#ETW17: Independent eating, drinking and shopping

If there’s one thing the Love Middlesbrough lasses love (apart from cake, hot chocolate, and the Very Hungry Caterpillar), it’s eating, drinking and shopping. And Middlesbrough just happens to be full of fantastic independents for all your shopping, eating, drinking, hair and beauty (and more) needs. So many wonderful things – where to start…?
Bedford Street Coffee

Shopping

Whether you want a clock, a pair of designer trainers, or a new tattoo, you can get all of them (and more) without ever leaving the comfort of Middlesbrough!

With more independent businesses than you can shake a stick at, Boro’s got you covered no matter what the occasion. Beautiful wedding dresses? Check. Last minute birthday present for the person who’s got everything? Check. Emergency pair of 90s denim dungarees? Check (yes, you definitely need them).

Independent businesses are clustered on the wonderfully fabulous Baker and Bedford Streets, as well as neighbouring Linthorpe Road, Borough Road, and Grange Road, but that’s not the end of it. From Concept on Linthorpe Road to TP Coffee House in Middlehaven, our independent offer stretches across the whole town centre, not to mention into every corner of the town too – from hairdressers in Hemlington to bouquets in Berwick Hills.

Eating

Our lovely town’s foodie offer can only be described as multicultural, and who wouldn’t want to sample dishes from around the world, from the comfort of your own town? Whether you fancy Spanish chorizo at The Curing House or Turkish lahmacun at Meze Lounge, that’s just the tip of the iceberg – add in Italian, Chinese, African, Greek, Lebanese, Mexican, Indian, and Caribbean, and you’ll start to get a picture of how much of a foodie paradise this town is! (Plus, if you add in national chains, there’s also French, Portuguese, and more Caribbean!) And if after all that you’re still not convinced, there’s always somewhere which will do you a parmo!

Speaking of food, watch out for the hotly-anticipated return of Restaurant Week on May 1 – what better excuse to eat all the food!

Oh, and Middlesbrough has cake…a lot of cake…but that would need a whole other post! (You didn’t expect us to go a whole post without mentioning cake did you?)

Drinking and nightlife

As well as a culinary world tour, Boro can also lay claim to being a micropub and bar hotspot, with no less than ten quirky drinking establishments clustered around the Baker/Bedford Street/Linthorpe/Borough Road area. The Nuthatch’s craft cocktails rub shoulders with the Chairman’s real ale, while at Sticky Fingers you can enjoy a locally-produced pie and live music with your drink.

(We don’t want to miss anyone out, so here’s the full list: The Nuthatch, The Chairman, Sticky Fingers, The Twisted Lip, The Bottled Note, The Devil’s Advocate, Dovecot Bar, The Slaters Pick, Sherlocks, The Infant Hercules).

 

A final word

So independents may be a little more expensive than a national chain which can afford to keep its prices low, but the money spent in an independent business might just go on a child’s dance lessons or helping a someone provide for their family.

Money spent locally stays local for much longer than a few financial drops in the ocean of the profits of a huge national corporation. No corporation will miss the price of a sandwich or a new outfit in the grand scheme of things, but to small businesses every penny matters, and Middlesbrough is lucky enough to have a whole range of independents who are talented, dedicated and care about the town.

(Many thanks to Stuart Boulton for the lovely photo of Bedford Street Coffee!)

Love Middlesbrough Lasses
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#ETW17: Breakfast/Brunch in Middlesbrough

Eating out is one of my favourite things to do, and I think most people can agree. But sometimes and evening meal is too much effort and lunch is too time consuming, which is exactly why breakfast is the best time to eat out. With America popularising Brunch (which is possibly the best idea to come out of that country after Oreos) I think that we need to talk about that too. The ever-present question is ‘Where?’ I’ll tell you where, and when, right here, right now.

We’re sticking within the centre of Middlesbrough so you don’t have so much choice you give up and eat toast and jam at home. Here’s the 15 places for you to fill your belly and boots on a morning (and doesn’t that sound like clickbait).

Café Roys

We’ll start here, with good old comfort food. The typical British fry up is exactly what you can expect from this place. Its prices are on the low side so it’s perfect for students with that god-awful headache looking for a grease fix as well as for families with young kids. A kid-friendly place with cheap prices, who could ask for more. Look down on Victoria Road for this one, and check out their Facebook.

Sandybells Café

Our next place is Sandybells Café on Bulmer Way. This is another place for the tradition English breakfast, very similar to Café Roys but with better parking access, remember all the places listed here are within walking distance of at least one of the carparks in Middlesbrough. They are Child-friendly and do takeout, so you can take your breakfast to work and make your colleagues jealous. It’s also waiter service so if you’re too tired to walk to the counter this is brilliant. Open Monday to Saturday 8am ‘till 3pm, is this the perfect place for you? They’re also on Facebook for all your questions.

The Swatters Carr

You can’t go to America and not go to a Fast Food Restaurant, and you can’t come to England without having a Pub meal; and breakfast is the best option. The Swatters Carr is super cheap but really tasty. Served from 8am until noon, their traditional breakfast is less than £3, bargain. They also served tea and coffee for less than £1, you can’t beat it. They don’t just do traditional, they have Veggie options, children’s breakfasts and American Pancakes (maybe you can eat American in England). They do have a few healthy options too, like Tropical fruit and Greek style honey. They’re waiting on Linthorpe Road for you, Monday to Sunday from 8am, serving breakfast ‘till noon.

The Star

Let’s look at another pub, honestly England’s full of them, and go to The Star (awesome name). Serving breakfast ‘till 3pm, this is possibly the best place to go. Their menu is limited for breakfast for you can take your meal away with you, so who can complain. This isn’t one for early risers though as they don’t start serving until 10am, I guess that’s student early though.

The Fork in the Road

The Fork in the Road is a special place in Middlesbrough with a great background. They use locally sourced ingredients and are doing everything they can to make Middlesbrough a better place. They do their best to help people back onto their feet and back into the world through their ‘programme designed to offer precious opportunities to those needing a helping hand’. They also have a great menu that strays from the traditional, going for higher end food and the food that’s good for you (and some that’s really, really not). They also offer unlimited coffee and wifi for just £5, can’t beat that. This is the perfect place for your brunch meeting, or just working outside the office, with food, and coffee, and free wifi. I think I’m working in the wrong place.

Café Zim

Café Zim is our healthy option- and yes you read that right…healthy *shudders*. For all I hate the healthy foods (chocolate all the way) I have to say that this menu looks good. With a healthy version of the Full English, 3 different types of eggs, sandwiches, oats and yoghurts, you really can’t go wrong. It’s cheap as well, with all breakfast options served below £8.00 (and you get a LOT of food for that money). Serving from 9am till 11am means you can go for a healthy brunch too. Much better than a McDonald’s breakfast, I have to say.

Bedford St Coffee

Saying this is my personal favourite would be unfair, but boy do they do good poached eggs. Bedford Street is parallel to Baker Street (where Café Zim lives) and both have recently undergone a total overhaul, bringing in new businesses which are awesome! This is the place for coffee lovers, they have the best coffee and some new ways of brewing –like the aeropress for example. Their menu isn’t the most extensive and is pretty sophisticated (for me anyway) so it’s not a place I’d recommend for kids to eat. If you just want to eat yourself and provide your child with a sweet treat and a drink, they always have a great range of delicious pastries and their white hot chocolate is the one drink your child will want to finish.  They’re breakfast options are served all day and they open from 8am so perfect for the early risers.

Cupeno Coffee

Another coffee house, coffee and breakfast seem to go together. Cupeno Coffee is child-friendly and just delicious. It’s the perfect start to the day and open from 7am so I guess they only see the kind of people who take 6am jogs. I’m kidding, people who take 6am jogs are too healthy for coffee. For those of you who love the different types of drink, they serve an amazing (if fattening) white hot chocolate, yum! They serve delicious pastries, toasties and paninis, just waiting for you to try. And with 10% student discount you really can’t complain.

The Good Food Joint

Another greasy breakfast place, but this time all day. They open from 6:30am (these times are getting earlier, how the owners get up this early I will never understand) and do the Full English, as promised. They’re also open match days with away fans welcome, let’s hope they know how to end a fight.

Goodbody’s Eaterie

Goodbody’s have a good range of options for your breakfast, from the greasy sausages and bacon to the healthy poached eggs with avocado on toast, they’ve got it all. They have plenty of Veggie options and are slowing bringing in more and more gluten free options… perfect! They are reasonably priced too and it’s a great atmosphere. Perfect for breakfast meetings. And open from 8am (getting back to normal times).

Yates

This is the one chain restaurant (pub) in this list and I have to say, I’m slightly ashamed of myself. This is, however, perfect for the fussy eater. You know you can rely on this place to be just as good as every other Yates you’ve been in. It’s the typical pub menu for breakfast (and lunch and dinner but we’re not talking about that) and it’s also great value. Breakfast is served until noon and there’s wifi, so you can’t complain about this one really.

Love Middlesbrough Lasses
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Middlesbrough: A centre for design lovers

Guest post by Sarah Laurenson.

In October 2014, a group of historians and researchers visited Middlesbrough for a conference, titled ‘Victorian Cities Revisited’, to explore and share knowledge and ideas on place, space and industrial heritage. Sarah Laurenson, a doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh with a background in design and craft practice, reflects on her experiences during the visit.
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When I stepped off the train from Edinburgh late at night, I knew very little about Middlesbrough. I was attending the conference as part of my research into nineteenth-century craft and design, which involves thinking about how industry and production shaped everyday life in Britain’s towns and cities. I was expecting to hear some interesting papers, and maybe meet a few like-minded folk.

© Sarah Laurenson

Over the next two days, I was utterly charmed by Middlesbrough itself. I discovered a fascinating town steeped in history, and packed with interesting examples of design. My first taste was seeing the Victorian architecture on my morning walk through the heart of the town to the Gothic Town Hall, where the conference was held. One of the first things I learned was how Middlesbrough rose from almost nothing to become a major industrial centre in a very short period of time. In 1801 there were four houses and about 25 people living in the area; just 90 years later, the population had grown to around 90,000 as a result of the rise of the iron industry. The whole town is a product of nineteenth-century industry.

c/o Teesside Archives. CB/M/E 24In the afternoon we took a walk to the Tees Transporter Bridge – one of several trips organised as part of the conference, including tours of Teesside Archives – and learned about its design and construction. The landmark is one of the longest of its kind, and is still fully operational more than a century after it opened in 1911. It carries vehicles and passengers across the River Tees on a gondola suspended on steel wires from a rail system 160 feet above the water. We also came to understand how the Transporter has become iconic of Middlesbrough and the surrounding area as a great blue steel monument to a rich history of industry. Currently undergoing major renovations as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund supported project, the Bridge will reopen with a newly renovated Visitor Centre in the near future.

On the second day of the conference, I took a walk to the Dorman Museum to see the Christopher Dresser Collection. Often named’ the father of modern design’, Scottish-born Dresser (1834-1904) is considered to be the first independent industrial designer and was a household name in his lifetime. Dresser is known for embracing the machine, in-keeping with his ideas that good design should be simple, functional and affordable, at a time when other important designers looked to the past and ancient hand techniques. The exhibits of Dresser’s own designs – wallpapers, textiles, ceramics, glass, metalware and furniture – along with objects that inspired him during his travels to Japan, document Dresser’s life, work and travels.

Dresser © Sarah Laurenson Dresser © Sarah Laurenson

Baker Street  © Sarah Laurenson

Arriving back at Centre Square (but not before I had a look in a few of the lovely independent shops on Baker Street), I headed into mima to discover one of the finest collections of contemporary jewellery in the UK. The newly-opened jewellery gallery has 200 pieces on display by designers including Wendy Ramshaw, Felieke van der Leest and Gijs Bakker. An exhibition charts the growth of a movement known as ‘New Jewellery’, which began in the 1970s through collaborative working and exchange between artists and designers from Britain, Holland and Germany. The movement was centred on the use of new and old materials and techniques to challenge the very concept of jewellery. The gallery is an absolute must-see for any budding jewellery designer. In fact, I think it will become a place of pilgrimage and an important learning resource for designers and makers of all sorts of things. It blew my mind.

mima © Sarah Laurenson mima © Sarah Laurenson

The keynote lecture of ‘Victorian Cities Revisited’ was delivered by Professor Robert J. Morris, Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh’s School of History. Titled ‘Place and memory in the industrial city’, Morris’s talk gave insights into his own experience of Middlesbrough (including his first job as a pay clerk in the very Town Hall in which we were sat). He spoke of how this ‘town without a history’ invented an identity based on a sense of its huge achievements. Over the next hour, we considered the ways in which other industrial centres have transformed unused plant and mills to create new spaces for hotels, design studios and museums, and the exciting possibilities for Middlesbrough to continue redefining itself through its many assets: the bridge, old coke furnaces and the water front.

I spent my last hour in Middlesbrough back in mima’s jewellery gallery before returning to Edinburgh feeling more than just a little bit fond of this unassuming gem of a town. It is a centre for design-lovers of all kinds – students, researchers, designer-makers, craft workers, fabricators, engineers. I’m certain that my first time in Middlesbrough certainly won’t be my last.
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Sarah Laurenson visited Middlesbrough as part of her PhD research on the Leverhulme funded project, ‘Artisans and the Craft Economy in Scotland, c.1780-1914’ led by Professor Stana Nenadic at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh.

Victorian Cities Revisited: Heritage and History Conference’ was a two-day conference organised by Tosh Warwick of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience Project and the University of Huddersfield. The conference was funded with support from the Economic History Society and Middlesbrough Council.

All images © Sarah Laurenson, except Tees Transporter Bridge, which is courtesy of Teesside Archives (ref:  CB/M/E 24).

The Olde Young Tea House is national Independent of the Year!

OYTHFrom humble beginnings to achieving national recognition for their business, The Olde Young Tea House is going from strength to strength.

Opened in June 2010 as the dream of head tea bee Carli McNaught, Middlesbrough’s only tea house sits opposite The Cleveland Centre, and has quickly become a firm favourite on the local independent scene.

Serving a dizzying variety of over 60 teas, all beautifully laid out for customers to choose from, and a daily range of cakes so divine it’s just plain rude not to have a slice of each, The Olde Young Tea House is currently rated 5th of all restaurants in Middlesbrough, and holds a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence.

And just when life couldn’t get any better…it did!

After entering the local heat of Independent of the Year on the Love Middlesbrough Facebook page, The Olde Young Tea House beat off stiff competition from other much loved local independents Concept and Lots of Loveliness to be crowned the local winner, going on to represent Middlesbrough in the national final.

Yesterday, after competition in the national final was so fierce that the top four businesses were deadlocked, the news finally came through that our favourite tea house had been awarded the glorious title of Independent of the Year 2014.

Representing Middlesbrough and more importantly, the work they do in creating a little community of tea and cake lovers, we couldn’t be prouder to have such a wonderful business in our town, and we wish them continued sweet (and yummy) success!

Visit them at: 84 Grange Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 2LS (open Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm).
Call them to book your own tea party (you know you want to!): 07868 251420
Keep up to date with their delectable cakes: The Olde Young Tea House on Facebook

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