There are young people in Middlesbrough these days who don’t realise that their town is in Yorkshire. With the messing around with administrative boundaries since the early 1970s and the temporary creation of areas like Teesside and Cleveland, all sorts of confusion exists. Even the National Trust Handbook’s maps leave Middlesbrough in a kind of no man’s land between Yorkshire to the south and County Durham to the north. Of course Middlesbrough is in Yorkshire. The boundaries of Yorkshire haven’t changed. Middlesbrough, Redcar, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Guisborough and Staithes are all part of Yorkshire.
JB Priestley described Middlesbrough as ‘a dismal town’ and said that its inhabitants had two passions – beer and football. A bit harsh. The town has had a bad press.
Middlesbrough grew rapidly after iron ore was discovered in the Cleveland Hills in 1850. Industry developed and the population grew quickly. In the twentieth century the chemical industry accelerated the growth. Today the population is about 145,000. The Transporter Bridge, opened in 1911, is the town’s best known landmark. The Town Hall is a fine example of late Victorian Gothic architecture. The new Cellnet Riverside Stadium is the home of Middlesbrough Football Club, the Boro, a Premiership club with a loyal and devoted following.
South of Middlesbrough are the North Yorks Moors, a national park. Many are wild heather- covered and flat topped, divided by deep valleys like Rosedale, Farndale and Newton Dale. Walkers and motorists enjoy breath-taking views. There are also cultivated woodlands like Dalby Forest and the remains of monastic houses at Rievaulx, Rosedale, Mount Grace and Byland.
Captain James Cook, as he became, was born at Marton. In the shadow of Roseberry Topping is Great Ayton where he went to school before growing up and discovering Australia. The cottage where he was born was shipped to Australia stone by stone in 1934. A monument to Captain Cook on Easby Moor dominates the Cleveland skyline.
Just outside Middlesbrough is Ormesby Hall, an eighteenth century Palladian house boasting fine plasterwork and elaborate carved wood decoration. The National Trust has restored the laundry, scullery, game larder and kitchen to how they were in Victorian times. The stable block is well worth seeing as is the attractive garden and holly walk.So whilst Middlesbrough might not be Paris or Venice, with Teesdale to the west, the Moors to the south and the coast to the east it is well placed. And it’s in Yorkshire.
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