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Middlesborough, North Riding of Yorkshire

Historical Description

Middlesborough, a seaport town, a township, a parish, and a municipal, parliamentary, and county borough in the N.R. Yorkshire. The town stands on the river Tees, at the boundary with Durham, and on the Darlington and Stockton lection of the N.E.R., at the junction of the line to Guisbrough, immediately above the Tees' expansion into estuary, 3½ miles ENE of Stockton, and 238 by rail from London. A Benedictine priory of St Hilda, a cell to Whitby Abbey, was founded here in the time of Henry I. by Robert de Bruce, and a portion of the cemetery connected with it continued to be used up to a recent period, but all important vestiges of the buildings have disappeared. Only one house-a house occupied by a tenant of Mr W. Chilton, the proprietor of the local estate stood on the site of the town's streets in 1829. A number of shareholders of the Stockton and Darlington railway in that year purchased the estate from Mr Chilton; arranged to construct an extension of the railway to Middlesborough, on account of its commanding-greater depth of water and better harbourage than Stockton to vessels for the shipment of coals; and formed a plan for creating a town on the estate, and for making it a great entrepot of the coal trade and a considerable seat of commerce. Their plan was signally successful. The extension railway was opened at the close of 1830; the land of the-estate, comprising about 600 acres, was divided and subdivided into plots suitable to purchasers in all departments. of business; and a town sprang up and progressed with a rapidity similar to that of Birkenhead in Cheshire, and of some of the most remarkable of the great towns of America. The entire township had a population of only 40 in 1821, and only 154 at the census of 1831; but had so many as 5463 in 1841, and 18,714 in 1861. The discovery of the mineral treasures in the Cleveland Hills gave a great impetus to the trade and growth of the town, and during the next ten years the population was more than doubled, having increased in 1871 to 39,563; in 1881 it had risen to 55,288, while in 1891 it was 75,532. A recent discovery of salt has given a still further impetus to the development of trade. An Act of Parliament was obtained in 1841 for paving, watching, lighting, and otherwise improving the town, and for establishing a market; another Act was passed in 1853 constituting it a municipal borough, under the government of a mayor; and the Reform Bill of 1867 constituted it a parliamentary borough, with one representative. In 1874 the boundaries were extended and the municipal borough was divided into five wards, governed by a mayor, 10 aldermen, and 30 councillors, who also constitute the urban sanitary authority. It became a county borough under the-Local Government Act of 1888. Nor did the town progress less visibly in its aspects as a port. A commodious dock, comprising a water-area of 9 acres, and entered by a channel rather more than a quarter of a mile in length from the middle channel of the Tees, was completed in 1842. It was-extended in 1872, giving an area of 12 acres, all in one dock, capable of accommodating vessels of 3000 tons. There ar& extensive quays, provided with steam travelling cranes for loading and unloading. In 1888 further extensions and improvements were made, by which the area of the docks was increased by 4 acres and large additional quay accommodation provided, and the channel leading to the docks was widened and deepened so that large vessels could enter at all states of the tide. The Tees Conservancy Commissioners have don& much to improve the navigation of the river by the construction of the South Gare Breakwater, 2½ miles in length, which was completed in 1888, and have increased the depth of water over the bar at low water from 2 and 3 to 20 feet. The-North Gare Breakwater was constructed in 1893-95. The navigable channel of the Tees has been increased to 500 feet, and the river dredged to a depth of 15 feet at low water of ordinary spring tides. The commissioners have also constructed a graving dock at Cargo Fleet, nearly 600 feet in length and 50 in breadth. The pontoon or ferry landing, constructed for the use of excursion boats and the ferry to Port Clarence, is the property of the corporation. Tramways have been laid to the outlying districts of Liuthorpe and Newport. The commerce became important in even the early years of the town's progress, and it increased so rapidly as to occasion Middlesborough soon to be made a head port.

The town is built in a regular form, has a large square in the centre, consists chiefly of streets crossing one another at right angles, contains a large number of handsome houses, and, for a commercial town, presents a remarkably good appearance. The old town-hall stands in the central square½ and is now used as a branch police station. The new municipal buildings were opened in 1889 at a cost of about £130,000, are in the Gothic style, and have a fine tower 170 feet high. They contain a town-hall with accommodation for 3000 people, conncil chamber, free library, and various public offices. The Ironmasters' and General Exchange was erected in 1866-68; is in the Italian style, after designs by Mr Adams; has, at the W end, a tower 21 feet square and 130 high, with main entrance underneath; includes a ball 140 feet long, 60 wide, and 56 high; contains also a public reading-room and a public meeting-room, each 34 feet square; is disposed, in the ground floor of three different fronts, in fine shops and show-rooms; has, on four floors, about fifty offices and other rooms; and cost about £30,000. There are two theatres-the Theatre Royal (built in 1866, and reconstructed and redecorated in 1890) and the Prince of Wales. A beautiful park about 72 acres in extent, called the Albert Park, was given to the town by Mr H. W. F. Bolckow, and opened in 1868. There are a Chamber of Commerce, Custom House, Government Buildings (formerly the Corporation Hall, but now used as offices for the Inland Revenue, Customs, Mercantile Marine, and County Courts), a post office, and a National Lifeboat station. There are also Liberal and Conservative clubs, Masonic, Oddfellows, and Temperance halls, public baths erected in 1884 by the corporation, and since enlarged, meat market, infirmary, fever hospital, and cemetery. A grammar school was founded in 1876 and enlarged in 1886, and is governed by a local committee. There is also a high school for boys and girls, the site of which, with adjacent grounds, was presented by Sir J. Pease and his partners. It is governed by trustees, was enlarged in 1889, and has various scholarships tenable for three years. The laboratory attached to it was much enlarged in 1892.

The town has a head post office, a railway station, and some good inns. The station of the North-Eastern Railway Company, one of the finest on their system, was rebuilt in 1877 at a cost of £100,000. Several daily and weekly newspapers are published, and there are four banks. Industry is carried on in iron and steel foundries, rolling-mills, brass-works, engine-works, shipbuilding yards, chemical works, salt refineries, earthenware and bottle works, wire-mills, a tannery, breweries, saw-mills, flour-mills, rope-walks, and other establishments. The quantity of iron, steel, and coals shipped at this port is very great. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port in 1895 was 90 (39,000 tons). The entries and clearances each average 3500 (1,650,000 tons) per annum. The customs revenue amounts to £20,000 per annum. A salt bed 112 feet thick, at a depth of 1300 feet below the surface, was struck in 1863 at the sinking of a well for the supply of Messrs. Bolckow and Vanghan's immense ironworks, has proved a valuable addition to the resources of the district, and is now largely worked. The township has an area of 866 acres, including 116 of water; population, 49,611. The municipal and county boroughs comprise the township and parts of the townships or parishes of West Acklam, Linthorpe, Marton, Normanby, and Ormesby. Area, 2824 acres; population, 75,532.

The parish is divided for ecclesiastical purposes into five districts-viz., St Hilda (population, with the old parish district attached, 12,104), St John the Evangelist with Linthorpe (23,961), St Paul (25,878), St Peter (4350), and All Saints (11,661). The parish church of St Hilda was erected in 1839, is in the Early English style, and consists of chancel, nave, and western tower with spire. St John's, built in 1864, is in the Decorated style, and has nave, aisles, and transept. St Paul's was erected in 1871, and is in the Decorated Gothic style. St Peter's was erected in 1872, and is in the Early English style. All Saints' was erected in 1879, and is also in the Early English style. The livings are all vicarages in the diocese of York; net value with residence of St Hilda, £300; of St John's, £320; of St Paul's, £211; of St Peter's, £225; gross value of All Saints', £265 with residence. Patron, the Archbishop. There is a Roman Catholic Cathedral, erected in 1854 and enlarged in 1866, the town being the head of a Catholic diocese. There are Congregational, Free Methodist, Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist, Baptist, Unitarian, Presbyterian, and other dissenting chapels, a Jews' synagogue, a Friends' meeting-house, several mission-rooms and Gospel-halls, &c.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyYorkshire 
Poor Law unionStockton-upon-Tees 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Middlesborough from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for the North Riding of Yorkshire is available to browse.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following North Riding newspapers online: