“Middlesbrough has no Archaeology”? The Unique Archaeology of Teesside by Spencer Carter

In this informal article, Spencer reviews the state of our built historic environment and archaeology in the Tees area. He uses selective examples to illustrate ‘a unique portfolio’: assets we cherish; archaeology and heritage at risk; some of the losses and ‘near-misses’ over the last generations. While heritage and archaeology are, generally, highly valued socially, culturally and economically, Spencer discusses some of the contradictions apparent today. These include threats to physical remains – the known and yet to be discovered – as well as to the archaeological profession itself. The piece concludes with some easy, practical steps that people can take to ensure their elected representatives know that our shared heritage is valued. Archaeology Matters!

A recommended reading list, much available online, and links to related resources are included at the end of the article.

FULL ARTICLE “Middlesbrough has no Archaeology”? The Unique Archaeology of Teesside by Spencer Carter

Questions on the Local Plan Issues Paper

The Local Plan is up for review and will set-out a vision for the future development of Middlesbrough in relation to housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure up to 2033. The Local Plan when adopted, will replace a number of existing planning policy documents, and provide a basis for determining planning applications within Middlesbrough.  Now is our chance to get involved and debate about how we want the town to change and develop.

Over the past year or so, I have seen the town change; Places such as Baker St/Bedford St/The Curve may be the heritage of the future worthy of protection. Some “sustainable developments” (whatever that is) have put heritage and natural habitats at risk and do not appear to support long term sustainability of the town. More houses, means more cars, more roads, more pollution. Cutting down trees and not maintaining existing trees means less good quality air to breathe. Some examples of neighbourhood “regeneration” appear to leave a big hole in the heart of the town and the hearts of some who once lived there. These are issues that need to be open for discussion, including the possible sale of assets for less than market value.

My hope for 2017 is that council and public can debate about planning issues without it becoming reduced to an argument about pro or anti- development, reactive nimbyism or caught up in a wave of political disputes. Effective consultation and engagement with the public will be beneficial for us all. The residents of Middlesbrough are experts about the places and spaces of value; not just in monetary terms but value to communities.

Going into the New Year is the chance for residents to have a say on the future development of the town. To get involved you can follow the link: http://consult.middlesbrough.gov.uk/portal and type in Local Plan into the search, or you can answer some or all of the questions which have been taken from the issues paper for you to look at easily. Responses can also be sent as a hard copy to:

Planning Policy, Middlesbrough Council, PO Box 504, Civic Centre, 1st Floor, Middlesbrough, TS1 9FY

Responses must be sent before 30th January 2017

Please take the time to comment on some of the issues raised. It is only by getting involved in the planning process and consulting each other, will we be able to bring about positive changes and help shape a town we can be proud of.


S1: How to deliver growth? Is growth the right strategy for Middlesbrough? If so what should it look like? If not how can we meet the future needs of the population in terms of housing, jobs, education and other key infrastructure needs?

And how we would deal with population growth? How can we deliver growth? How do we address the infrastructure and service needs and impacts associated with population growth?


S2: Should development be focused on greenfield locations. Should we be looking to deliver the majority of our development needs on greenfield sites? If so where? If not, what is the alternative to ensure we address the needs of our population?


S3: Should development be focused on key sites. Opportunities for development in Middlesbrough are limited given the tight geographical boundaries of the town. Should we be focusing future development on key locations? How should such locations be chosen?


S4: Brownfield v greenfield Should development be focused on brownfield sites? If so how will growth aspirations be met? Should brownfield sites be used to meet particular development needs? If so which? Can brownfield sites meet all of the town’s needs? If not how much land should be released for greenfield? How can we use greenfield sites to help deliver harder to develop brownfield ones?


S5: Should development be focused on the creation of self-contained sustainable communities/extensions. Would it be best to meet future housing needs by building new communities which can cater for all needs, housing, employment, schools, open space, community facilities etc? If so where?


S6: What role should regeneration sites play in meeting future needs Delivering regeneration is a key priority of the Councils. How can they be best utilised in meeting the town’s future needs? Should they be the focus for mixed used developments? Or should they be the focus of a particular type of development e.g housing, employment, education, commercial?


Strategic context – Housing Local Plan 2014

This plans for around 7000 new homes up to 2029, an annual requirement of 410 new homes a

year. This was based on the Council’s s aim to halt outmigration and to deliver population growth

through natural change (as a result of higher birth rates than death rates). The Local Plan was

based on a balance of housing on both greenfield and brownfield sites. Since the adoption of the

Housing Local Plan in November 2014 housebuilding has increased significantly with more than 1000 new homes being built.


Population Growth and Housing

H1: Housing numbers

Is the current housing requirement for Middlesbrough correct or does it need to be amended? Should the figure be higher to support economic growth if so by how much? Or should it be lower? If so why? If lower how can the needs of Middlesbrough’s population growth be met? What impacts will housing growth have on infrastructure needs?


H2: Affordable housing

How should the Local Plan deliver affordable housing? Should this be located on site within developments or off site to assist the delivery of regeneration? How much and what type of affordable housing should we be delivering?


H3: Students

Should we be catering for all student growth? How should student accommodation be provided as purpose built accommodation within the town centre or dispersed throughout the town?


H4: Gypsies and travellers

If a need for a new gypsy site is identified should this be accommodated on extension or expansion of existing sites or elsewhere within Middlesbrough. What criteria should be used to identify an alternative site if required?


H5: Regeneration sites

How can the Local Plan support the delivery of regeneration sites? Should the numbers of houses on

these sites stay the same or be reduced? Should other uses be considered?


H6: An ageing population

Should we be enabling older people to stay in their own homes, which potentially puts extra pressure on existing housing? Or should we be looking to meet the needs of older people through the provision of bungalows, retirement villages and extra care facilities? If so where should this provision be located?



Self and custom build housing

How should self and custom build housing be delivered? Should this be through the allocation of small parcels of land or should it be provided as part of the development of large sites?




E1: Employment land

What level of economic growth and how much employment land should we plan for?


E2: Employment sectors

Should we focus on employment growth on particular sectors? If so which sectors?


E3: Employment locations

Where should we focus development needed to meet our economic growth aspirations? For example in traditional employment locations such as Riverside Park or as part of mixed communities, the Town Centre?


E4: Average wages

How can the Local Plan secure well paid jobs and meaningful training for all?


E5: Middlehaven

How can Middlehaven contribute to Middlesbrough’s economic growth needs?


E6: Barriers to growth

What are the barriers to Middlesbrough achieving economic growth? How can the Local Plan address these, and facilitate growth? What are the infrastructure requirements?


E7: Higher education

What role should the University and Middlesbrough College have in driving forward and supporting economic growth? How can the Local Plan support their aspirations?


Town Centre


TC1 Role of the town centre

What should the role of the town centre be in the future? What uses should we be planning for? Are there

any uses which are lacking? Should the town centre be offering an increased leisure offer?


TC2 Town centre boundary

Is the current town centre boundary the right one? If it is not correct what should the boundary be and why?


TC3 Future role of Cannon Park

What should the future role of Cannon Park be? What uses would be suitable for this location and why?


TC4 Future Role of Linthorpe Road

What should be the future role of Linthorpe Road? What uses would be suitable for this location and why? How can Linthorpe Road continue to support the offer of the town centre?


TC5 Role of Middlehaven

How can the Local Plan enable the continued success of Middehaven? What should the focus of this area be going forward? In there a role for housing development at Middlehaven?


TC6 Role of Albert Road/Railway station

What should the future role of this area be?

What uses are suitable and why? How can the Local Plan enable the future development of this area?


TC7 Role of the University

How can the Local Plan enable the continued success of the University?


TC8 District, local and neighbourhood centres

How can the Local Plan support a network of vital and viable district, local and neighbourhood centres?


Infrastructure delivery

I1: Road infrastructure

What new road infrastructure should be provided to facilitate development? What are the implications of not delivering the necessary infrastructure upon meeting growth aspirations? Are there any key pinch-points that need to be addressed?


I2: Tees crossing

What impact would the provision of a second Tees crossing have upon Middlesbrough? Should the lack of the crossing restrict how much development can happen in Middlesbrough?



I3: Education

What are the education requirements arising out of any new developments?

How should these best be addressed, for example new schools, or extending existing ones? How can we use development to help support improving education attainment levels? How can we use education provision to help deliver successful place making?


I4: Middlesbrough railway station

What impacts will improved services have upon the town in terms of population and economic growth? How can we best utilise the railway station as a key gateway into the town? How can the Plan support the aspirations for the railway station?


I5: Connectivity

How can new developments best be integrated with existing communities?


I6: Infrastructure delivery

How should the delivery of infrastructure be linked to new development? How can we ensure that development is provided in a timely manner? How can we ensure that infrastructure is affordable and that it is funded adequately?


Green Infrastructure


G1: Green infrastructure and economic growth. How can green infrastructure be used to support

economic growth?


G2: Development and green infrastructure

How can new development improve access to open space and recreation?

How should green infrastructure be incorporated into new developments?

How can green infrastructure be used to create quality places?


G3: Delivery of green infrastructure

How should green infrastructure be delivered and maintained? What are the funding sources available to deliver quality infrastructure? And how can the Local Plan support its delivery?


G4: Enhancing open spaces

How can new development improve access to open space and recreation, and enhance the quality of available open space?


G5: Green Heart

What should the future role of the land between Acklam and Marton Roads, Ladgate Lane and Saltersgill/Tollesby be? What uses or mix of uses are appropriate? Is there potential for some development to realise its value as a recreational asset?


G6: Healthy living

How can green infrastructure be used to support healthy lifestyles and help improve people’s health?

What opportunities are there to create an extensive network of green routes comprising footpaths,

cycleways and linking Middlesbrough’s various communities?


G7: Playing pitches

Does Middlesbrough have enough playing pitches to meet its needs? Are they of the right quality? How can we improve the quality of pitches available?

Where and how should be pitches be provided e.g. in accessible hubs, or dispersed throughout the



Historic Environment


HE1: Historic environment strategy

What does a positive strategy look like? How can the Local Plan create a positive strategy for the historic environment?


HE2 : Protecting historic assets

What role can the Local Plan play in protecting and enhancing Middlesbrough’s historic assets? How

can we protect these historic asset in the future? Are there certain forms of development which should be limited or are inappropriate near to historic assets?


HE3 : Historic environment and economic growth

What should the role of the historic environment be in supporting and facilitating economic growth? How can we use economic growth to aid the preservation and conservation of our historic assets?


HE4: Historic environment and regeneration

What role can the historic environment play in regeneration?

Are there any opportunities for heritage–led regeneration in Middlesbrough?


The Duty to Cooperate

The duty to cooperate is a legal requirement of the Localism Act (2011). This requires Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and other prescribed bodies to co-operate on strategic matters to maximise effectiveness in preparing Local Plans.

The duty to cooperate applies to LPAs, National Park authorities, County Councils and other public



DC1: Duty to Cooperate

What are the duty to cooperate issues that should be considered by the Local Plan? How should they be addressed?



The Avenue of Trees: A December Walk by Janis McBride


I went for a walk down the Avenue of Trees today. I entered through the old iron gates leading through from Acklam road and almost immediately left the traffic and relentless noise of the town behind. I have a favourite path. Usually I walk along the grass next to where the school used to be (now demolished). The remaining fence is covered with shrubs and in the summer, (before spraying) a variety of climbing plants abide there. The woodland with its variety of trees and wildflowers is on the other side of the grass. There is much hawthorn at this end, ablaze with white and pink flowers in the summer, berries at this time of year. I don’t stick to the grassed area, but cut in and out along the small tracks. Tracks maintained by the many walkers who use this area, but made by the tread of generations of people before as they too have criss- crossed their way between grass and woodland. There’s a particular oak tree that I like to see and this takes me along the woodland track into an area that opens out, which, if the sun is favourable, is illuminated with a warm, golden light. If the sky is blue, the conifers are well worth a look too. Seen silhouetted against a bright sky they give me a feeling of being somewhere Mediterranean. I know this path well, but today I chose a different route and walked along the woodland path at the other side.ackhallcw5

The colourful display of autumn had passed and yet the fallen leaves held their beauty in shades of brown and the glisten of water. There had been some rain earlier and it struck me how even on a gloomy December day like this, the Avenue of Trees was, as always, stunningly beautiful. At first it was difficult to find the track as so many leaves had fallen, but soon I did and wound my way through the trees, past the iron sculptures made by the schoolchildren years ago and past the fallen branches, their strong sculptural shapes adding drama to the scene. The rich green of moss clung to the tree roots and reminded me that there was still colour here. On looking at the ground more closely I could see the last remaining traces of the reds, greens and golds that had been there in abundance such a short time ago. There wasn’t much wildlife to be seen on this damp winter’s day, but it was there, hiding in the undergrowth, or high in the canopy, or sleeping the winter away, waiting for warmer times. No blackbird’s song to follow me today. So different from the summertime when the whole wood is alive with birdsong. At the end of the path I went onto the central grass and walked past the rows of lime trees, their branches easy to touch, hanging low, almost to the ground, the sweet scent of their tiny flowers only a memory now, replaced by the invigorating earthy scents of winter… and it occurred to me;

On any day, in any weather, in any season, a walk down the Avenue of Trees is a welcome connection with the natural world. It is peaceful and calming and full of ‘glad to be alive’. People need places like this.

Middlesbrough needs places like this.

The (NEW) Local Plan Timescale

In 2014, Middlesbrough Council adopted a so-called 15 year Local Plan. The Local plan sets out local planning policies and identifies how land is used, determining what will be built where.
In 2018 it is to be replaced by a new Local Plan which means that the land identified as potential sites for housing development is up for review.
There will also be an Borough-wide housing land availability assessment made towards the end of the year (the Strategic Land Availability Assessment or SHLAA) when the Council will request any interested landowners to offer their land for potential housing development. The local plan issues paper will be open for public consultation from the 5th December 2016 to the 31st January 2017.
It is important that the public are consulted effectively and able to have a voice. People have genuine concerns which they will have the opportunity to raise. This is a great opportunity for Middlesbrough residents to be able to get involved in the planning process, not just within our own communities but as a wider Middlesbrough Community.
Programme for Review (as proposed in May 2016)
Stage Date
Issues and Options document July 2016
Preferred Options document February 2017
Publication document September 2017
Submission to Inspector January 2018
Public Examination by Inspector April 2018
Adoption of Local Plan September 2018

Middlesbrough Local List

The Local List identifies 91 buildings, structures, parks, gardens and open spaces in

Middlesbrough which are thought to be of local architectural and/or historic interest. The Local

List does not include nationally important buildings, of which there are 126 on the statutory list in



Britannia Testing House,

Riverside Park

Architect: unknown

Date: 1926


The Former Ship Inn Public House

Stockton Street

Architect: unknown

Date: c. early 19th Century


Locomotive Shed and Gate Piers

(Bolckow and Vaughan’s Ironworks)

Vulcan Street

Architect: unknown

Date: c. 1880


Storrow’s Building, Dock Street

Architect: unknown

Date: 1860


Middlesbrough Dock, Middlehaven

Architect: Cubitt, W.

Date: 1842


Bridge Inn Public House,

Bridge Street East

Architect: unknown

Date: 1858


Lord Byron Public House, Bridge Street


Architect: unknown

Date: 1864


Warehouse, School Croft

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1900


Navigation Inn, Cargo Fleet Lane

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1880


Isaac Wilson Public House

(former County Court)

65 Wilson Street

Architect: Hawkes

Date: 1901


Wellington Hotel and 9 Albert Road

Architect: R. Moore

Date: Wellington Hotel (1891)

Number 9 Albert Road (1900)


13-25 Albert Road

Architect: unknown

(Kitching Building: Kitching & Archibald)

Date: c.1900 (Kitching Building: 1936)


Barracuda (Former National

Westminster Bank), 42 Albert Road

Architect: unknown

Date: 1938


The Princess Alice Public House and

adjoining terrace,

65-69 Newport Road

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1866


Debenhams, 1 Newport Road

Architect: W.G. Roberts (1862) &

A. Forrester (1910)


Miss Selfridge, 64-66 Linthorpe Road

(former jewellers)

Architect: Lofthouse & Son

Date: 1898


William Hill, 17 Corporation Road

Architect: unknown

Date: c. 1890


Dr. Browns Public House,

135 Corporation Road

Architect: J. W. Bottomly

Date: 1862


House of Fraser, 37 Linthorpe Road

Architect: W. & T.P. Milburn

Date: 1957


Multi Media Centre, La Pharmacie and

Medicine Bar,

72-80 Corporation Road

Architect: R. Moore

Date: 1898


St Mary’s Centre, 82-90 Corporation Road

Architect: Duncan & Lofthouse

Date: 1881, 1988


The Green Tree Public House, Gilkes


Architect: unknown

Date: late 19th Century


Peel Engravers,and adjoining terrace,

Gilkes Street

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1870


Methodist Church and Sunday School,

126-132 Linthorpe Road

Architect: R. Lofthouse

Date: 1892 & 1910


The Crown Public House

51-53 Borough Road

Architect: J. Forbes

Date: 1923


Former Southbrooke Girls School,

154 Borough Road

Architect: J.R. Garthwaite

Date: 1882


King Edwards Square, University

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1890


Gazette Offices, Borough Road

Architect: unknown

Date: 1938


Psyche, 175-187 Linthorpe Road

Architect: unknown

Date: 1950s


TS One Public House,

200 Linthorpe Road

Architect: Kitching & Archibald

Date: 1926


Christadelphian Hall, Southfield Road

Architect: R. Kitching

Date: 1903


The Roseberry Public House,

Acklam Road

Architect: R.R. Kitching & Co.



Whinney Banks School, Acklam Road

Architect: P.B. Haswell

(completed by F. Mellor)

Date: 1937-1938


St Francis Roman Catholic Church,

Acklam Road

Architect: F. Spink



Samuelson’s Working Men’s Club,

Parliament Road

Architect: W.E. Mills

Date: 1904


The Co-operative Building,

251-255 Linthorpe Road

Architect: unknown

Date: 1941


St Aidan’s Church, Clifton Street

Architect: L.J. Moore

(son of Temple Moore)

Date: 1940


University Sports Centre,

University of Teesside, Laura Street

Architect: Danby & Simpson

Date: 1908


 Mosque and Community Centre,

133a Waterloo Road

Architect: W. Duncan

Date: 1900


34 Park Road North

Architect: J. Taylor



214 –216 Marton Road

Architect: W.M. Halton



Derwent Street Community Centre, North


Architect: Alexander & Henman (Stockton)

Date: 1875


Linthorpe Cemetery

Architect: unknown

Date: 1869


Linthorpe Community Primary School

Architect: W.H. Blessley

Date: 1874


51 Cambridge Road

Date: c.1910

Architect: unknown


 5-19 Claude Avenue

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1899-1910


110 The Avenue, Linthorpe

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1860


East Lodge, Albert Park

Architect: A. Adams

Date: 1867


353-359 Linthorpe Road (opposite Dorman


Architect: unknown

Date: c.1890


United Reform Church, Linthorpe Road

Architect: Archibald & Kitching



Albert Park Public House,

406 Linthorpe Road

Architect: W.H. Blessley

Date: c.1868


Cleveland Hotel, 50 Poplar Terrace,

Linthorpe Road

Architect: R.H. Clark

Date: (1857) remodelled in the 1930s


Kirby College, Roman Road

Architect: A. Forester

Date: 1911


The Linthorpe Hotel, The Crescent

Architect: unknown

Date: unknown


Holmwood, Orchard Road

Architect: Lofthouse

Date: c.1882-1895


Redlands Conservative Club,

Orchard Road, Linthorpe

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1870


Roseberry, 274 Marton Road & Park View,

276 Marton Road

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1865


St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church,

Marton Road

Architect: T. Crawford

Date: 1934


Holy Name of Mary RC Church,

The Avenue, Linthorpe

Architect: T. Crawford

Date: 1938

Former Sacred Heart Convalescence Home

and Presbytery, adjacent to Holy Name of

Mary Church , The Avenue, Linthorpe

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1900 (Presbytery) c.1880

(Convalescence Home)


Blue Bell Hotel, Acklam Road

Architect: unknown

Date: 1939


Slip Inn Bridge, Ladgate Lane

Architect: N/A

Date: circa early 18th Century


St Mary’s Church, Church Lane,

Architect: unknown

Date: 1874


Danby House and Blacksmith’s

Forge, 321 Acklam Road

Architect: Unknown -built by the

Acklam Hall Estate

Date: 1878 (forge possibly earlier )


West Lodge, Acklam Road

Architect: Walter Brierley (TBC)

Date: 1912


Newham Bridge

Architect: unknown

Date: 18th Century


South Lodge, Acklam Road

Architect: Walter Brierley (TBC)

Date: 1912


88-90 The Grove

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1910


East Lodge, 76 The Grove

Architect: Gustav Martens and John Ross

Date: c.1860


83-85 The Grove

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1907


Stewart Park

Architect: unknown

Date: Stewart Park opened 1923, but many

park features date from mid-19th Century

and earlier.


West Lodge (former Marton Hall),

Stokesley Road

Architect: Gustav Martens and John Ross

Date: c.1860


Drinking Fountain, Stokesley Road

Architect: unknown

Date: 1879


The Fountain Inn, Ormesby High Street

Architect: David H White



Eastleigh and Westleigh,

Ormesby High Street

Architect: William Searle Hicks

(Johnson and Hicks: Newcastle)

Date: 1876


Methodist Chapel and adjoining smithy,

Meldyke Lane, Stainton

Architect: unknown

Date: 1840


Stainton School, 6-8 Meldyke Lane

Architect: unknown

Date: 1876


14 Hemlington Road

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1800


1 Thornton Road, and 2-8 Maltby Road

Architect: unknown

Date: c. 1930


Newham Grange Farm (Newham Grange

Country Park)

Architect: unknown (vernacular)

Date: 1786/1847


Newham Hall Farm

Architect: unknown

Date: c.mid 19th Century


Lodges: 84 Gunnergate Lane and 21

Tollesby Lane

Architect: unknown

Date: 1857


14-16 Rookwood Road, Nunthorpe

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1920


Nunthorpe Station

Architect: unknown

Date: 1853


123 Guisborough Road, Nunthorpe

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1910


Red Cottage, Guisborough Road

Architect: 1910 (unknown) 1929 (Stephen H


Date: c.1910


Tudor Court, Church Lane

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1930


The Old School, Church Lane, Nunthorpe

Architect: unknown

Date: 1903


The Old Smithy, West Side

Architect: unknown

Date: c.1880


Hall Farm, Nunthorpe Village

Architect: unknown

Date: c.mid-19th Century

For more detailed information view on the Middlesbrough Council Website  Middlesbrough Local List

The Church of St Columba and Cannon Street by Ron Meek

church-of-st-columba1Father Burn opened a small mission church in Alfred Street in 1889 and called it St Laurence. This was changed in in 1891 to St Columba. In 1893 it was moved to the vacated Gospel Hall in Boundary Road. It was accepted as a parish church in 1895. In 1896 it was decided to build a new church and in 1897 a site adjoining the existing church was purchased for £1700.

A million penny fund (£4167.00 in today’s money) was launched in September 1900. Sister Katharine who had herself collected £200.00 handed over the last 100 pennies the day before the church was consecrated. The foundation stone was laid on 28th May 1901 and the church was consecrated on 19th July 1902.

The church has a composite brick and stone tower which is built on a piece of ground separate from the main fabric of the church but joined casually at one corner. The church is built from bricks of a mottled colour which time appears incapable of toning down. The architect, Temple Moore, seems to have taken the largest measurement of an irregular site for the nave and then enclosed all the other odd bits by walls. The position of these walls being restricted by the boundaries of the site. The structure is therefore hexagonal in form and the effect is astounding and impressive. The tower is 72 feet high and the church could seat 600 people.

An aerial view of the church creates the view of a dove in flight. Was this intentional or co-incidental. Look at the facts.

St. Columba or Colum Cille in Gaelic is translated into English as church dove.

St Columba is buried in the Abbey he created on the Scottish island of Iona and doves are always found in the area around the Abbey.

Paintings and statues of St Columba often depict doves. Indeed, the statue in the church has a dove at his feet.

father-hooperFather Raymond Hooper arrived at St Columba’s in 1940 when Cannon Street had the reputation of being one of the most notorious areas of Middlesbrough. A small country parish was not for him. This was a challenge he could not turn down and he was soon walking through the streets of small terrace houses being friendly to all he met. He was particularly fond of the children of the area and always regarded St Columba’s as a children’s church.

He was joined in his ministry by Sister Catherine of the Holy Rood convent, a most remarkable woman loved by all who met her, and together they made a formidable dynamic duo. There were dances in the church hall every Friday night and Summer outings were arranged every year. Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownie groups were formed and met in the church hall every week.

A unique event started in 1952 when all the children of the church were allowed to vote for a Queen, who was then crowned by Father Hooper with a service and then a procession through the local streets. This continued until 1974 as by this time all the houses and streets were demolished and the congregation of the church was falling rapidly. Photographs of all the events are on display in the church

It was in 1974 when Father Hooper was brutally attacked in his own home and died shortly after from his injuries. He was a very generous man and often opened his home to the needy of the parish. He is fondly remembered by many of the people of the Cannon Street area and one cannot speak of St Columba’s without remembering Father Hooper and Sister Catherine who was at his right hand for many years.

Following Father Hooper’s death the area was changing rapidly. The A66 road was built through the town and condemned many of the houses and fine buildings. The church hall was demolished to make way for it. This was replaced by a new hall within the body of the church constructed of wood and glass. Although it does complement the church, the capacity of the church and number of seats is greatly reduced. It is however normally adequate for the needs of the congregation.

Father Stephen Cooper with his family arrived in 1994 and he continues to minister to the needs of the people. It is a pleasure to have him as our priest. The congregation mainly consists of people from outside the area who have been there for many years as few people  actually live in the parish any more. The church is a magnificent building and continues to look as good as ever and long may it do so.


The Value of Community demonstrated at Discover Middlesbrough

A sense of community and belonging is something that cannot be measured in monetary terms, it cannot be quantified by consultants and accountants through surveys and spreadsheets. However, it does have a great value, regardless of land and property prices.

Hands on Middlesbrough have hosted two successful events this month as part of the Discover Middlesbrough Festival which demonstrate the value of community:

cseventOn Saturday 22nd October, Hands on Middlesbrough volunteers in partnership with Ageing Better, Middlesbrough hosted Cannon Street Revisited at St Columba’s Church.

Before the event, there was a short service given by Father Stephen Cooper. In attendance were a dedicated congregation, who despite no longer living in the area (one family travel from Skelton), they still feel connected to “Cannon Street” and St Columba’s Church.

More than 50 years since Cannon Street was demolished, the strength of feeling from people who lived, worked and grew up there is something very special. It was one of the most successful events of the Discover Middlesbrough festival, with over 300 people turning out to share their memories and photographs of Cannon Street. The event featured a community exhibition, with images taken from the popular Facebook page Cannon Street Revisited and there were talks and screenings throughout the day. Photographs were scanned by volunteers from Hands on Middlesbrough which will form part of a digital archive, recording the residents of Cannon Street going back to the 1911 census which will be used for reminiscence therapy, family history and research.


The Cannon Street area was built between 1865 and 1882. Despite being built to accommodate workers from the Ironmasters’ District, the houses became family homes and a tight-knit community developed. The success of this community is obvious because although this part of town was demolished in the late 60s and early 70s due to poor living conditions, people still feel a sense of loss, not for the houses but for the community itself and a way of life. Cannon Street was a poor but hard-working community, well known for having over 60 independent businesses on one street. To be from Cannon Street meant to live or work on the street itself, one of the streets off it, to be connected to the community through family members or attending the churches and schools. They worked together, supported each other and built the foundations of a strong and successful community, of which they were proud to belong. Women took a pride in their neighbourhood, they scrubbed the doorsteps and pavements (even though it was not their responsibility) and were a support network for families who struggled with the pressures of poverty and everyday life. It was a place where the men worked hard physical jobs for very little, but many had a sense of pride in the town they helped to build. That pride is still there now and has passed to their families.


It was moving to see North East Film Archive and BBC North East film footage of an interview with Father Hooper projected onto the wall of the church where he was Priest for 35 years. He campaigned tirelessly for the council to rebuild the houses and not split up a tight-knit community. There was something very special about seeing him speak so passionately in front of some of the people he stood up for all those years ago. Father Hooper spoke about the “price of progress” and as a well respected man, he was the voice for others. He spoke eloquently about the value of community and why it’s value should not be underestimated when planning the town.

Our second event, ran by the Friends of Nature’s World in association with Middlesbrough Environment City, demonstrated the value of community interacting with wild, green space. Over 150 people came to our apple picking event at the Organic Heritage Orchard. The event was a diverse representation of the Middlesbrough community doing something free and simple with their families; picking apples which can then be made into something to eat and shared with family and neighbours.

ap11People young and old got together and had fun. There were no bells and whistles, it was about being with nature on our doorstep (not everyone has access to a car to drive to the countryside) and the former Nature’s World site being used as a resource for families. Nature’s World was once described as “The North of England’s pioneering Eco-experience” – with an average of over 29,000 visitors a year.

The 26 acre site contained over 100 different interactive features and exhibits focusing issues such energy generation, recycling and re-using waste, organic gardening, green transport, bio-diversity and habitat conservation. Since the closure of the site most of the formal gardens, water bodies and woodland spaces have reverted back to nature.ap45

Friends of Natures World are a dedicated group of volunteers who started working onsite in October 2014, and with the cooperation and assistance of Middlesbrough Council, aim to restore the features and maintain them for as long as they have permission to do so. Friends of Nature’s World aim to demonstrate that as a wild, green space it is as a valuable resource to residents of Middlesbrough. They run a number of community events each year to give people the opportunity be around nature and get actively involved in a range of activities.

The two events which ran in October, are prime examples of the value of community. It is something that cannot be measured in monetary terms but is felt by people who invest emotionally in where they live. That emotional investment can then act as a catalyst for people to get involved with a range of activities which benefit the local community.

Hands on Middlesbrough have a number of volunteers working on heritage projects, but are always in need of more.

If you enjoy working outside, Friends of Nature’s World would welcome you with open arms!

To get involved in either group (or both) please visit the “Contact us” page.

Volunteer with HOM or FONW


Tees Valley Community Foundation has teamed up with Hands On Middlesbrough to provide funding for the Friends of Nature's World, in Acklam, Middlesbrough, to buy gardening tools to help in their conservation work at the site. Pictured, seated left, is Friends of Nature's World Chair, Scarlet Pink along with some of the project volunteers.

Photograph of Friends of Nature’s World, Courtesy of Tees Valley Community Foundation


Hands on Middlesbrough are always looking for volunteers to help on a variety of worthwhile community projects to protect, support and promote heritage and green space in Middlesbrough.

Friends of Nature’s World

If you would like to help Friends of Natures World restore the gardens and water features at (the formerly known as) Nature’s World site please register your interest with Middlesbrough Council which can be done online:


If you are a joiner with time on your hands, Friends of Nature’s World would like to recruit you to mend some of the fences too!

We have a mixed group of skills and abilities, some specialise in getting rid of brambles others are better with a paintbrush. We also have “experts” onsite who can share their knowledge of plants with us and occasionally we host free workshops for our volunteers so we can all improve our skills. 

If that doesn’t persuade you to join us, we also have a fantastic lady who makes soup for lunch in the winter and cakes in the summer!

Hands on Middlesbrough

For Hands on Middlesbrough Heritage projects we would like to recruit anyone interested in:

  • Local History
  • Archiving
  • Research
  • Middlesbrough’s historic buildings

We are also interested to recruit people who want to help us with:

  • Promotion
  • Community events

To get involved with our heritage projects please email:

 handsonmiddlesbroughfuture@gmail.com or use the “contact us” tab


HOM Response to the Mayor’s Vision 2025


Hands on Middlesbrough welcome the Mayor Budd’s promises to protect our historic buildings, to continue to hold One Planet Town Status and to promote Middlesbrough as a dementia friendly town.

However, the Mayor’s vision despite looking to the future, is in some respects short-sighted. It does not address how these promises will be actioned and by what process they will be carried out.

Hands on Middlesbrough is primarily concerned with the protection of Heritage and green spaces and we would like to request that the Mayor’s promises are at the heart of decision making within all council departments. This is a great opportunity for Middlesbrough council to set a good example now, by actively demonstrating a fair and green agenda, respect for our historic environment and respect for residents and the contribution they make to society.

Currently, a lot of energy is put into attracting people into Middlesbrough, and not enough to ensure that people with a variety of skills and abilities want to stay in the area.

A Fairer Society –A fair society is a society which treats people equally without favouritism or discrimination. In order for this to be carried out successfully, there needs to be:

  • A better understanding of the positive contribution that people make to the town in a variety of ways (e.g. volunteers) which should be encouraged and celebrated
  • Recognition that people invest financially and emotionally in their town, and both are of value
  • An understanding that “emotional responses” do not exist outside of rational thought but are intrinsically what connect people to their living environment and their community
  • A commitment from the council to accept that the developer isn’t always right and the business executive’s opinion is no more valuable than that of a shop assistant or a single mother
  • Fairness demonstrated by the council, in a variety of ways and adopted by all council departments as a core principle
  • A commitment to acknowledging, valuing and acting upon the concerns of local communities as part of a new effective and inclusive consultation process

Treating people fairly means showing them respect, being open and transparent and ensuring that information is easily accessible to all members of society. A good way to demonstrate fairness and respect is by doing so within the council chamber. As council meetings are now filmed, it can sometimes highlight to the general public a lack of respect for each other, hostility and a confrontational approach from some, to those with differing opinions. Fairness is something that should be embraced by all our representatives who have been elected to sit in the council chamber. They should speak to each other with respect, equally without favouritism or discrimination. This would be welcomed by the majority of the Middlesbrough population who are put off by the current in-fighting and political one-upmanship which by its very nature excludes members of the community. Exclusion leads to apathy, feelings of powerlessness and frustration by members of the community who often feel our representatives are not representing us.

Some ways in which the current processes inadvertently exclude people:

  • An ineffective community consultation process
  • Use of jargon throughout council departments (e.g. the planning department)
  • A confusing and cumbersome volunteer process
  • A hard to navigate council website
  • Failure to embrace social media as a means of communication
  • Dismissing “emotional” responses as “reactive” or “oppositional”
  • Political agendas effecting decision making
  • Exclusion of the general public and press to some council meetings
  • Dumbing down of important local key issues by simplistic press releases, soundbites and obvious publicity stunts

Hands on Middlesbrough believe that people should be encouraged to get involved in the council consultation process on a number of key issues, including the development and regeneration of the town and encouraged to contribute in positive ways to their living environment and community. By doing so, people will feel more connected to their surroundings and take responsibility for looking after their town, as they had a part in its development.

The volunteer process

The Council’s growing dependence on volunteers in the Borough across a host of disciplines will expand considerably by 2025. The Council should refine and perfect the use and support of volunteers starting now.

As Hands on Middlesbrough and Friends of Nature’s World volunteers, the majority of us have found the council volunteering process difficult and confusing. Many of us didn’t even receive a confirmation email when we registered and only a few were asked to provide documents for identification. We were then left to get on with “volunteering”, without knowing where to go for support, guidance or training. We were not given any guidance whatsoever, as to what we could or couldn’t do regarding maintenance onsite. On occasion, we heard from other volunteer groups that we may require a certificate to carry out certain tasks, but how we could access training still remains a mystery. Despite asking various council officers on a number of occasions, no-one seems to know the answer. Two years after our initial registration, we received a volunteer handbook and have yet to discover who is in charge of volunteers and who follows up on the application forms filled in online for new volunteers. The volunteer handbook is very basic and I would even go as far as saying a waste of paper.

Making the volunteer process easier and giving clear guidance, will help encourage people to take pride and responsibility for their living environment. It will encourage people young and old to work together, giving people the skills required to find work, contribute to their local community and feel a sense of achievement. Working as a volunteer has many benefits to health and wellbeing (in particular working outside).

Friends groups and community groups should be given support from the council, as we need these groups to ensure the town will thrive following further cuts to the council budget in the not too distant future.

Regenerating Priority Neighbourhoods

To regenerate priority neighbourhoods, improve the physical environment and support those that live within them to succeed means listening to what people actually want in their neighbourhood and not assuming that the council knows best.

For example, a work of art commissioned to enhance a dilapidated street may be a good idea, but people from the neighbourhood should always be consulted, regardless of whether it is in Gresham or Nunthorpe, and their views taken into consideration. Again it is about respect for people and the connection they have to their living environment and it is also about fairness. People should be encouraged to contribute to how they want their neighbourhood to develop and become part of the process. Support for neighbourhood plans should be readily available and there should be a move now towards community led development which will create a happier and fairer society by 2025 and help build stronger communities.

It is our view that community involvement is essential for a Fairer Society, and consultation on a range of issues, not as part of a tick box exercise but which demonstrate that the advice and comments of the community are going to be acted upon in some way. A fairer society means less jargon, information accessible to all and commitment encouragement to get involved with the town from the grassroots up.

A fairer society is based on reciprocal respect between council and individual and a desire to work together to benefit us all.

A Safer Middlesbrough

A dementia friendly town

As human beings we all need contact and connection with the outdoors, with fresh air and nature in all its various forms. A raft of evidence tells us what we intuitively know to be true: that activity and simply getting outdoors is good for us; and people with dementia are no different. The concept of a dementia friendly town is welcomed by our group, particularly if it acknowledges the importance of green space and our historic environment. It is also important that people are able to share their memories of the past with others in a safe and comfortable environment which will help tackle loneliness and isolation. To be a dementia friendly town is not just about car parking spaces and dementia friendly signs in the town centre, but should strive to be much more than that. It should recognise the emotional attachment that people have to their living environment, historic environment and green spaces. As the memory fades, these places of comfort are all the more important. It is these things which contribute to people feeling safe, secure and at home in their town and not only creates a dementia friendly town, but by default also helps create a friendly town.


Continuing to hold One Planet Living status    

Hands on Middlesbrough welcome the principles set out in One Planet Living and as a group we have noticed positive changes in our living environment and fully support schemes like the alley scheme and other initiatives ran by Middlesbrough Environment City and supported by Middlesbrough Council. However, by saying the council will continue to hold One Planet Living status does not ensure a meaningful commitment to those principles. Principles are often promoted but not adopted within council departments. For example, how does the increase in housing development on green space fit in with the one planet principle to protect green spaces and keep an eye on local planning applications? One Planet Living highlights the importance of natural habitats and wildlife; how does authorising the felling of hundreds of mature trees during bird nesting season fit in with these principles? How are tree “protection” orders, birds on amber and red conservation lists and bat roosting areas so easily overlooked to make way for a “sustainable development”. What is a sustainable development anyway, and how can it override anything with so called “protection”? Sustainable is used far too often as a way of justifying things that are in fact not sustainable. Saying you are going to give local people jobs, does not mean carting in a bus load from Newcastle. How is that sustainable? Unless the principles of One Planet Living are adopted throughout Middlesbrough council, then it is nothing but publicity without a genuine desire to change things. One planet living describes one of the most important expressions is found in preserving, reviving and promoting past local food traditions and culture into the future and celebrating together as a community. The preservation of culture and heritage is essential to how we connect to the place we live. Preserving the past is not resistant to change for the future, but should be a priority to maintain as it forms part of our identity as a town and our identity as residents.

A Stronger Middlesbrough

Protecting our historic buildings

Hands on Middlesbrough would like to thank Mayor Budd for publicly acknowledging the importance of protecting our historic buildings. While we do have some fantastic new buildings emerging in the town, which will no doubt become the heritage of the future, for the time being it is our historic buildings which are becoming at risk due to the cost of maintaining them and the problems finding alternative uses for such impressive and often large Victorian buildings. It is not just our Victorian heritage that needs protecting, but our cultural heritage and historic environment.

Planning applications are continually approved for a variety of historic sites, without first being screened by an archaeologist, the conservation officer works part-time and no one seems to know who our Heritage Champion is or what their role actually involves. Hopefully, these concerns will be addressed in the near future, as once heritage is gone it is gone, and we lose the opportunity to connect to our town’s past.

It is also important that records of findings on sites of historic significance are accessible to the public free of charge.

It should be a priority within the council to look for new uses for our historic buildings and it is also important that our council hold accountable those who do not look after a Grade Listed building.

For example, Acklam Hall sadly fell into “extreme disrepair” and ending up on the Heritage at Risk register. While there is no specific duty on property owners to maintain their buildings in a good state of repair (although it is clearly in their interests to do so) the Local Planning Authority does have powers to take action if it considered that a historic building has deteriorated to the extent that its future preservation may be at risk.

The Local Planning authority has the following powers:

  • Under section 54 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the Local Planning Authority may serve a notice requesting that the owner to undertake those works considered necessarily for the preservation of the property. If the owner fails to carry these works, the authority has permission to execute the works and to recover the cost of these works from the owner(s).


  • Under section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the Local Authority may serve a repairs notice on the owner. This notice will specify the works which the Authority considers reasonably necessary for the proper preservation of the building. This is not restricted to urgent works.


  • If the work hasn’t taken place two months after the repairs notice has been served, the authority can start compulsory purchase order proceedings (under This is under Section 47 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990).

Middlesbrough Council has a responsibility and a duty of care to protect Listed Heritage and hold accountable those who put heritage at risk.

Recently, an article 4 was placed on The Crown, which apparently offered some protection against demolition. I hope the executive is planning on distributing more of these protection orders between now and 2025, as we have a number of buildings that are worthy of them. It is also a way of showing commitment to this principle to protect our historic buildings and gives some relevance to the Local List and the term “conservation area”.

Finally, as a group we would like to repeat our request for Middlesbrough council to set up a diverse and enthusiastic advisory board of individuals to be consulted directly on a range of issues. We have been told previously that the council does not have sufficient funds to action this, but I live in hope that things may change between now and 2025.

Hands on Middlesbrough & Ageing Better, Middlesbrough: Cannon Street Revisited Project

ageing-better-middlesbrough handsonlogo

As part of the Discover Middlesbrough Festival, Hands on Middlesbrough in partnership with Ageing Better Middlesbrough are hosting “Cannon Street Revisited” on Saturday 22nd October at St Columba’s Church at 10.30am-4.30pm.

In May, “Cannon Street Revisited” had over 300 visitors at the Dorman Museum, and old friends and family were reunited.

The event at St Columba’s Church will run throughout the day and will include: history talks, screenings and recently digitised interviews filmed during the cannon street demolition (courtesy of North East Film Archive & BBC North East). There will also be a community exhibition with photographs taken from the Cannon Street Revisited Facebook page.

This project has been set up to create a free digital archive documenting Cannon Street residents going back to the 1911 census. This has been created with the help of ST Media and local historians Alison Brown & Ian Stubbs. The aim is for the archive to be used in schools, for family history, historical research, reminiscence therapy and to bring members of the community back together.

Ageing Better Middlesbrough, a Big Lottery Funded programme working to reduce loneliness and social isolation in the town, will also be offering the opportunity for people to learn how to share photos online, set up Facebook pages, and access the digital archive and will be hosting a number of community workshops in the coming months.

“Cannon Street Revisited isn’t just a one-off event and we hope to ensure the streets and their residents are not consigned to a historical footnote and eventually forgotten. We would be happy to enlist help from anyone who would like to share information, be interviewed or get involved in research”.

We would like for people to contact us if they have any photographs they would like us to scan or any memories they would like to share.

Email: cannonstreetrevisited@gmail.com



facebook/cannon street revisited