d-FORMED: A Personal Journey by Kev Howard

d-FORMED is the startling autobiographical exhibition of Kev Howard. It is an incredibly hard hitting yet at the same time sensitive photographic record of the physical challenges and the constant surgical procedures Kev has faced over the years.

kev-howardKev Howard is an instantly recognisable figure, often to be seen clicking away with his camera at local gigs and events. He is surely the only expert didgeridoo player on Teesside and often performs live with his array of instruments. Both skills he has mastered with his mechanical hand. But I had absolutely no idea about the medical history, the painful decisions and indeed pain he has endured to get to this point. To say that the exhibition has been an eye opener would be a gross understatement. But also it underlines once again what a wonderful photographer and a great artist Kev undoubtedly is.

The exhibition starts as we confront a representation of the mask that Kev would have worn as he was anaesthetised before going down to surgery as a young lad. The emotions of fear were gradually superseded as he grew older and more experienced. But it is still a very stark gateway for us to the photo representations of the operations and outcomes as his growing body was realigned.

kev-my-left-footIt isn’t something I have ever really thought about before the decisions as to whether to increase function or even sacrifice a limb. I guess I have a tiny insight in that I was born with an extra digit and have been left with a thumb that only half works but that is absolutely nothing whatsoever compared to Kev growing facing so many physical challenges. These are challenges he still has to live and cope with throughout his life.

I found there was real beauty in the photography. When Kev replaces his limbs with coloured sculptured forms he forces us to think about why we often see beauty as skin deep or not.

kev-howard-formsThe final blood spattered image confronts the present system of appeals people must now leap through for disability benefits and all the trauma people are being put through. After Kev’s exhibition we are better placed to realise the back history and the physical and emotional ordeals some being reassessed for benefits have been through already.

kev-howard-bloodThis is such a brave exhibition for Kev to undertake. He has put his body on the line for surgery and now once again through his lens. It is a powerful statement brilliantly presented. For the viewer you will go on a real journey and I think be much enriched and rewarded for taking it.

D-Formed is displayed until 23 April at Dorman Museum that is open Tuesday to Sunday every week.

Memories of Middlesbrough Exhibition at The Python Gallery

The Python Gallery in Middlehaven hosted the launch of the new ‘Memories of Middlesbrough’ Exhibition on Saturday 21st January, showcasing photographs of the town from bygone days and bringing memories flooding back for dozens of visitors. Founded in 2012, the popular Facebook group has tens of thousands of members, has already exhibited at the Dorman Museum and even produced its own calendars. Dr Tosh Warwick, Middlesbrough Council’s Heritage Development Officer attended the event to encourage visitors to share memories of Middlesbrough Town Hall as part of the #MyTownHall HLF project and also caught up with Memories of Middlesbrough founder Sue Martin to find out more about the group and exhibition.

My Town Hall memory packs at Memories of Middlesbrough exhibition at the Python Gallery

Approaching The Python Gallery, visitors are met with a combination of Middlesbrough past, present and future. The venue is surrounded by iconic buildings dating back to the days of the ‘ Ironopolis’ . A stone’ s throw away from the Gallery, housed in Royal Middlehaven House, is Middlesbrough’ s first (Old) Town Hall, dating back to 1846. Other illustrious neighbours include the former offices of the town’ s early founders at Queen’ s Terrace, Henry Bolckow and John Vaughan’ s former Cleveland Buildings residence (Plenary), and the adjacent Cleveland Club (Gibson House, Boho Four), all recently refurbished and adorned with newly-installed blue heritage plaques produced as part of the HLF-supported Tees Transporter Bridge Trail. Looking to the north east towards the recently renovated Tees Transporter Bridge, there are further signs of regeneration in the form of the new Transporter Park opened in 2016.Inside the venue, the TP Coffee House and Café caters for the local businesses, tourists and visitors to the various exhibitions held in the gallery.

The ‘ Memories of Middlesbrough’ Exhibition brings together work showcasing some of the stand out images which have featured on the popular Facebook group. The growth of the Memories of Middlesbrough’ s page and group, founded in 2012, has been phenomenal.In less than five years the group boasts some 30,000 ‘ likes’ and members, an expansion outpacing even the famously rapid growth of the Victorian‘ boom town’ on which its content is focused. Members includes 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.

It is clear the exhibition and group is about more than just old photos of the town, with Sue explaining her inspiration for Memories of Middlesbrough was her own love of the old buildings, her own photos of the buildings that were still in the town, and a realisation of some of those that no longer exist. There is a sense of a community coming together to reminisce, share and showcase their memories of the town in bygone years, with the founder eager to point out that the Exhibition is the result of contributions from members of the Facebook group.

Transporter Bridge

The ‘ Memories of Middlesbrough’ Exhibition reflects the wide-ranging interests of the group, spanning instantly recognisable landmarks including the Transporter Bridge, the Old Town Hall (featured in Sue’ s favourite image in the Gallery) and Middlesbrough Town Hall, to those lesser known parts of Middlesbrough’ s past. Middlesbrough Library, Lowcocks lemonade, the Dolls Hospital, Dorman Museum, children playing on an abandoned car in Cannon Street and the cannon in Albert Park all sit alongside each other to provide fascinating snapshots of Middlesbrough’ s heritage. The images prompt memories and exchanges amongst those in the gallery, just as the online platform has done so successfully.Visitors share coffee with new acquaintances and friends made as a result of membership of the group.

There are hopes for further Memories of Middlesbrough developments to “keep people enjoying it” and following on from the their stint at The Python Gallery (21st to 28th January), the photos will be added to an existing display at the Dorman Museum which will continue up to Easter.

Sue Martin can be heard in discussion with Tosh Warwick at the launch of the ‘ Memories of Middlesbrough’ Exhibition.

Listen as Sue Martin introduces herself and explains what Memories of Middlesbrough is all about:

 

Listen as Sue Martin discusses the exhibition and the motivation behind Memories of Middlesbrough:

 

More information on the Middlesbrough Town Hall ‘ My Town Hall’ project can be found at www.mytownhall.co.uk or by contacting townhallvolunteers@middlesbrough.gov.uk

By Tosh Warwick

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

A Weekend in Middlesbrough at Christmas

Geoff Vickers visited Middlesbrough just before Christmas and sent us this blog about the happy experience. Formerly Secretary of Middlesbrough Supporters South and working in financial services in the City, Geoff is a Boro season ticket holder travelling up for matches from the Home Counties. In December he decided to make a weekend of the trip to see Boro v Swansea with his partner Liz in December.

It is a rare chance to spend some time back in Middlesbrough. I have spent most of my Boro supporting life travelling from my home just North of London – almost always driving or taking the train up and back in one day.

orange pip aug 1A month or so ago I read an intriguing blog from a group of Bournemouth supporters who had spent an overnight stay on Teesside back in October before and after our game with them and indeed their glowing report on the town centre especially around Baker and Bedford Streets in the town centre.  I also read that Baker Street had been named as a “Rising Star” in The Great British High Street competition.

So it was the Swansea game just before Xmas that provided us with the perfect opportunity to spend a couple of days sampling for ourselves what the Cherries’ supporters had so enjoyed and have a night on the town in Middlesbrough. It turned out to be a very good weekend.

We booked into a town centre hotel – the Express at Holiday Inn opposite the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), which, as it turned out, was perfectly located for a weekend stay. The room overlooked a fine seasonal display of lights sparkling from the trees in front of MIMA. Perfect to place us in the Christmas mood.

We had lunch on the Friday at another establishment that has been enjoying media accolades. Chadwicks Inn in Maltby owned by Gary Gill, his wife Helen, manager Lee Tolley and head chef Jon Appleby. A super relaxing way to kick off the weekend and shake off the 220 mile drive North.

I am told properties in Baker and Bedford Street were taken over by the Local Authority over the last two years and have undertaken a funding programme of regeneration and refurbishment. The area has been completely rejuvenated and what a job they have done. Baker Street was first to receive its make-over in 2014 and neighbouring Bedford Street followed over the following months.

Rob (Nichols) offered to host us on the Friday night and an initial walk down the two streets was a real eye opener. There is a continental European feel about the area with an array of independent shops, bars and restaurants with every establishment  seemingly full with season revellers.  We met in Sherlocks on Baker Street,  a small intimate bar with couches and a small corner bar with an array of beers I hadn’t really seen in a pub in Middlesbrough outside of the Wetherspoons in town.  There was a good buzzing atmosphere coupled with some new beers locally brewed.  Immediately along the road is The Twisted Lip and across the road The Slaters Pick –more fantastic editions to the small beer pub scene. To give the street a Bohemian feel both sides are full of independent shops that are so crucial in retaining character to the locality, including  a vintage clothes shop,  a deli and a furniture retailer amongst them.

And so to the next street along and Bedford Street which has become a go to place to both eat and drink with an array of recommended eateries and the Chairman pub the latest beer pub introduction. And the town centre rejuvenation doesn’t stop at those two streets.  Dimi Konstantopoulos has just opened his modern greek eaterie “Great” on Linthorpe Road and Al Forno  and Oven around the corner are, amongst many other strong offerings. According to TripAdvisor Middlesbrough has 80 places to eat with 4 or more review stars.

Match day morning we enjoyed a really good breakfast over at MIMAs new bistro the Smeltery and sister restaurant to the Waiting Room in Eaglescliffe.  The weekend was rounded off by a fine 3-0 win against the Swans.

I wanted to recount our experience, as Middlesbrough is no doubt becoming a serious weekend break destination that will only serve the town and local economy well. It is fantastic to see. I will come again before the season’s end and hope to try new places  Final mention of the hotel which is a fine ambassador for the town. The friendly welcome on reception and the hotel comfort was just top class. And as somebody who works in London fantastic value for money.

The Love Middlesbrough campaign is definitely working for me.

Blog originally printed in Fly Me To The Moon fanzine Issue 572 Boro v Leicester City 2/1/2017

Geoff Vickers

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.