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.