Top 5 most Instagram-worthy places in Middlesbrough!

Centre Square
Centre Square is amazing, it’s like a 5 for the price of 1 deal, and you can’t ask for more than that! For the fans of older buildings, you have the Town Hall and Central Library, and mima’s there representing the more modern stuff. Plus you have the Bottle of Notes and the fountain, which are both amazing with a sunrise behind them.


Acklam Hall
You can’t not love the only Grade I listed building in Middlesbrough (FYI, a Grade I listing puts it in the same category of historical importance as York Minster and Tower Bridge!), but where do we begin? The outside of the building? The ceilings? The staircase (😍)? The grounds? Oh so, so many things to love about it!
(Thank you to Love Middlesbrough Lass Claire for letting me use her gorgeous photo of Acklam Hall at sunset!)

Middlesbrough Dock
This is a more recent discovery for me, but one that just keeps on giving. I love water and reflections, and while the water isn’t really still enough for a reflection, it doesn’t stop it being a great place to take photos. It works in any weather too, from sunshine to stormy clouds, but hold onto your hats, it’s windy around there! (There are some great photos of the Dock in our post about the InstaMeet we held in April if you’ve not checked it out already ☺️)


Albert Park in autumn
I love autumn trees sooooo much 🍂. I can’t lie, my photos of Albert Park in the autumn are some of my favourites I’ve ever taken, and I managed to make myself late for work because I was so distracted by taking as many as I could (oops). Because of the way the trees are planted on either side of the path, you’re just walking on a carpet of orange leaves and it’s like the most magical, autumnal thing ever!

Central Library
I’m a sucker for historic buildings (I know, I kept that one super quiet!) so the Reference Library just makes me fangirl like crazy. I spend a lot of time looking up (try it sometime – loads of shops in the town centre have lovely facades on the first floor), and the Reference Library is perfect for that. Just look at those lights! Plus, the outside of the building is pretty special too…

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/

ROLL UP FOR A LAST CHANCE TOUR OF THE TOWN HALL

There’s a last chance to take a peek behind the scenes at one of the jewels in Middlesbrough’s crown before it undergoes a major makeover.

This late Victorian Grade II* listed gem is set to close to the public next month (April) for major restoration and redevelopment works.

The £8 million project – funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Middlesbrough Council and Arts Council England – will see historic parts of the building opened up, including the Victorian courtroom, cells and fire station.

Visitor access will be vastly improved, offering greater insight into the history of the building, while plans also include the restoration of the carriage driveway with original glass roof and the creation of new café and bar facilities.

This month’s tours – on March 16, 20 and 23 – will include the courtroom, carriage driveway, dressing rooms and the Victorian concert hall.
Going behind the scenes will be a chance to see where big hitters like The Clash and wrestler Big Daddy hung out before doing their thing on the main stage.
Talking of The Clash I recall that at the end of the night the crowd surged forward and ripped the main doors from their hinges. Ah the good old days!
People will have so many memories of this working building. I recall getting my weekly pay cheques in brown envelopes here before spending some of my £45 on a meal at the canteen in the old courtroom. This courtroom is itself a wonderful Victorian survivor that will become and arts venue and café when the building reopens.

Those joining these unique ‘last chance’ tours will also be offered the opportunity to be among the first to visit the building when it re-opens in 2017.

Cllr Lewis Young, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “The Town Hall is a truly iconic piece of Middlesbrough’s cultural heritage, and one that is rightly treasured by local people.

“These tours are a unique opportunity to have a look behind the scenes before this grand old building undergoes the biggest makeover in its history.”

There are some real surprises in store on the tours. How many knew that the town’s fire station once operated from this building? Or that gentlemen and ladies once pulled up at the hall under the cover of a carriageway. Both the carriageway and fire station sites still exist.

Under the courtroom prisoners waited to be called to the dock from prison cells still with their heavy doors and peep holes. You can stand in the dock yourself, beneath the ornately painted ceiling.

It will be a real boon for the town that the Victorian town hall can be opened up to more of the community and become a major attraction for the whole town. But soon it will be closing its big doors for sometime so do not miss out on a last chance to share the secrets of this grand old lady of Middlesbrough.

Tour Dates

Wednesday, March 16 2pm & 6pm
Sunday, March 20 11am & 2pm
Wednesday, March 23 2pm & 6pm

Tickets are £3 each or four for £10. Please note parts of the tour are not suitable for wheelchair users – contact the box office for further information.

Tours last approximately 90 minutes.

Book tickets via Middlesbrough Town Hall Box Office – 01642 729 729 or online via www.middlesbroughtownhallonline

last chance tour

Larchfield Launch for Discover Middlesbrough 2015

Councillor Nicky Walker joined manager Mike English for a bacon brunch launch for Discover Middlesbrough 2015 at Larchfield Community. We then joined the local knit and natter group in full swing in the main hall.

larchfield launch

Photos Tracy Hyman
knit and natter 1The two week long festival is inviting people to explore, experience and enjoy the attractions and cultural and heritage facilities of Middlesbrough. This includes an open day at the Camphill Village Trust, Larchfield Community on Thursday 29th October.

knit and natter 3Launch photos Tracy Hyman

The festival proper will kick off with a spectacular evening of fun at Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark on Friday night. Centre Square will be the heart of the action where there will be unusual and spectacular art installations and lots to get involved in. There will also be behind the scenes tours of the Town Hall and the Empire Theatre as well as opportunities to take a lift to the top of the Tees Transporter Bridge for a unique night time view over Teesside.

From Friday, October 16 to Saturday, October 31, all are welcome to Discover Middlesbrough, from its well-known attractions to its hidden gems.

There’s something for everyone, from newcomers to curious locals looking to enjoy everything from art and literature to the great outdoors.

The festival continues to grow every year, and now boasts a greater variety of events than ever before accessible on foot, and some by cycling and even running.

There are also more interactive events enabling people to get creative, share memories and get out and about – alongside exhibitions and displays for those looking for a more leisurely experience.

For the inquisitive there are rare chances to take a peek behind doors that are normally closed off to the public – including a magical history bus tour of secret locations on Saturday, October 24. Be sure to book early as the bus ride is almost always fully subscribed.

It is a fortnight when the spotlight is shared between municipal museums and galleries and the activities of voluntary groups that look after many of our heritage buildings and green open spaces.

The many skilled local historians and keen amateur tour guides join with professionals to bring a wider appreciation of Middlesbrough’s heritage, culture and leisure.

The 2015 two-week festival will be kicked off in spectacular style on Friday, October 16 with a large nocturnal gathering in centre square when the message is Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.

There will also be the chance to grab an unforgettable night time view over Middlesbrough from the top of the Transporter Bridge.

On Saturday, October 17, why not join in an attempt to cycle the distance between Whitby and Durham – all in the safe surroundings of the Middlesbrough Cycle Circuit?

mbro cycle circuit webThe newly opened Middlesbrough’s Sports Village will also open its doors Thursday, October 29 giving runners and walkers of all ages and abilities the chance to take to the running track for a free Smile Mile.

Last year’s popular Art Weekend returns on Saturday, October 24 when artists will throw open the doors to their studios and invite visitors to take a look inside. The more energetic can join in an Art Run starting at mima and joining up the open studios.

Throughout the fortnight mima will be hosting its own Localism festival, give local residents a chance to share their own history of art in the town.

On Wednesday, October 21 and Thursday, October 22 there’s an opportunity to go behind the scenes at the at William Lane Foundry, the last of its kind in the town’s ironmaster district and recently featured on Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys.

Discover Middlesbrough 2015 draws to a close on Saturday, October 31 with a chance to take a special trail around central Middlesbrough to find out about the town’s unsung heroines, its Hidden Women.

hidden women webCouncillor Lewis Young, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “Discover Middlesbrough is a chance to celebrate Middlesbrough’s fantastic history and heritage, as well as its thriving contemporary cultural scene.

“Every year we look to find new and innovative ways to showcase the great things on our doorstep, and this year’s festival looks set to be the best yet.

“It’s a golden opportunity to take a closer look at the things we treasure but perhaps take for granted, but also to discover some of the gems that may have passed us by.

“The 2015 programme is a true feast of events, exhibitions, talks and walks that I know will appeal both to local people and those who are new to the town.”

Discover Middlesbrough is presented by Middlesbrough Council’s Festival and Events Team and co-ordinated by Tracy Hyman and Robert Nichols.

Discover Middlesbrough festival programmes are now available from venues across Middlesbrough, including libraries, community hubs, museums, MiddlesbroughTown Hall, Middlesbrough FC and the Transporter Bridge Visitor Centre.

Digital versions can also be viewed at

http://issuu.com/lovemiddlesbrough/docs/discover_middlesbrough_2015

Follow Discover Middlesbrough on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/Discovermiddlesbrough and on Twitter at @discovermbro

LAUNCH PHOTOS TRACY HYMAN

discover2