From Stewart Park to ORMESBY HALL

In October there will be a guided park to park walk between Stewart Park and Ormesby Hall park. The event will be run as part of Discover Middlesbrough and will no doubt show the contrast between the 18th century landscaping on the Ormesby side of the beck and the Victorian and more recent planting in Stewart Park. I find the contrasts each side of the railway tracks to be fascinating.

I enjoyed a visit to Ormesby Hall over the Bank Holiday Weekend. It costs a little under £6 to visit the only National Trust property in our area. Bequeathed to the trust by Ruth Pennyman in the closing decades of the twentieth century the Trust have chosen to freeze the Georgian manor house in time to how the last owner left it. Therefore there are family portraits and lots of homely elements in rooms as well as the more ornate plasterwork of the ceilings and cornices.

You can go upstairs and downstairs in Ormesby Hall and wander through the servants work stations in the Victorian kitchen and laundry where the windows had shutters so that any underwear drying would not offend the eyes of passers by.

Upstairs there are a couple of superb working miniature railway layouts and even a reconstruction of the Ormesby Station. A much reduced halt still serves the public at the end of Marton Grove, once Station Road.

Ruth Pennyman was a remarkable lady in so many ways. She visited the Spanish Civil War and brought back war orphans to be looked after. The Pennyman’s did their bit to help in the Great Depression, establishing woodworking industries in East Cleveland to get the unemployed steel workers and ironstone miners back into work. There are many examples of the utilitarian furniture through the house alongside the historic chairs carrying the Pennyman coat of arms.

Upstairs, the guest bedrooms are in the colder north facing part of the great house. Ruth Pennyman placed little troughs of books that she assembled individually to what she reckoned were the tastes of the guests. Guests that included wartime Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain.

Looking out of the window of the top guest bedroom, directly over the front door as was the custom, you can just make out the Transporter Bridge. This is a reminder that much of the new industrial revolutionary town of Middlesbrough was built on land bought from the Pennyman estate. While the furnaces spring up and the migrant population poured in to work them Ormesby Hall remained in many ways rooted to the past. A nineteenth century map hanging up in the Map Room captures the explosion in developments on the former lands of the Pennyman estate while life continued as always in the south along winding back lanes.

Ormesby Hall was old money, bedrooms without running water, just commodes. No electricity, no heating, no real lighting. Next door in Marton Hall William Bolckow had refitted his mansion with all the mod cons. This was flashy new money. A showpiece house lit up like a Christmas tree – which no doubt a few green trees  brought with over from Bolckow’s native Germany. Marton Hall was filled with art treasures from all over Europe. It was built by a German architect. It like a mini Cragside, at the very cutting edge. Yet which of the two halls survives?

Park to Park walk – Stewart Park to Ormesby Hall – Thurs 30 Oct – 10.30am – 12.30pm • FREE Meet at Stewart Park Visitor Centre.

Ormesby Hall and the beautiful gardens are open on weekends through to the end of September 1.30-5pm. Admission to the National Trust house is £5.80. There is a very nice tea room for food and refreshments.


Dianne Bowell – Broken Down – Python Gallery

Tomorrow is the last chance to see a striking exhibition by probably one of our most thought-provoking artists. Dianne Bowell has painted a series of arresting portraits. She has captured private moments and private movements in a sensitive and revealing way. At the same time many of those images are deliberately blurred, maybe holding something back from our eyes.

There is intimacy in a woman waking from sleep, or another tender scene entitled cupid. Some of the paintings are streaked or flashed with paint and varnish, almost as if the figures half revealed have registered only on our peripheral vision.

Dianne is clearly a great technician, she conveys so well inner emotion but that effect is enhanced by the fact the outer shells of her portraits are extremely well drawn and painted. The monotones of many compositions serve to draw the focus into the inner state of the subjects.

The images of a woman braking down stare out in pain and almost swallow up the gallery. They are more colourful and in sharper focus and refuse to release you from their grip.

Dianne is a Gilkes Street Artist based in the Brentnall Centre and spent many long nights over the summer locked in her studio space preparing the paintings specially for this show. I think the results are pretty stunning actually.

Diane Bowell’s series of paintings Broken Down are on show at Python Gallery, which in case you didn’t know is 5 minutes walk from the Bridge Street side of Middlesbrough Railway station, in Royal Middlehaven House, a modern office block that once housed the old DSS.

Royal Middlehaven House Gosford Street TS2 1BB.

Open 9.30am-5pm – closes end of Friday 22 August



Zen and the Art of Beating Oldham

A large advertising hoarding painted on the roof of the stand facing the Boro fans last night, proclaiming ZEN (office supplies) there was certainly plenty of karma amongst the away fans watching another domineering performance and a good cup win. A much changed Boro side despatched Oldham from the Capital One Cup in ruthless fashion. Three very good goals scored and once again just as importantly, no shots on target from the opposition. Oh and a big mention for Kike stepping on from the bench and curling his shot past the Oldham keeper. With new signings waiting in the wings it is all going swimmingly for Boro at present.

I used swimmingly deliberately because it absolutely hoyed it down in Oldham last night. And it was several degrees and a jumper cooler than when we all set off from sunny Teesside late afternoon. The news filtered through as we crossed the Pennines that Aitor Karanka would retain a skeleton staff from Saturday’s win over Birmingham but with a glut of midweek games ahead bring in some fresh legs. Starts for Dimi, James Husband, Jonathan Woodgate, Luke Williams and a debut for young Brad Fewster as well as new buy Nsue. From Saturday we had Seb Hines, Ayala, Reach and the midfield base of Whitehead and Leadbitter, who sound like solicitors to me.

Boro dominated over Lee Johnson’s Latics from the very start. Whitehead and Leadbitter imposed a stranglehold in midfield. Reach pumped in crosses, Nsue ran at defenders. Our only problem was an inability to find Fewster or to get shots off or on target.

Luke Williams changed all that. The Teesville youngster only seems to score special goals. He hit a screamer that parted the rain before nestling into the top corner of the net. Great goal! The goal lifted Luke and the team’s confidence. Williams was to be involved in so much of our enterprising attacking play for the remainder of the game.

Leadbitter went close with a good turn and shot just wide of the post and we threatened a couple of times at corners. Oldham’s only threat posed came from a rare Boro error in defence but the final ball evaded the forward and went harmlessly out of play for a goal kick. At half time we were well in control but at 1-0 you are never really safe and secure.

Omeruo broke off from half time limbering up and came over and signed autographs for Boro youngsters. This is typical of the spirit flowing out of the camp at present. Sub Albert Adomah placed his shirt into a child’s hands at the final whistle in another fine gesture.

Boro killed off the tie almost immediately after the resumption. Luke Williams harried a defender into giving away a throw-in. He picked up the ball and quickly put in Adam Reach who cut in from the bye-line picking out Grant Leadbitter roaring into the box. Leadbitter thumped the ball into the far corner of the net to finish off a lovely team goal.

Both teams had been kept waiting in the cold, damp night as the officials took their time dismounting the steps from the dressing rooms in the old main stand. But Boro had now wasted no time in building a winning lead. There was now an opportunity to rest some more players before Saturday’s early bird kick off against Leeds. Reach was subbed and Kike was cheered onto the pitch by away fans that had been singing his name as he warmed up. The Spanish hit man lost no time in getting into the game. He picked up the ball and raced into the left hand side of the box before curling the ball past the keeper’s outstretched hands and in off the far post. What a peach of a goal. Wow this guy is good.

At 3-0 Boro were able to bring on Richie Smallwood and take off Whitehead, who once again was quite superb, all over the field. Albert Adomah was also added to the firing line late on for Bradley Fewster who will have learned much from his Boro debut. Albert will face opposition for his starting position from Nsue on Saturday, the former Spanish Under 21 starlet gained in confidence and composure as the game went on. While never looking in devastating form that 90 minutes on the pitch will serve him very well in the long run.

Kike attempted an audacious Viduka like goal. He pivoted and sent a shot that only just cleared the cross bar and skirted the roof of the net from an impossible angle. But the man from Real Murcia had already lit up the crowd with that clinical and class third goal.

As the rain lashed down Boro contained the Oldham threat for the remainder of the game. The home side did win one corner but Dimi got a safe pair of hands to it. In contrast we continued to ask questions on the break, Boro fans cheering as we retained possession. The Oldham support to our left could only retort, “You’re nothing special we lose every week.” Fair play to them keeping a sense of humour in defeat.

At the final whistle Boro fans applauded their players from the field. We now await the draw for the next round, safe in the knowledge that few teams will want to face us just at the moment.

A second victory and very impressive again. Great to see that there are players like Luke Williams and James Husband ready and waiting for an opportunity to break into the first team. Skipper Jonathan Woodgate didn’t put a foot wrong either. Leadbitter and Whitehead were absolutely outstanding. Williams got on the score sheet with an absolute cracker and Kike provided the silver lining. All in all we had a great run out in the rain at Oldham and really enjoyed ourselves.

Oldham 0-3 Middlesbrough


End of an Era for Boro Programmes

It is the end of an era as Gentleman George Harris has closed the doors of the Aladdin’s cave that was Boro Programmes. The shop at 58 Parliament Road, Middlesbrough has long been a treasure trove for collectors or anyone with a passion for football ephemera and memorabilia.

Q: When did you start selling programmes, George?

GH: It was back in 1984/85.

Q: Why did you start?

GH: It was just a hobby really. I collected programmes and was building it up and I had plenty of extra ones, so I opened a shop up in Forbes Buildings as a hobby.

Q: Were you working at the time?

GH: Yes I was a full time worker. Then when I got divorced I got this shop with a flat.

Q: You were near Boro’s ground at the time, Ayresome Park

GH: Yes it was lovely then, just round the corner.

Q: There must have been a lot of people then that were just like you, collectors. Did you know many?

GH: Well I got to know them. They have been smashing people. There have been lots of people who have been really good and I have known many of them now for a long time and I would like to thank them for helping me. There is not much profit in the programmes. But I would like to thank them for their support over the years.

And there a lot that still owe me money…

Q: That is one of your problems isn’t it? You buy in items like Boro away programmes and you rely on people coming in quickly to buy them. I have brought you back 30 or 35 programmes from clubs like Charlton, Birmingham and QPR. It is a lot of money for you to shell out.

GH: You can’t do a sub (subscription) because the away programme prices vary every year. You can’t say £3 because Charlton was £5 last season. It is a lot of money to lay out especially with the price of tickets as well,.

Q: Looking around the shop you have t-shirts and videos, old Rothmans year books and all the England stuff.

GH: I got most of the big matches from a lad in Bristol; the play offs, FA Cup finals, England matches, even England away. But they get left on the shelf because no one wants them. You get past Watford there are not many good England collections. Not many people save England programmes.

Q: There cannot be many of these football collectors shops left around the country now.

GH: No they are all going. We used to do fairs. We met a lot of dealers. But they are falling by the wayside too.

Q: Is it mostly all done on the internet now?

GH: I think it must be yes. There are still fairs but they are too far to go, down in London. They cost £100 a stall in London. You have to make a bit of money to break even because it is an over night stay as well.

Q: It was always good to come into your shop and see an incredible array of stuff. Was it organized chaos? Did you know where to find everything?

GH: No. I am finding things now that I didn’t know I had.

Q: You have even got some of the old cigarette cards on a shelf.

GH: Yes, there is a lad buying them lot and he has almost milked me dry now.

Q: Then a couple of years ago Peter Hindhaugh, David Harnby, Steve Roberts, Gary Bolton and Shaun Wilson compiled a book of the Complete Record of Middlesbrough Programmes which you sold at this shop.

GH: It is very difficult. Once you have bought a particular programme you don’t want another copy. The lads buy a programme and then I am left with what is left over. There are not many young kids coming in. They are not saving. Even the stickers and the cards.

Q: You used to get loads of kids coming across the road from the school looking for swaps.

GH: Oh yes there were loads like that knocking on the door, swapping. Mind you the World Cup has been a really good boost for stickers.

Q: You yourself used to play football didn’t you?

GH: A long time ago.

Q: What level did you play?

GH: Just local.

Q: What position did you play?

GH: Wing half or full back.

Q: That shows your vintage by you saying wing half.

GH: Yes, they are all midfielders now aren’t they?

Q: Boro need a full back at the moment.

GH: Oh. I have hung me boots up long ago.

Q: And what are you going to be doing with your time now?

GH: Put my feet up I hope. But our lass has got me decorating and I still have a lot of stuff to shift. We have MSS magazines but they fell away in the end. Even the Boro shop in town struggled.

Q: A sign of the times, sadly. Things change don’t they? But it has been good working with you over the years, George.

GH: Yes I’ve enjoyed it, I am sorry I have to go. But you have to go when you go. I am 72 now. Our lass would never be able to get rid of it all, so it is best to go now.

Q: But you have made lots of friends.

GH: Oh yes the friends have been very good

Q: We both have regular correspondents from other countries like Alan Ebbs in France.

GH: Even Alan sent me a letter saying he is sorry to see me go. But they are local lads who have moved away. I have had letters from people from all over the country who are Boro supporters. But even many of them have fallen by the wayside.

Q: There are not too many of us that still write letters. But you have had some good times. I remember there was a good atmosphere in here on matchdays when we played at Ayresome Park. The shop was full and people were in and out buying programmes and..

GH: Even the fanzines were popular then, weren’t they?

Q: Yes and if I was late with my delivery you would be waiting behind that counter to shout at me.

GH: Yes, we’ve been waiting for the Fly Me To The Moons. They don’t wait now they come about a fortnight later.

But it’s been good, I’ve enjoyed it.


The Olde Young Tea House is national Independent of the Year!

OYTHFrom humble beginnings to achieving national recognition for their business, The Olde Young Tea House is going from strength to strength.

Opened in June 2010 as the dream of head tea bee Carli McNaught, Middlesbrough’s only tea house sits opposite The Cleveland Centre, and has quickly become a firm favourite on the local independent scene.

Serving a dizzying variety of over 60 teas, all beautifully laid out for customers to choose from, and a daily range of cakes so divine it’s just plain rude not to have a slice of each, The Olde Young Tea House is currently rated 5th of all restaurants in Middlesbrough, and holds a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence.

And just when life couldn’t get any better…it did!

After entering the local heat of Independent of the Year on the Love Middlesbrough Facebook page, The Olde Young Tea House beat off stiff competition from other much loved local independents Concept and Lots of Loveliness to be crowned the local winner, going on to represent Middlesbrough in the national final.

Yesterday, after competition in the national final was so fierce that the top four businesses were deadlocked, the news finally came through that our favourite tea house had been awarded the glorious title of Independent of the Year 2014.

Representing Middlesbrough and more importantly, the work they do in creating a little community of tea and cake lovers, we couldn’t be prouder to have such a wonderful business in our town, and we wish them continued sweet (and yummy) success!

Visit them at: 84 Grange Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 2LS (open Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm).
Call them to book your own tea party (you know you want to!): 07868 251420
Keep up to date with their delectable cakes: The Olde Young Tea House on Facebook