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.

 See: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4794567

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.

houseofblahblah

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 http://beatriceblorebrowne.uk/ 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.

 

Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience – Teesside University Boost Placement Blog

pn41XX Transporter volunteer Pic 2 (4)

During Summer 2015, Laura Forbes worked alongside Middlesbrough Council staff in the day-to-day running of Teesside’s iconic Tees Transporter Bridge as part of the Teesside University Summer BOOST Programme.  Here Laura recalls her time on the HLF-supported Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience Project…

Throughout my time at the Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience Project, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with local schools in promoting the Bridge’s heritage. This has included assisting with tours, creating presentations and worksheets. Having never worked specifically with schools before, I didn’t realise the importance of promoting heritage from a young age. I was surprised to find how in awe of the Bridge, and how eager visiting school groups were to learn more about it. Their enthusiasm was contagious and really brought home to me the importance of children in the role of heritage. I also found they had the most profound perceptions of the Bridge, particularly those who live in Port Clarence – they described the Bridge as something that made them feel ‘safe’ and like they could ‘never get lost’. It was very touching to see how important this landmark was in their day-to-day lives.

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Inspired by the project, I also developed a link-up with local writing company, Ek Zuban, in creating a wider heritage creative writing session.  This would come to fruition in the form of not only a performance of creative writing inspired by and in the shadow of the famous landmark, but also a musical performance too.

I realise the legacy of the Bridge’s heritage lies with these children and the importance of creating an unforgettable first experience of the Bridge, so as they grow older, they too can pass on these fond memories to others and keep the vision of the Transporter Bridge as an iconic landmark alive.

With the support of Teesside University, I have also utilised the camera loan system and captured unique parts of the project – there have been countless opportunities where having a camera has made a real difference. Many of the images I’ve taken onsite have been used for press releases, publications and social media – I’ve felt proud to be able to contribute towards the promotion of the Bridge in a visual way. I’m now even saving for a D-SLR camera of my own. I’ve always had an interest in photography, but have never gone as far as to purchase a camera. This placement has inspired me to pursue this hobby, and to be able to develop new skills in this has considerably increased my employability.c/o Teesside Archives

As I am a student studying English at Teesside University, I was given the opportunity to create blog posts and contribute to press releases. I felt I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the conventions of these formats of writing. Furthermore, simple daily writing tasks, such as emailing, have helped me develop a mature and formal tone when communicating with colleagues, whilst this better understanding of what is expected in press releases – invaluable should I wish to enter a role in PR.

During the course of the placement I particularly enjoyed working at the newly renovated Transporter Bride Visitor Centre, from greeting visitors to the Bridge to setting up the venue for special events.  This also provided a fantastic opportunity to share what I’ve learnt about the heritage of the Transporter Bridge with visitors. I have thoroughly enjoyed interacting with people who visit the site, and I have surprised myself with the amount of knowledge I’ve picked up just being around the Bridge and the people that are passionate about it. I did my best to make sure people’s experience at the Bridge was a positive one.

I feel very proud to say I have been involved in the Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience, so much so that I have joined the Friends of the Tees Transporter Bridge and volunteered beyond my placement.  My time at the Transporter has increased my confidence in dealing with the public and helped create a sense of pride that I have added positively to their experience at the Bridge.  I would encourage anyone interested in volunteering at the Bridge or participating in a placement there to pursue this truly unique experience.

Are you interested in volunteering at the Tees Transporter Bridge? Visit www.teestransporterbridge.com for more information. 

Acklam Hall Tour – Local History Month 2014

On Sunday May 4th, Acklam Hall in Middlesbrough threw open its doors to the public as part of Local History Month 2014. Modest expectations for the visitor numbers were spectacularly shattered when over 1000 people arrived to view the 17th Century building which for generations was the home of the eminent Hustler family, passing down through the generations in one of the longest periods of continuous ownership in history.

The building, which was sold to Middlesbrough Council in 1928 and has since offered its awe-inspiring surroundings for use as various schools and colleges, still retains all of its beautiful period features, including an ornately carved pine staircase. The building is Grade 1 listed – only 2.5% of all listed buildings can claim this status, and puts Acklam Hall in an enviable position alongside Westminster Abbey and York Minster.

Perhaps unusually for a tour, a large amount of time was spent looking up, rather than around, as some of the most spectacular features of the building were the beautiful ceilings.

Acklam Hall Ceiling

Another of the features which gives Acklam Hall its Grade I status (as well as the staircase), is the magnificent ceiling above the staircase.

Acklam Hall Ceiling

The ceiling bears the date 1683 and is another of the original features of the house. During the Victorian era, when another floor was added to house servants’ quarters, the entire ceiling was lifted from its original position to make way for the building work, before being installed in its new position, a floor higher, where it hangs to this day, supported by unseen hessian straps.

Acklam Hall Ceiling

At this time, the staircase was also extended to serve the new floor, and it is possible to see subtle differences between the two parts of the staircase, including that the posts (or balusters) are only a single twist in the newer part, as opposed to the higher quality double twists in the original part.

Acklam Hall Staircase (original)

With the project to restore the hall having just begun, it is reassuring to know that this jewel of Middlesbrough’s history, which bore witness not only to a family’s history, but also the growing up of Middlesbrough during the Victorian era, will be preserved for future generations to appreciate.

Acklam Hall Stairs