the street a Bohemian feel both sides are full of independent shops that are so crucial in retaining character to the locality, including  a vintage clothes shop,  a deli and a furniture retailer amongst them.

And so to the next street along and Bedford Street which has become a go to place to both eat and drink with an array of recommended eateries and the Chairman pub the latest beer pub introduction. And the town centre rejuvenation doesn’t stop at those two streets.  Dimi Konstantopoulos has just opened his modern greek eaterie “Great” on Linthorpe Road and Al Forno  and Oven around the corner are, amongst many other strong offerings. According to TripAdvisor Middlesbrough has 80 places to eat with 4 or more review stars.

Match day morning we enjoyed a really good breakfast over at MIMAs new bistro the Smeltery and sister restaurant to the Waiting Room in Eaglescliffe.  The weekend was rounded off by a fine 3-0 win against the Swans.

smeltery-kitchen-againI wanted to recount our experience, as Middlesbrough is no doubt becoming a serious weekend break destination that will only serve the town and local economy well. It is fantastic to see. I will come again before the season’s end and hope to try new places  Final mention of the hotel which is a fine ambassador for the town. The friendly welcome on reception and the hotel comfort was just top class. And as somebody who works in London fantastic value for money.

The Love Middlesbrough campaign is definitely working for me.

Blog originally printed in Fly Me To The Moon fanzine Issue 572 Boro v Leicester City 2/1/2017

Geoff Vickers


Beatrice Blore of Middlesbrough and the Winged Wheel Grave of Llandudno

We are delighted to publish a guest post from Dr Roger Bloor, the author of The Winged Wheel Grave of Llandudno. Dr Bloor is a retired consultant in Addiction Psychiatry and former Senior Lecturer at the University of Keele Medical School.

Introducing Dr Bloor: Following my retirement I was tempted to re-experience the joys of 1950’s childhood holidays in Llandudno and a visit to the Great Orme took in an exploration of St Tudno’s Church positioned high on the Orme with its magnificent views out to sea. As you enter the churchyard you cannot escape noticing the large white marble memorial in the shape of a Winged Wheel; closer inspection reveals that this is the final resting place of one Beatrice Blore Browne. So I started my mission to discover who Beatrice was and how she had merited such an unusual memorial. Although Beatrice and I share a surname phonetically it transpires that we are not directly related and my book explores Beatrice’s family origins, her life in Middlesbrough and Llandudno and reveals the reason for her Winged Wheel memorial.

On the windy summit of the Great Orme at Llandudno in Wales sits St Tudno’s Church with its graveyard commanding spectacular views over the open sea as the gulls whirl overhead.

One grave in particular has attracted much attention over the years, a white marble edifice carved in the form of a “winged wheel” set close to the entrance to the churchyard. The monument, the final resting place of one Beatrice Blore Browne, is intriguing and the inscription ” She feared naught but God” invites speculation as to who Beatrice was and how she came to have such an impressive memorial.

Beatrice’s story starts in the town of Middlesbrough in the 1840’s when her grandfather Robert Blore moved from Derby to work at the Middlesbrough earthenware Factory. Robert managed the factory until his death in 1868 and following his death his son Herbert took over as manager. Herbert and his wife Fanny had two children but sadly Fanny died in 1877. Herbert then remarried in 1883 to Annie Harrison and they had two children, Arthur and Beatrice.

Herbert died in 1890 and the 1891 census shows Annie living at 57 Lloyd Street Middlesbrough with Beatrice (aged 4) and Arthur (aged 7). In 1894 Annie, with a family to care for, married Edward Leach, an Irish man born in Cork in 1866 with whom she had two children Henry and Henrietta.

Edward was a trained electrician and at the turn of the century the introduction of electric lighting was producing increasing opportunities for such skilled tradesmen. Edward had secured a position as an electrician to the Llandudno Pier Company in North Wales and so it was that at the turn of the century that Beatrice Blore moved with her family to Llandudno.

The full story of Beatrice’s life in Middlesbrough and her subsequent life in Llandudno and the events which lead up to the erection of the Winged Wheel Grave memorial, a tribute to her feat of being the first woman to drive a motor car up the cable track of the Great Orme in Llandudno, are described in detail in the book ‘The Winged Wheel Grave of Llandudno’ .

The Blore family, through the work of Robert and Herbert, played an important part in the development and continuation of earthenware production at Middlesbrough for over 40 years. Robert’s skills as a ceramic modeler have been somewhat overlooked in previous descriptions of his role at Middlesbrough that have focused on his role as a manager. The surviving examples of his work during his time at Middlesbrough are in a very different style from that of the traditional Middlesbrough product and show the influence of his time at the Derby Factory and his early exposure to monumental sculpture in the Bridge Gate works of his father Joseph.

The ornate monumental style of the memorial to Robert’s granddaughter Beatrice is perhaps unwittingly a reflection of her ancestry and one that her forebears would have approved of.

The author’s book ‘The Winged Wheel Grave of Llandudno’ which is sold to raise funds for Breast Cancer UK is available from Amazon or direct from the author full details are on the website or via the Beatrice Blore Browne Facebook page.

Beatrice died at the very young age of 34 from Breast Cancer and all the profits from the book will go to the charity Breast Cancer UK.