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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The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s adventures in Middlesbrough!

If there’s one thing the Love Middlesbrough Lasses love (other than food), it’s the Very Hungry Caterpillar! (We’ve been really subtle about it, haven’t we?)  So when we were asked by Middlesbrough Theatre to make a video promoting the Very Hungry Caterpillar’s theatre show, we were absolutely on board!

The brief was to film the Very Hungry Caterpillar in different famous places in Middlesbrough and make a video of it, so off we went (with not one but two caterpillars!) on a trip around the town.  The video will be appearing on your screens very soon, but we thought you’d love to see some of our behind the scenes pics.

We started off at the Transporter Bridge, because there’s nowhere more iconic!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Tees Transporter Bridge

Meanwhile, the baby Caterpillar who’s scared of heights visited Transporter Park, and then they met the dinosaurs at Teesaurus Park.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Transporter Park The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Teesaurus Park

There was a lot of climbing around, especially on the Bottle of Notes…

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Bottle of Notes

The Very Hungry Caterpillar(s) enjoying the Bottle of Notes

We also stopped for a snack break in Stewart Park, for very good ice cream!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying ice cream

It’s a hard life going on adventures, so we had to give the Caterpillar lots of time to rest.  You know what they say – never work with animals!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Tees Transporter Bridge The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Stewart Park

As well as getting to explore loads of fantastic places like the top of the Transporter Bridge, the Dorman Museum, and getting fed ice cream, the Caterpillar also got into some trouble, like getting stuck down a chair at Middlesbrough Theatre…

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Middlesbrough Theatre

…and climbing into the Albert Park cannon!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Albert Park

And of course, because it wouldn’t be Love Middlesbrough without cake, we took our two hungry caterpillars (and hungry Lasses) for some amazing cakes made by the fabulous Songbird Bakery!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Songbird Bakery cakes

And the Caterpillar(s) didn’t get around by themselves – there was also heaps of work done by the Love Middlesbrough Lasses (and honorary Love Middlesbrough Lass, Matt!)

Love Middlesbrough Lasses (and Lad) Love Middlesbrough Lass (and Lad) 

In case you missed it the first time we put the link in, you can book your tickets for the Very Hungry Caterpillar show via Middlesbrough Theatre.

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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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#ETW17: Family-friendly Middlesbrough

The hardest thing of all when we started writing about family-friendly Middlesbrough was narrowing it down to a manageable list, so to help us out we asked a selection of Love Middlesbrough buddies to share their top picks and reasons why they are so family friendly. We’ve kindly included some direct quotes which you’ll see scattered throughout in italics, because we all know that there’s nothing better than word of mouth, from people in the know.

Middlesbrough Sports Village and Playworld
A popular choice, our family-friendly fans couldn’t recommend this highly enough! The soft play area has four floors and includes rope bridges, tunnels and so much more; there’s also a ‘toddle zone’ area suitable for little ones who are not yet brave enough to climb!funvillage-2_1

The soft play area is great, particularly for toddlers. They have a host of bikes available too which means all the family can get involved as they even have the bike trailer things for tiny kids.

It’s reasonably priced, well looked after, has lots to do and very clean. We often take all the kids there when we have visitors from London because they all really like it too. 

Playworld is open from 9.30am – 6pm, Monday to Sunday. Entry price is £5, for children up to 12 months old entry is £1. There are also term-time offers and children’s party facilities! There’s heaps of parking and easy access to all areas. Find out more at Middlesbrough Sports Village.

Stewart Park
Ooof – it’s really hard to choose just one thing to talk about for Stewart Park as there are so many brilliant things you can do! Take a stroll, feed the ducks, count the totem poles, visit the Farmers’ Market (the last Sunday of every month) and eat loads of tasty local food, swing and bounce in the playground, enjoy some cake in the cafe…the list well and truly could go on. It’s a fantastic park that has something for all ages, and best of all, it’s mostly free!

stewart-park-family-fun-2012-3…great for all ages, the park is great and it also has a swing suitable for children who use a wheelchair. The café is great, very friendly and really reasonably priced.

A brilliant all-rounder, it’s an ideal place to meet up with friends – they bring their kids, I bring my dog, we go for a stroll taking in all the delights of the playground and work up an appetite before we head to the cafe for a proper catch-up over some cake! 

…loads of space for picnics and games on the open grass, hide and seek in the woods and a play area suitable for a wide range of children. It’s pushchair and wheelchair accessible too. 

There’s loads of free parking available, including buggy-friendly and disabled spaces. Find out more about Stewart Park, including the opening times, but the best way is just to go and see it for yourself. It will only take one visit to convince you…

Teesaurus Park
Did you know we have dinosaurs in Middlesbrough? Well, we do, and we LOVE them! It’s one of those places that either you know about and go all the time, or you’ve never heard of it before and are amazed when you find out it exists.teesaurus-park Our top pick recommendation came from the former and they are frequent visitors.

Teesaurus Park is the best – we start getting excited as soon as we pull in to the car park (and that’s just the adults!) 

You can find the dinosaurs on Riverside Park Road, and there’s plenty of free parking available. In the spirit of total honesty, there’s not a lot else around there so we would recommend toilet visits before you head out, and take your own drinks and snacks if you want refreshments!

Dorman Museum/Dressers Tea Room
It’s free entry to the beautiful Dorman Museum (some temporary exhibitions charge a small fee) and there’s loads of stuff to do from family-friendly trails to heading straight upstairs to play with the amazing fish floor! There’s plenty of space for diving around and hiding in tunnels and just generally having an absolutely brilliant time! At the end of your visit you can pop in to Dressers Tea Room for an afternoon treat for all the family.

There’s loads of kid-friendly options [in Dressers Tea Room] even for the fussy ones…  

For some extra family friendly fun, there’s also the fabulous Little Lion sessions that run on Thursdays from 1pm – 2.30pm. The sessions are £1.50 per child and include a drink and a biscuit.

The Dorman Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 9.30am to 4.30pm (last entry is at 4pm). Find out more and read some Trip Advisor reviews at the same time via the Museum website. While you’re so close, you should definitely include some time to call in to Albert Park which is right next door!

Cineworld Movies for Juniors
What do you do if it’s pouring down with rain and it’s the weekend and you’re desperate to take the kids somewhere? Cineworld in Middlesbrough have the answer: Movies for Juniors! From just £2 (£3.50 for 3D movies!) there’s animated and live-action films to choose from, available on Saturday mornings at 10am (times subject to change). Please note that all children must be accompanied by an adult. You can also book in advance to avoid any queues.

Creams Cafe: ice-cream, crepes and more!
Creams was added as a last-minute top tip after a recent visit this past weekend. With a massive menu choice and a cool, kid-friendly interior, it’s a brilliant place for a weekend treat (for teens and adults too!). There’s ice-cream, crepes, waffles and loads of other tasty treats that will make you go all heart eyes emoji and wonder if you need one waffle or two…highly recommended! Visit the website for opening times and more info. There’s also an online menu…just saying…

As with all of our English Tourism Week posts we can only share small snippets or we’d be here all day and you would be too! You’re bound to have a list of all your own favourite places – feel free to share them in the comments below and let other families know about your special places. Sharing is caring 😃

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Memories of Middlesbrough Exhibition

Memories of Middlesbrough facebook (closed) group has been an absolutely phenomenal success since the page was set up in 2012 by Sue Martin. It is now bulging at the seams with over 12000 members and a staggering 20 000 likes. They are very active members too, posting photos and stirring up memories of Middlesbrough’s streets, buildings and people. Memories shared are almost given new life again.

Memories of Middlesbrough have been given some exhibition space at the town’s free museum Dorman Museum where a number of photos taken by the members are now on display. The exhibition was launched last month as part of Discover Middlesbrough. The display will be re-jigged with some different photos after Christmas.

momdorman1Just to underline what a phenomenon it is there have been MoM calendars, there was an exhibition at mima in association with Araf Chohan and a book is in the pipeline of photos taken by the facebook community group members.

In the meantime do go along upstairs and have a wander down Memories of Middlesbrough lane. Ride the roundabout in Albert Park or play out in the Linthorpe streets. Remember when there was a bustling market on Sussex Street. Remember when there was a Sussex Street!

Hugh Bell school may be long gone but the Winners photo lives on. Talking of celebrations get the bunting out again for a Middlesbrough V.E. street party.

Dorman Museum – Open Tues to Sunday 9.30am to 4.30pm (Closed Mondays)

momdorman2

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