Red Wheel National Recognition for Transporter Bridge

Sir William McAlpine officially unveiled the Transport Trust Red Wheel plaque as dozens turned out to celebrate the Tees Transporter Bridge’s transport heritage significance.

The Red Wheel award was one of two presented along the Tees Valley on Friday (April 7), with the Cleveland Bridge-designed Transporter Bridge becoming the 89th site recognised by the Trust, followed by an unveiling at the 90th site – the Stockton & Darlington Railway’s Hopetown Carriage Works.

The Tees Transporter Bridge joins an elite list of transport heritage landmarks recognised by the Transport Trust, the only charity devoted to the conservation, restoration and promotion of Britain’s transport heritage nationally and across all modes of transport – by land, air and water. Other sites in the region include nearby Saltburn Cliff Lift and Shildon’s Soho House.

Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge was awarded a Transport Trust Red Wheel Award at a ceremony today (Friday 7th April)
7-4-17 Pic Doug Moody Photography

President of the Trust Sir William McAlpine, who praised the north east and the region’s spirit, said: “The idea of the Transport Trust Red Wheel plaques is to draw attention and provide information for visitors about interesting, wonderful constructions – buildings, bridges, canals – all over the country.”

Sir William went on to say, “Oh I think it is wonderful, wonderful that the Transporter Bridge has been recognised, or more recognised than it already is because it should be as an almost unique piece of engineering. There is one in Wales that works and one other that doesn’t work. And it is good to know that they are being kept and used and doing a useful thing.”

Tosh Warwick, Middlesbrough Council’s Heritage Development Officer, said:  “The event displayed the enthusiasm and passion for one of the region’s most iconic landmarks and we expect this latest award will generate further interest in our bridge amongst transport enthusiasts across the nation.”

  • More on the Tees Transporter Bridge, including booking information and upcoming events, can be found at teestransporterbridge.com

Information on the Transport Trust, who are currently inviting nominations for other sites of transport heritage significance, can be found at http://www.transporttrust.com/

Heritage Officer Tosh Warwick later gave me a short interview about the significance of the plaque unveiling.

Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge was awarded a Transport Trust Red Wheel Award at a ceremony today (Friday 7th April)
7-4-17 Pic Doug Moody Photography

Q: Tosh, can you tell us a little about the new plaque unveiled today at the Transporter Bridge.

TW: The red wheel is awarded by the Transport Trust. It is one of 89 unveiled across the UK. It celebrates the fact the Transporter Bridge is a really important part of not just Teesside’s heritage but that of the nation. It puts it in a national spotlight.

Q: Today we have heard people discuss both the engineering masterpiece but also not forgetting that it was built so that people could get to work.

TW:  Yes, that is one of the beauties of today’s event; it is about how the bridge has been used rather than just being an icon, which obviously it clearly is. It is about it’s functional role as well. Those ironworkers who would have used the bridge to get over to Bell Brothers at Port Clarence, or getting over to Dorman Long from Port Clarence. And those people that had to carry their bikes over the top when the bridge wasn’t working or to save money. That ordeal of carrying your bike up 200+ steps.

Q: A heavy bike too in those days.

TW: An incredibly heavy bike in those days. It is a good event. The red wheel is alongside the Engineering Heritage Award we have from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers which is also on the side of the newly renovated Visitor Centre.

It is all about what we are trying to do, champion Teesside’s heritage. Today’s one of those events and I am sure we will have an awful lot more in the coming year with the renovation works on going at Middlesbrough Town Hall.

Q: And like the Town Hall this is a iconic structure that can be seen for miles around.

TW: Yes that is right, it is testament to the investment in the Transporter Bridge that it is still here today and it is working today. It is still something that is on people’s radar. It has not been forgotten about. It is not a relic. It is something that people readily embrace, they are very proud of it. You have these stories that when you come back to Middlesbrough you know you are home when you see the Transporter. So, yes it has an iconic and a functional role. That has really come across today with Sir William McAlpine’s visit. To be able to attract the calibre of the President of the Transport Trust, Sir William McAlpine along to celebrate our bridge is testament to how fantastic it is.

Q: And obviously the bridge will have a pivotal role in the future of the area.

TW: Absolutely, yes. It is a key part of our vision for heritage but also visitor and tourism attraction in the area. We have had the new lift installed and the visitor centre renovated. And today we saw evidence that having that lift installed can be part of key events and celebrations and really provide an alternative view of the River Tees and Teesside, a bit more broadly as well. Sir William McAlpine was able to go up in the lift and look out across the Tees and all those different views and those different landmarks and all those key parts of Teesside’s community.

Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge was awarded a Transport Trust Red Wheel Award at a ceremony today (Friday 7th April)
7-4-17 Pic Doug Moody Photography

Councillor Lewis Young, Executive Member of Culture, Leisure and Sport had these words about the plaque and the bridge and Middlesbrough.

In his short speech Lewis talked about how the red wheel.. “speaks about this area, where it is from and where it is going.”

Q: It is a fantastic looking red wheel plaque. It must be a great recognition of the history and heritage of this area.

LY: Yes very much so, I think, we all know and love this bridge and we know that it has national recognition. This is an official sign that it has that national recognition and national significance as well. People talk about the Transporter Bridge across the country and across the world and it shows what kind of iconic significance it really does have.

Q: Something to be proud of?

LY: Very, very much so. We are all very proud of the bridge. We know what it means but it is about selling that story to the wider world isn’t it really. It means, yes, it is our bridge, we are proud of it, proud that we are still investing in it as well. We are proud that it still works. For most of the time. Yes, we are exceptionally proud of it. And it is about using it and using that pride to drive forward other projects and other investment. We are proud of the whole town.

Q: It is an icon for the past but does it have a role for the future?

LY: Very much so. It is a significant part of our cultural strategy, of our regeneration strategy in the Middlehaven area in particular but also in the town we have these kind of attractions and we need to use these kind of attractions to bring in people and to bring in that investment that they will potentially bring. It is about saying yes we are very proud of that cultural heritage that the Transporter Bridge symbolises but it is also about utilising it for the future of Middlesbrough and the future of the Tees Valley really.

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Trashterpiece – Saturday

This Saturday is the only weekend opportunity to see musician/artist, Teesside voice, and so much more besides, Kingsley Chapman’s exhibition and statement Trashterpiece at the House of Blah Blah.
trashterpiece-introWith a bar and some amazing Boro memorabilia to see as well as the artwork then what better way to spend your pre-match build up to Boro v Burnley. Oh and amongst that memorabilia are the giant heads of Ravanelli and Emerson that paraded the Wembley turf in our cup finals season 1996/97. Now I know you are going to want to see them.
To my eyes this is an amazingly impressive exhibition. Paintings dripping in gold, fake velvet and oozing decadence from every pore. It is an exhibition that points fingers, foam fingers and asks questions. What does Teesside mean? What is the future of Teesside? Can we escape our past?
You can bathe in the nostalgia buzz and reminisce about your favourite former nightclubs whilst watching the ZDS Northern Final highlights; you know the one we actually won, with Bernie’s amazing pivot and goal.

trashterpiece-boro
There are Boro and Teesside items festooning a special alter. Including a pin badge of Jet the Gladiator, no less.

trashterpieceOh and there is unique merchandise to buy, including t-shirts and tee towels.
Kingsley, as singer with the Chapman Family and then Kingsley Chapman and the Murder has never been shy in coming forward and making commentary about the local area. He is such a good and opinionated writer that he has scribed for many music and arts magazine and his opinion even courted by the NME.
trashterpiece-artThinking about, that last Christmas I commissioned Kingsley – posh way of saying, asked – to write me a piece for Fly Me To The Moon fanzine reflecting on his 2016 and the bigger picture (arty joke) for Middlesbrough and Teesside. His final piece was typically forthright and hard hitting but also very funny. It has made it onto some of the merchandise at the exhibition.

I will put his words up online later this week to give you a better sense of his viewpoint. But for now I want to promote this event on Saturday. If you don’t know the House of Blah Blah it is an amazing warehouse type venue, close to Middlesbrough Railway Station and almost under the A66 fly over. It is bang next door to Teesside Archives and opposite what was the Royal Exchange site. Once the main postal sorting office and now is an arts venue and performance space. Exchange House, Middlesbrough TS1 1DB
This event is 11-3pm this Saturday, 8th April. Get down and see the art, the Rav and Emmo heads and watch the ZDS Northern Final win v Aston Villa. Then you can head down to the Riverside for the first ever Fan Zone 12-3pm outside the North Stand. You cannot fall off for things to do pre kick off on Saturday.

trashterpiece-heads

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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

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Middlesbrough Memories at Dorman Museum

There is a second chance to view the Memories of Middlesbrough photo exhibition and that means twice the memories for free. A unique collection of images of buildings and people from the town in bygone days was recently exhibited for a week at Python Gallery, at Royal Middlehaven House, not far from the railway station.

dorman-memories-1The exhibition images were provided by posters on the mega-popular facebook page. The photos might originally have been taken to show for the family album but behind a sister, brother, mother, father, aunt or uncle there could have been a view of a house, pub, shop or public building. Many of these street scenes have greatly altered others have totally vanished. Mind you a street view in suburbia of leafy Linthorpe has hardly changed at all, except for the addition of cars.

Memories of Middlesbrough now occupy a space in the back corridor of the Dorman, close to the thought provoking and must-see d-Formed exhibition of Kev Howard. Now, this is where we get double value because along the same wall and just the other side of an internal door is a semi permanent collection, also from posters of the memories of Middlesbrough facebook site. This second collection has been showing for several months now but is being constantly refreshed with different photos from former schools, houses and shop frontages.

dorman-lowcocksIn the newer exhibition there is a focus on old Middlesbrough, or Over The Border as it became known. There is an amazing shot of the old Town Hall appearing to hang perilously over a gaping hole where the building beneath has been demolished. We see photos of busy streets leading up to the old market place. Or a view along North Street with the old Customs House cloaked in scaffolding.

The photos in the two exhibitions span a century of memories. There are handcarts outside of old shops and then kids standing outside of their front gardens in the 1960s.

Then there are the old businesses of the town. How many people used to buy Lowcocks lemonade? Maybe from the vans that stopped around the estates.

Memories of Middlesbrough facebook page and group, were founded in 2012 by Sue Martin who never dreamed how interest would absolutely mushroom. In less than five years the group now boasts 30,000 ‘ likes’. Members include thousands still living in and around the town, but also those no longer based in Middlesbrough scattered across the globe as far afield as Australia, South Africa and U.S.A.

Do drop in to our free town museum, the Dorman Museum and let your mind wander back through the streets, faces and former trading places of Middlesbrough. You might as well grab a cup of tea at Dressers café on the way out.

Dorman Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 9.30 am – 4.30 pm
Last entry 4.00pm

Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays.

FREE

 

 

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TOWN HISTORY TIMELINE DISPLAY UNVEILED IN MIDDLESBROUGH

Visitors to Middlesbrough can enjoy a whistle-stop tour of its history through a new timeline hoarding unveiled around the Town Hall.The Town Hall recently celebrated its 128 year anniversary since officially opening (23rd January 1889) and now residents can discover more about the history of the venue and the town.

The hoardings have been erected as part of the Middlesbrough Town Hall Refurbishment and Restoration Project. The ‘My Town Hall’ hoardings stand at 2.3 metres tall and 29.5 metres long and tell the story of modern Middlesbrough’s expansion from a small hamlet in 1801 through to the refurbishment works of the Town Hall.

The temporary display forms part of the perimeter of the contractor site on the corner of Albert Road and Corporation Road whilst renovation work is ongoing at the Grade II* Listed venue.

The hoardings have been developed by project staff and Town Hall volunteers and chart historical events in the town and venue’s history including the story of rapid Victorian expansion, iron manufacturing, opening of the Transporter Bridge and David Bowie’s performance as Ziggy Stardust at Middlesbrough Town Hall 1972.

town-hall-trail-time-lineThe timeline also features artist impressions of the completed works alongside reproductions of unique historic plans, photographs and newspaper snippets from the collections of Middlesbrough Libraries, Teesside Archives and The Gazette.

Cllr Lewis Young, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “We hope the hoardings whet the appetite of passers-by for the Town Hall restoration project which is now underway. They present a whistle-stop through the ages tour of where Middlesbrough has come from and ends with the question ‘What’s Next?’.

“The town is undoubtedly enjoying a huge upturn with new cultural, retail and leisure opportunities arriving all the time and the Town Hall when it reopens, restored to its former glory, will be the jewel in the crown of a hugely re-energised Middlesbrough centre so that is just one answer to the question.”

my-town-hallTosh Warwick, Middlesbrough Council’s Heritage Development Officer, said:  “The new hoardings capture key moments in both the story of Middlesbrough and the Town Hall spanning over two centuries and highlight the important part the venue has played in the history of the area.

“We have already had very positive feedback on the timeline and hope it generates further interest in Middlesbrough’s heritage, the history of the Town Hall and the fantastic renovation of one of the region’s leading landmarks.”

I chatted with Tosh about the illuminating time trail on the hoardings.

Q: Tosh tell me about the new town timeline outside the Town Hall.

T: The new timeline is there to celebrate key points in the town’s history. It has been produced as part of the Heriage Lottery Fund Town Hall Refurbishment project. It is going to be there during the course of the renovation work which is currently ongoing.

Q: It is very attention grabbing. I notice people are stopping to look as they walk past.

T: Yes it is very exciting. We have had the volunteers that work on the project, the project staff and I did a lot of the history research on it. It is great when you see kids walking by having a look at it and their parents pointing it out. Even people having a bit of a glimpse when they are stopping at the traffic lights. It is good and it is a way of celebrating not just the Town Hall’s history but the wider history of the Boro/borough.

Q: It starts at the beginning of modern Middlesbrough as Port Darlington and then we see the present Town Hall being built 50 years on. So I guess it puts the building in context.

T: We are aware that Middlesbrough dates back further than that but it is there to capture the modern Middlesbrough that led to the building of the Town Hall, the churches, the Transporter, Dorman Museum and the main library, just over the road.

So we have tried to capture that a bit more and show how the Town Hall reflects the wider heritage of the town. We have included things such as the opening of the Transporter Bridge and how they had the celebration at the Town Hall. How they had celebrations for other landmark events such as the end of the War and announcing of the Armistice at the Town Hall. So, how the Town Hall is part of the wider story of Middlesbrough.

We have also got information of where the town and Town Hall has been in the national spotlight as well. So I managed to get my reference to David Bowie in there, the Ziggy Stardust tour.

Q: There are two different sides to the Town Hall, as well as council offices most people will know the other side, going for gigs, such as Bowie, comedy and classical concerts.

town-hall-trail-rob-tosh-lizT: As far as I am aware my first time in the Town Hall was either my graduation from Teesside Uni or I went to see Morrissey a few years ago. Yes it is venue but it is also part of the wider town so it has got multiple uses and I hope the time-line captures that.

Q: You touched upon the War and there is a map on the time-line with an X marks the spot. Could you tell us about that.

T: There was a bomb dropped. The people at Teesside Archives have given us the Air Raid plan no, 4 and it shows where the bombs were dropped. So the night the Transporter Bridge was bombed during 1940 there was also a bomb dropped at the gas works, roughly where the new Transporter Park is now. But also on the corner near the town hall of Corporation Road/Albert Road, opposite where Hintons would have been. The bomb caused a bit of damage. I think it captures how the Town Hall was part of the wider story. Stuff like that is interesting and it is perhaps stuff that people don’t know.

Yes we have tied into information from Middlesbrough Reference Library collections. The Gazette as well has been very supportive. It is trying to showcase some of the historical parts of the town and some of the heritage resources and materials that we have that perhaps we don’t get out there as much as we might do.

Q: I love that illustration of Locomotion no.1 steaming past the early port. That takes us right back to Stockton and Darlington railway and I imagine a lot of people won’t know about the significance of that first railway to Middlesbrough’s founding. Locomotion no.1 is steaming past Middlesbrough farm house with the original Eston Nab (Napoleonic Signal Station) in the background. It is an incredibly evocative illustration is it not?

T: It shows the place before the iron and steel came in. The sketch dates from when Middlesbrough was a coal export town rather than this booming iron and steel town. It shows the Tees and the coal staithes and the farm house. People are perhaps not familiar with those images.

I have also managed to put a plan in of the old Town Hall and the grid plan of the original Middlesbrough. It all ties in to the story of why we have the Town Hall we have today.

Q: Of course this all leads to the future of the Town Hall and there are panels showing the new developments from the HLF project. It looks as if there will be more of the Town Hall opened up to more of the public.

town-hall-trail-mine-1T: On the hoardings we state ‘Find out more about the Town Hall’s history’ but we also ask the question what’s next? We have some of the computer generated images of how we expect the Town Hall will look once we have finished the work.

It is going to be fantastic. The old police cells will be opened up so people can learn about the criminal aspect of the Town Hall. The old court room where people were tried, it was later a refectory. That is going to be renovated so kids can go in there and learn about law and order in Middlesbrough and visitors too and even TV crews will be able to use it. It is brilliant. That is a fantastic resource for the town.

We are also doing some work on the main hall itself and making it a much more attractive, visitor friendly, venue. Making it a real hub for not only the town but also the region. It will be really exciting and in doing so as well we will get people interested in the area’s heritage and the stories and links to the Town Hall. Maybe people will even discover their links to the Town Hall that they weren’t aware of. So it is exciting.

Q: I believe that part of the project is to collect people’s memories. So people might have been to that Bowie/Ziggy gig or 1988 when we had the victory parade and reception for Bruce Rioch’s top flight promotion team.

T: You might have been standing in the crowd when Bruce Rioch came out onto the Town Hall steps with two arms aloft with the lads that had got us promoted.

Q: In their blazers.

T: Yes, in their Boro blazers. You might have been there for Ziggy, or for Oasis or Stone Roses, all of which are referenced on the hoardings. So it is about getting those memories. The My Town Hall strand of the project is trying to capture those memories, the photos, even the ticket stubs. Any of the ephemera people might still retain. We would love to hear from people at townhallvolunteers@middlesbrough.gov.uk

And we also have the Middlesbrough Town Hall facebook, instagram and twitter accounts too.

But it is all about bringing the Town Hall back into the community rather than it just being a building that sits in the centre of the town open occasionally for concerts. It is about making it a venue that people relate to on a daily basis and feel a sense of ownership and place.

Q: As you say daily. It will have been far more a night time venue.

T: We do open for education sessions already and we have been doing this for years daytime as we have things like Classical Cafe, we have tea dances and all kinds of events but perhaps not as high profile as what we are doing now. We are going to make it an education destination for example. We will have provision where the kids can learn about and read about and engage with digital and interactive interpretation about the story of the town and the Town Hall.

There will be similarities with what we did at the Transporter Bridge even dating back to 2000 and the more recent works. Rather than being just a functional venue or crossing in the case of the Transporter we have made it a Visitor Centre, a Visitor Experience. We are making it a place where you can actually do something and it can serve multiple functions and that will be across generations and not just for people from Middlesbrough but anyone. Which is great. END

town-hall-trail-whats-nextThe Middlesbrough Town Hall Refurbishment and Restoration Project is supported by a £3.7m Heritage Lottery Fund award, a further £3.6m from Middlesbrough Council and £500,000 awarded by Arts Council England (ACE).

Once complete it will result in the Town Hall being restore the iconic Grade II* listed building back to its full 19th Century glory.

It will see parts of the building, currently inaccessible to the public, being opened up, including the Victorian courtroom, cells and fire station which would be made into heritage attractions in their own right.

The plans also include the restoration of the carriage driveway with original glass roof which will become the main box office and circulation area, an external lighting scheme, the development of new café and bar facilities, and a new community space.

town-hall-trail-lewisFurther information on Middlesbrough Town Hall, including details on ways to get involved in the project, can be found at www.mytownhall.co.uk, on the official Facebook page www.facebook.com/MiddlesbroughTownHall, Twitter @mbro_townhall and Instagram at www.instagram.com/middlesbrough_townhall/

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