We love International Museum Day!

Happy International Museum Day!

Given that museums are so full of history, and the fact that I just can’t stop myself being a history geek, I thought today was the perfect opportunity to talk about some lesser-known local museum history.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that we’ve only ever had two museums in Middlesbrough, but in fact, there was a second museum which opened after the Dorman and before the Captain Cook Birthplace.

Exhibiting a collection of mammals and birds, and local bygones, a relatively dinky museum lived in rooms in Marton Hall (a beautiful building located in what is now Stewart Park, which was unfortunately lost to fire).  The museum opened on June 18th 1931, but closed in 1939 when the outbreak of WWII required the Fire Brigade to take over the space it was occupying.  Sadly, it never reopened.

This fab little titbit came from The History of Middlesbrough by William Lillie, Borough Librarian (1968).

The Museum, Stewart Park, Middlesbrough
(Postcard from my own collection)


Delving even further back into history, a forerunner to Middlesbrough’s museums opened in 1859.  On Monday, 18 April, the Middlesbrough Polytechnic Exhibition opened at the Oddfellows’ Hall on Bridge Street West.

It was a great collection of objects, some of which fell into neat categories like watercolour paintings, but by far the biggest category was ‘miscellaneous’, so it was probably best described as items from people’s personal collections!

Contributors included HRH Prince Albert, the Earl of Zetland (the Second, Thomas Dundas), local notables HWF Bolckow and messers John and Henry Pease, current and future mayors of Middlesbrough, William Fallows and Edgar Gilkes, and prestigious manufacturers including Minton and Coalbrookdale.

This exhibition was four years before the Middlesbrough Athanaeum – a society organised for the cultivation of literature, science and the arts – was inaugurated (also at the Oddfellows’ Hall), and thirty one years before Middlesbrough’s first ‘museum’ opened to the public in the Town Hall, so it was probably only open to a select group of people.

Pages from the Polytechnic Exhibition programme
(From the Dorman Museum’s collection)


We couldn’t have a blog post about museums without mentioning our two gems.

The Dorman Memorial Museum opened in 1904, a gift to the town from Sir Arthur Dorman, in memory of his son George Lockwood Dorman, who died in the Boer War.  Dorman Museum The museum originally showcased the impressive personal collections of notable local figures, including Ancient Roman and Egyptian artefacts, and the extensive T. H. Nelson ornithological collection, which was bequeathed to the museum in 1914.

Today, the museum holds the largest public collection of stunning locally-produced Linthorpe Art Pottery in the world, and a highly impressive collection of items designed by the visionary Victorian industrial designer, Dr. Christopher Dresser.

The Captain Cook Birthplace Museum opened on the 28th October 1978 Captain Cook Birthplace Museum – the 250th anniversary of Cook’s birth. Its site in Stewart Park is close to the granite urn which marks the site of the cottage where Cook was born.

The galleries tell the story of the world-famous navigator, from his birth in Marton to his voyages.  It also has fab temporary exhibitions on Cook-related themes like seafaring, Pacific animals, and Australian Aboriginal life.

So there you go, a full on history geek post for International Museum Day!

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Pint of Science

We are bang in the middle of a festival of science that links Middlesbrough with cities across the world and brings science and scientists into the more homely and comfortable setting of the pub.

“Pint of Science is a non-profit organisation that brings some of the most brilliant scientists to your local pub to discuss their latest research and findings.”  The great thing from the audience point of view is that you don’t need any prior knowledge, and it is a real opportunity to meet the people who could be the future of science (and have a pint with them).

Pint of Science runs over a few days in May in cities throughout the world from Brazil to Australia to 21 locations in Britain, including Dickens Inn, Middlesbrough. Specific topics are selected and Pint of Science, Middlesbrough has opted for Planet Earth. Programmed here by Teesside University Dr Dave Errickson, this forensic archaeologist has opted for the broadest interpretation of Planet Earth including even North Yorks folklore and the mysterious Hobs.

Tonight, (Tues 16th May) in conjunction with Middlesbrough Local History Month we have Cooking Up Local Stories and Folklore with two local favourites, Middlesbrough Museum’s Phil Philo and BBC Tees Bob Fischer. Phil will be bringing Captain Cook’s natural scientists and their incredible finds under the 21st century microscope in Gotta Catch ‘Em All. Bob will be delving into the shadowy half world of the hobs and other mythical creatures that were a very real part of rural life for the people in North Yorks Moors as he goes Hobnobbing with the Hobs.

Tomorrow night (Wed 17th May) in the same Dickens Inn venue we fly off in two very different directions again.

Spacecraft: Writing in Another Dimension – poet Harry Man has collaborated with astrophysicists, neuroscientists and ecologists, creating new interdisciplinary work which is poetry Jim, but just not as we know it.

Explore how one poem began its journey here on Earth only to be blasted into space and placed in orbit around the planet Mars, and new frontiers in adventures in the English language that evolved into poems specifically designed for those with dyslexia, poetry without words, and poetry made to be read as it slowly dissolves into the ocean or melts in the open air.

Amy Carrick River Tees Officer with Tees Valley Wildlife Trust asks: How Many Bats Can You Fit in a Pint Glass? Answer, “At least 30 (but make sure you drink the beer first!)”

Amy will tell us about all the small mammals of the Tees Valley and what the Trust is doing to monitor them. Some questions she may or may not answer are: How do we know what bat is where and what they are jibbering on about? How do we know where otters like to chill out on their couches? How do we know what water voles have for their tea?

Expect plenty of visuals with all these talks and the chance to get up close and personal with ideas, myths, facts, science and the our planet earth.

Both fun and fact packed evenings are just £4 and can be booked ahead online to ensure you have a comfortable seat to listen and a space to park your pint. Doors 6:30pm. Event 7:00-9:00pm Pint of Science

 

 

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The First Hippo on the Moon – review

Our latest guest post comes from Lisa, who was lucky enough to be offered two complimentary tickets to The First Hippo on the Moon by Middlesbrough Theatre.


After reading David Walliams’ story to my nearly three year old, and not getting a very engaged response, I was unsure of what to expect from the theatre show.

As soon as we entered the theatre we were greeted by a friendly steward who helped us find our seats. The steward was great with my little girl, chatting away and engaging her in the experience from the outset.

The show opens to a simple yet beautifully created set, clearly depicting a jungle scene and a gigantic TV screen. The set immediately prompted questions and intrigue from my little girl, who appeared to be getting more excited and interested in what was about to happen around her.

As the jungle characters took to the stage, the audience both young and old were immediately impressed by the fun-filled, life-sized puppets. Each character was brought to life by the five talented actor-puppeteers, each having a clearly defined comedic personality, which had the audience laughing straight away.

The story unfolds as the hacked-off hippo called Sheila decides she’s going to give rich and famous fellow hippo Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III a run for his money in his dream of getting to the moon first. In a bid to stop Hercules from stealing the simple jungle dweller’s dream, Sheila and her friends hatch a plan to make sure Sheila gets to the moon first!

While Sheila moans and groans, her faithful friends work together to create a DIY rocket from the best jungle material. With a little advice from Bob the ape, the team set to work creating the mass of rocket fuel needed to send Sheila whizzing into space, which is a massive pile of poo!

While trying their best to create enough poo for Sheila’s expedition, the creatures begin to descend upon the audience in their hunt for more poo! Squeals of glee and laughter erupted from the children as the creatures collected the rest of the poo needed from their parents.

Throughout the show we also encountered a number of fun, musical theatre-style songs and dances, which helped keep the attention of the youngsters, as Sheila does eventually achieve lift off after the monsoons have finally stopped.

In the end, Sheila got to the moon, but not without blowing up her rocket. But she couldn’t get too excited as it turned out she landed on the moon at the same time as Hercules! Hercules is so busy boasting about the fame and fortune he’ll gain when he returns to Earth, he doesn’t realise that while letting Sheila back on his rocket, he’s left himself stranded on the Moon forever! Back on Earth, Sheila officially becomes the first hipponaut on the Moon….forgetting to tell anyone about leaving Hercules to be the only hippo on the Moon!


The stage adaptation of World Of David Walliams’ The First Hippo on the Moon will be touring the UK until July 2017. Find your nearest dates and venues on firsthippolive.com #FirstHippo
Facebook: facebook.com/LesPetitsTheatreCompany
Twitter: twitter.com/PetitsTheatre

The First Hippo on the Moon

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#ETW17: Middlesbrough’s museums and culture

Dorman Museum

Middlesbrough’s first museum, the Dorman Museum, tells the fascinating history of our wonderful town.Dorman Museum in the spring
As well as local history, the museum has the world’s largest public collection of Linthorpe Art Pottery (world-renowned in the Victorian era and produced just a mile away from where the museum now stands), and an internationally-significant collection of items designed by the surprisingly forward-thinking Victorian industrial designer, Dr. Christopher Dresser, who was for a time the Art Superintendent at the Linthorpe Pottery. (Sorry, geeking out a little over the Dresser collection here!)

Plus, Dressers Tea Room at the museum is adorably cute and very traditional, and does amazing cake (I should know, I’ve eaten a lot of it!)

Captain Cook Birthplace Museum

Middlesbrough’s second museum is dedicated to one of the world’s greatest navigators, Captain James Cook.Pacific Predators at the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum

Cook was born in a cottage which once stood close to where the museum stands today – a granite urn, placed there by legendary Middlesbrough industrialist Henry Bolckow, marks the spot.

After a £500,000 government grant, the museum, which is in the heart of the beautiful Stewart Park, is being transformed, with refurbishments to the first floor and the creation of a new temporary gallery space – which means even more Cook for your buck (sorry)! After the epic Pacific Predators exhibition last year, we can’t wait to see what 2017 brings at the Cook!

Middlesbrough Town Hall

If you’ve been checking our Instagram, you’ll have seen that we recently got a sneaky behind the scenes tour of the multi-million pound renovations currently taking place at the Town Hall. Middlesbrough Town Hall sneak peekBeing a bit (okay, a lot) of a history geek, I’m super excited that they’ll be restoring some of the most historic areas of the building, like the old courtroom and police cells.
But it’s not just the heritage which will benefit; the main concert hall is also being completely refurbished, and work is taking place which will help visitors to have an even better experience when they go to massive concerts and gigs with comedy legends. (We’re talking about boring but essential things like toilets, and exciting and very essential things like the bar!) As Sarah Millican would say, champion!

Middlesbrough Theatre

Middlesbrough Theatre was opened by Sir John Gielgud in 1957 – so happy 60th birthday for this year! – and was one of the first theatres built in England after the Second World War. The theatre plays host to a packed programme of productions, from unique shows by local playwrights to crowd-pleasers like The Ladyboys of Bangkok – not bad for a theatre was originally named the ‘Little Theatre’. With over 450 seats, it’s not really that little!

Galleries

You’d be forgiven for wondering where all of Middlesbrough’s galleries are, because we have some little gems which are hidden away off the beaten track.Neon and That by Stuart Langley
The House of Blah Blah lives in what was Victorian Middlesbrough’s post office, neatly tucked away in Exchange Square right by Teesside Archives. Hosting everything from exhibitions of neon artworks to Christmas markets to warehouse parties, it’s definitely one of the town’s most unique spaces.
In contrast, the more traditional gallery spaces, Python Gallery and the Heritage Gallery at Cargo Fleet, exhibit paintings, photography, and other works from local artists. mima brings things up to the minute with modern art, discussing themes including housing, migration, inequality, and regeneration through their exhibitions.

Transporter Bridge

A blog about Middlesbrough wouldn’t be a blog about Middlesbrough without a mention of the Transporter Bridge.Transporter Bridge on a sunny day

Our beautiful blue dragonfly isn’t just a handy way to cross between Middlesbrough and Stockton, it’s also one of the country’s premier extreme sports venues (abseiling or bungee jumping, anyone?) and an attraction in its own right.  Standing over 150ft above the River Tees, the views from the top are pretty magnificent, and the new glass lift is the perfect way to get up there and see them. You can book a glass lift tour online.

Middlesbrough skyline from the Transporter Bridge

Love Middlesbrough Lasses
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#ETW17: Orange Pip Market

Last weekend (Saturday March 25) was my first experience of the outdoor market, on Baker and Bedford Street, Orange Pip Market.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this, Orange Pip Market happens once a month (should the weather allow) and it is a foodie’s heaven. There are plenty of food stalls selling food from across the globe, such as Italian pizza, German bratwurst and traditional Armenian flatbread, as well as the good British food such as Scotch Eggs and a carvery. Not only is there food, but there’s arts and music too, doesn’t that sound good?

I’ll take you through what I ate, which was a lot.

I started off with a vegan samosa, which was really good!

Then I went on to try some hot sauce. I chickened out of the super-hot sauce and went for the mild version which was just delicious and the vendor was a really funny guy who didn’t mind the fact that I was a wimp – or me taking a photo of him so I could get his t-shirts in the background.

My next stop was hot chocolate (with a little chat). Sprinkles did and amazing hot chocolate which was super smooth and just the right sweetness, they had homemade marshmallows with a few different flavours; I had to leave out the marshmallows (which they toasted with a blow-torch – talk about hardcore) but they did mention that they were looking into vegetarian options.

I had a little wander around the market, picking my next destination when I came across an authentic crepe stall, the guy who owned it was French, and spoke French to his customers in greeting etc. For a moment I felt like I was in France with this guy, he was very polite and allowed me to video him making the crepe, which was delicious.

I sat down to eat my crepe and started talking to two men who were very polite and gave me their thoughts on the market. They both loved the idea and were enjoying themselves a lot. I took a moment to enjoy the sun, because it couldn’t be Orange Pip Market without the sun, and went on my way.

The Clucking Pig Company sold me a vegetarian scotch egg which was so good, if a bit messy. I had a nice chat (as always) with the vendor and discussed social media. They are very active online and I was more than happy to tag them in a post. They’re from Redcar but have been down to London and even in the Houses of Parliament to sell their eggs. The sold goose and free range eggs too, which made me very happy.

I found a nice cheese stall – and I love cheese – where I tried quite a few different flavours of cheese (I went back at the end of my day to buy – didn’t want it melting in my bag) and talked to the vendor about cooking with these cheeses; top tip for lazy cooks: having the seasoning already in the cheese makes for a super easy sauce.

Cheese stall

I of course bought myself an Orange Pip mug for the office – I needed a new one and it seemed appropriate.

Orange Pip mug

I was informed weeks in advance that I could not go to this market without getting my face decorated, so that was what I did. I spoke to some lovely girls who decorated my face in gold leaf (not actual gold) and glitter. It looked amazing and stayed on until the evening, I’m still wondering what they used as a glue.

Emma face paint

I bought myself a brownie from Crumble and Slice, the owner’s mother told me they had brought 17 trays and had sold nearly all of them by the time I had got there.

Now, you can’t go to Bedford Street without going to Songbird Bakery, and that’s exactly what I did. Those talented girls had Easter cupcakes out and waiting for us and I loved it. I tried a mini eggs cupcake and holy guacamole was it good, those girls must have magic of some sort.

Songbird Bakery

One of my last stops was for pizza. I shared a stone-baked pizza with my sister (who turned up later on in the day) and boy was it good. The sauce was perfect and the cheese was amazing – did I mention that I love cheese- and quite frankly I haven’t had a better pizza yet. It was quick service and they were making them right there in front of us.

The music was utterly brilliant, I manged to hear two performers and they differed greatly in musical styles but both were talented and it was obvious that there was meant to be something for everyone.

I have to say, Orange Pip Market was a brilliant experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The security at the end of the streets were on the ball, not allowing anyone to take alcohol out of the street and also making sure everyone were safe, all the vendors were lovely people who were great to talk to and didn’t mind having photos taken all over the place, and it was a gorgeous day. It would have been a perfect day out for the family and I’m surprised at how little I actually ate, considering I was in two streets full of food.

Everyone I talked to really enjoyed the market and that spans a range of people. It was obvious from the wide range of vendors and performers that there was meant to be something for everyone to enjoy and the entire event looked very well organised. Kudos to the people who organised it and well done to all of the vendors for remaining happy and upbeat all day, even though it was probably very hot in a lot of those tents and very tiring.

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