Do the Ali Brownlee Riverside Run

runmbroPull on your trainers and prepare for your own 5 minutes of fame on the big stage, it is time to sign up for the Ali Brownlee runs next Sunday. Everyone can take part in either the popular 5 or 2km runs and make that big finish around the pitch and inside the Riverside stadium. And what better motivation than to do it for Alastair Brownlee, whose voice graced this occasion in the past and whose daughter Alison is running in his honour. Sign up today, deadline day, and prepare for your own pitch-side Boro buzz next Sunday.

It is always one of the highlights of my year. There is that real sense of community occasion. It is a distance that nearly everyone can get around, running or walking. The route passes many iconic landmarks, from the Transporter Bridge to the gleaming ocean liner like Middlesbrough College. Then there is the run down the former rail lines of Vulcan Street straight towards the old Dock Tower. A tower bearing a clock on three faces but not towards the former Bolckow and Vaughan works, no clock watchers here thank you.

Instead you might be looking at your Garmin wrist watch wondering if you can keep on track for your own personal target as you sweep round a corner in front of the former Middlesbrough Dock, once a hub of mercantile activity, with shipping and workers from all corners of the globe.

Photo Tracy Hyman

There is a mixture of history and community to the fore on every part of this run through the former historic old town of Middlesbrough. The straight roads of the 19th century planned town certainly help ease your progress along. But the lure of the Riverside welcome entices you from a long way out, calling across the former dock basin. But first you must divert up the embankment and over the bridge of Shepherdson Way, named in honour of Middlesbrough’s great hero of 1966. The trainer that helped win the World Cup 50 years ago this summer. Remember that as you surge up the bank. A quick turn on your heels like the rebound off the cross bar of Geoff Hurst’s second final goal and you appear to be running into the back of the net. Only this net is not that guarded by the West German keeper but that suspended from the Temenos sculpture of Anish Kapoor, the designer of the London Olympic tower.

Then just as you thought you were flagging you enter the tunnel into the Riverside bowl and the noise inside just hits you. Chariots of Fire is being played over the PA and above it are the cheers of hundred or is thousands of families, children and supporters. I do not exaggerate when I use the word ‘roar’ and it does sweep you off your feet and into your own big finishing circuit around the Riverside pitch.

Photo Tracy Hyman

Many, many of us run 5km parkruns every Saturday morning but it is that big Riverside finish that really marks this run out as special above and beyond the weekly park events. There is the special association with our beloved Boro and now for ever more the Voice of the Boro, Alastair Brownlee. It is the pull of the Riverside, the chance to run your own lap of honour around the hallowed turf with the sound of cheering supporters echoing around the stadium. It is as close as I will ever get to the experience of performing inside the Boro temple. I certainly cannot wait to return to the scene of our recent promotion glories.

But we are right on the deadline now; the final day is this Bank Holiday Monday. Don’t delay click on the link and sign up for the Ali Brownlee 5km run.


River Tees: From Source To Sea

The Tees is the river that gives we Teessiders our name and our identity yet weirdly it is all too often overlooked or taken for granted. The river is viewed as a geographical and political divider rather than the unifying reason behind Teesside forming and developing. Tosh Warwick and Jenny Parker have produced a book that should start to change all that. The two have produced a wonderful and enlightening new book that follows the river from its Cross Fell source into the sea at Tees Mouth and looks at the way our river has been a gateway to commerce and trade and an industrial driver through the ages.

tosh smallerI posed some questions to Tosh Warwick to get a flavour of what River Tees From Source to Sea is all about.

We live on Teesside but do you think Teessiders take their river for granted in some ways?

The River Tees has a fascinating history with stories of Roman forts, world-renowned bridges and I think perhaps the book provides a way to appreciate the role of the Tees in the past, in the modern day and in the future of the area.  Much of what we do is defined by the river – many identify as Tees-siders, live in the Tees Valley, work in Stockton-on-Tees, shop at Teesside Park or study at Teesside University.

I think particularly with the decline of traditional industries along the Tees having vastly reduced the number of people who engage and encounter the river on a daily basis has inevitably reduced familiarity, turning it into something that for many has  ‘always just been there’.  It has become historicised and profiled as something that is part of a bygone era of great uncles who worked on the cranes of Middlesbrough Dock, grandfathers who loaded cargo at Dent’s Wharf or ancestors who were brewers or tanners in medieval Yarm.  Of course the idea of the Tees as something consigned to the past, not relevant to the twenty-first century,  is not true – AV Dawson, located at Dent’s Wharf, are one of the region’s leading multimodal firms, Middlesbrough Dock is now surrounded by education,  leisure,  training facilities and acclaimed public art, whilst the Yarm riverside is populated with high quality housing, heritage and leisure space.

river tees dorman longThere has of course also been, and continues to be, long-term interest in and appreciation of the River Tees from groups and organisations including  River Tees Rediscovered, Tees Archaeology, Tees Nautical Studies  and Tees Wildlife Trust.

Are you telling us to look again at the Tees in Teesside?

I think for those from Teesside, the book offers an opportunity to celebrate and highlight some of the important aspects of the Tees, a means by which to discover or rediscover the ‘steel river’.  I remember when starting work on the Transporter Bridge project watching a DVD from a reminiscence project centred upon the Bridge, on which Rob Nichols commented that there was a perception that the town had, in a sense, turned its back on the River Tees.  That observation really hit home with me and I think in looking to the Tees and celebrating the unique structures that span it, the natural beauty along its banks, the landmarks of industrial heritage, the important role the waterway plays in the region’s economy today and the potential for learning, leisure and regeneration in the future can help allay those concerns.  The book highlights that, in fact, there is very much an increase in interest along the river and it has much to offer across a wide variety of interests.  There is a lot to celebrate and be proud of.

I also hope that River Tees: From Source to Sea will encourage people to explore some aspects of the River Tees beyond those with which they are familiar.  Jenny and I would love nothing more than for readers to then head down to a new part of the Tees or seek to find out more about something that they have encountered in the book.

river tees plan 1877What particular topics do you look at in depth?

 The book is not intended to be the definitive book on the Tees.  It is there to introduce readers to explore some key themes about the River Tees and attempts to provide something of an overview on the story of the Tees.  Jenny has delved into charting the river in looking at the ‘Tumbling Tees’, taking readers on a journey from source to sea and exploring the origins of the Tees’ name, exploring some of the communities, features, folklore and towns along the way before turning attention to ‘The Natural River’.  As Jenny acknowledges ‘for most of its length the Tees is strikingly beautiful and a delight for nature-lovers’, and it was important that the historic romantic tourism of the Tees, its geology, flora, the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, farming and fishing, nature reserves and saltmarshes received attention when celebrating the Tees.

river tees industryMy own background is in the heritage and history of the industrial areas along the Tees and I have focused on some of the industries along the river, ranging from well-known iron, steel and chemical companies to some of the less familiar interests along the river over the centuries.   Thus alongside the stories of ironmasters, ship builders and steel magnates, Yarm’s foreign trade links with Flanders and France, Stockton’s shipping of butter and a brass furnace at Billingham are explored.  We have also been very lucky in drawing upon some unique material held at Teesside Archives from the more celebrated firms along the Tees, including world-renowned firms such as Bell Brothers and Dorman Long.

yarm iron bridgeBridges of course feature in the book as an important part of the story of the Tees, its rich history and remain important today.  We look at the stories of bridges that remain today, some of which are world-renowned such as the Transporter Bridge, but also profile the history of some lesser-known, lost bridges, such as the collapse of Yarm’s ill-fated Iron Bridge in the 1800s, the daredevil bridge jumper Tommy Burn’s dive from Victoria Bridge in front of 4,000 spectators in 1890 and the tragic fall from Yarm Viaduct of a local farmer who mistook the parapet wall for the train station platform and plunged into the Tees.

stockton bridgeWe also consider the ways in which the Tees’ bridges have become iconic and have changed in their use and relevance over time from major parts of the industrial infrastructure to tourist attractions and extreme sports locations.  This is part of a wider look at the ways in which the Tees also has a lot to offer today for learning, leisure and the future of the region with the fantastic developments ongoing in recent decades with various education, learning and regeneration schemes which have included the opening of the Riverside Stadium, installation of Temenos and the establishment of world-leading further and higher education facilities close to the Tees.

transporter at nightDid you learn a lot through your research for this?

Researching the book has been a fascinating experience that has included delving into unique archival collections, sifting through historic photographs, speaking to those with knowledge of the river and also getting out and seeing the Tees ourselves.  It has been fascinating to discover new information about the role of the Tees in the civil wars, nineteenth-century riots at Stockton Stone Bridge on the issue of tolls and also to find out about the variety of activities ongoing along and on the Tees today, ranging from Tees Wheelyboats to the fantastic work carried out by Tees Wildlife Trust.

Do you think the river has a big role in the future as well as the past for Teesside?

We hope that whilst not shying away from the vast changes that the region has faced in recent decades which have changed the relationship with and role of the River Tees, we hope that the book also highlights the ways in which the River Tees continues to play an important role today and offers huge potential for Teesside moving forward.  It can unite the whole area and with the ongoing projects which celebrate and explore its importance and uses, and we hope that River Tees: From Source to Sea might contribute to this process.

river teesRiver Tees: From Source to Sea is published by Amberley Publishing and available in paperback now from and bookshops throughout the region.  The book will also be available on Kindle, Kobo and iBook formats.


Cycling Through the Ages

Bikes of all shapes and sizes were on display and available to ride at the Discover Middlesbrough ‘Cycling through the Ages’ event at the Middlesbrough Cycle Circuit.

Following on from the huge success of the Tour de Yorkshire, Local History Month in conjunction Sporting Chance threw a spotlight on the long history of cycling in our region and also the use of cycles in wartime.

Vintage bikes were supplied by Bike Stop Darlington and Michael Stout, one of the ‘Button Hole bikers’, who showed his off his skills on a Penny Farthing.

Cycling through the Ages Pic 1Men from ‘Sporting Chance’ Middlesbrough joined in on the ride and were amazed at how hard it was to keep up with the old bikes!

Sporting Chance is a project for over-50 males in Middlesbrough to exercise their legs and their brains.

Talks and displays were given regarding the different bicycles and the use of cycles in both World Wars by Martin Bourne and Derrick Previll of Volunteering Matters. Martin was dressed as a member of the US medical corps and was able to show off his fascinating collection of WW2 medical memorabilia.

Local History Month co-ordinator Robert Nichols said: “I was fascinated to hear that bikes were as important in wartime as peacetime.”

Sporting Chance Project Development Officer Gill Watson said she was delighted by the day: “It was great to see so many taking the opportunity to ride the old and new cycles as well as learn a little bit of history.”

There will be a second chance to see more of Derrick Previll’s amazing collection of World War I memorabilia in MFC Special WW1 Tours on Tuesday 31st May at the Riverside Stadium. This is the final event in Middlesbrough Local History Month.#

Following a tour of the ground of the newly promoted Premier club Derrick will provide insights into the Middlesbrough footballers not inconsiderable World War One efforts. He will then tell some of the often forgotten stories of the town in the Great War illustrated by his incredible collection of mementos from the terrible conflict.

To book on the MFC Special WW1 Tours email or call 01642 757674

For more information on the remaining Discover Middlesbrough local history events during May visit or email

To find out more about Sporting Chance – activities for men aged 50+ in Middlesbrough – call Gill on 01642 231560 or Brian 01642 515616

mbro local history month



Middlesbrough on Film Rescreening – Today

Join us at 2pm or 7pm for two re-screenings of the original North East Film Archive, Middlesbrough on Film archive film show at The Empire, £3.50.

First shown in 2013 and now back by overwhelming request North East Film Archive (NEFA) have opened their vaults again to present an evening of rare black and white colour footage sweeping back over the last century in Middlesbrough. There are two opportunities today to revel again in local nostalgia in the sumptuous surroundings of the late Victorian theatre, The Empire, Corporation Road, Middlesbrough.

It is a fantastic opportunity to view rare archive film footage on the big screen dating back to Edwardian times with the opening of the Transporter Bridge. Talking of bridges we don’t want the Newport Bridge to miss out, see it lifting one more time.

The whole area is still awash with celebrations of our Premier promotion heroes, you can watch Big Jack Charlton’s Champions in training on the moors and at Ayresome Park playing before the fans as they stormed to the old Second Division title in 1974.

The river is why we are here as a town in the first place in Tees-side. There is a lot of footage of the working river, with tug boats, ships, dock and most importantly of all the workers themselves. There are town centre street scenes from the era before the Cleveland Centre Middlesbrough. See f you recognise the old department stores. Then there is the scandal of the closure of the last Male Only bar in 1965. Controversial stuff!

The show lasts 90 minutes with a half time break for refreshments but it is divided up into lots of little films. Expert commentary is provided by NEFA’s Graham Relton as he sets the scene behind each short film clip.

This is part of Middlesbrough Local History Month, with walks, talks and all sorts of free and very affordable events running right through May at venues throughout Middlesbrough. Look out for our brochures or grab one online at

facebook Discovermiddlesbrough

Ring to make sure of a seat – 01642 81 51 81

To discuss disabled access call Phil Douglas on 01642 729085


1966 and All That

It will be 50 years this summer since the England World Cup. Not only will 1966 always be remembered for the England win but it was the year the World Cup actually came to Middlesbrough. The three games at Ayresome Park included one of the greatest shocks in international football history, Pak Do Ik’s goal that sealed the victory of the ultimate minnows from North Korea over pre tournament favourites, Italy.

In conjunction with Middlesbrough Local History Month Fly Me To The Moon is going to bring you a celebration of that special summer in the company of three of the best, local authors done very well, Harry Pearson, Richard Piers Rayner, Daniel Gray in

1966 and All That…

Middlesbrough Reference Library

Fri 6 May

7pm- 9pm

Tickets £2

On the eve of the final Boro game of the season three of Teesside’s favourite local authors Harry Pearson, Richard Piers Rayner and Daniel Gray talk World Cups and Middlesbrough Football Club.

It is one of several events planned this summer and later in the year to mark the anniversary of the special event, 50 years since the eyes of the football world were focussed on this small town in the north east of England. The summer when the World Cup came to town and left with an amazing story of David beating Goliath.

Harry Pearson the author of Far Corner, named as one of the 50 Greatest Sports Books of All Time; Football 365 columnist, Richard Piers Rayner, graphic novelist of Oscar winning Road to Perdition and author of Middlesbrough FC Unseen History; Daniel Gray of Hatters Railwaymen and Knitters fame, a journey through the towns and teams of England’s nether regions and Fly Me To The Moon’s own will be the star men on display.

Part of Middlesbrough Local History Month. This year’s annual festival was launched on Tuesday night at Acklam Hall, and features a chance to cycle in the trail of the Tour de Yorkshire peloton (Satuday morning), view a rerun of Middlesbrough on Film at The Empire (Tuesday 2pm and 7pm) as well as book a WW1 tour of the Riverside.

What a way to warm up for the final showdown of the season as Boro go head to head with Brighton.

Sure to be a popular event so please call 01642 729002 to book your seats.