William Henry Thomas (founder of the Middlesbrough District and Betterment and Open Spaces Association) began his career as a manager stationer in 1881 and by 1911 he was the Managing Director of Jordison and Co, whose building adjoined what is now The House of Blah Blah and Teesside Archives.
William Henry Thomas specialised in archaeology, botany and philosophy and was also linked with recruitment during the First World War. “A Lover of the Good, the True & The beautiful” his memorial plaque and monument was revealed on 2nd October 1934 at a public celebration. The Mayor attended and it was said that the rest garden was for the purpose of “beautifying the brick pond on the Whinney Banks side of Acklam-road.” The original brochure from the opening contains a covenant between the Corporation of Middlesbrough and the donors which states that the monument shall not be moved or obstructed in any way and that “the Corporation shall at all times keep the said open space as a garden and shrubbery.”
On 26th January 2015, it was decided by Middlesbrough Borough Council Executive Sub-Committee for Property that the rest garden on Acklam Road was to be sold off for commercial development. A supermarket chain have expressed interest in the site, but no formal planning application has been made.
The minutes from the meeting show that the sale of the land “will result in the disposal of surplus property in return for the capital receipt to the Council and assist in the regeneration and enhancement of the local area”.
Taken from the minutes from the meeting on the 26th January:
1. That the sale of the land to the preferred developer at the cost outlined within the report be approved by Executive Sub Committee for Property;
2. That an update on the progress be brought back to a future Executive Sub Committee for Property Panel; and
3. That if the sale of the land did not proceed in accordance with the above recommendation, the subsequent decision on how to proceed with the disposal, in consultation with the Executive Director, Economic Development and Communities be delegated to the Executive Director, Commercial and Corporate Services.
If a planning application is made, the public will have 21 days to object. This can be done through the council website “search & track”.
Hands on Middlesbrough have applied to Historic England to list the William Henry Thomas memorial and it is currently going through an initial assessment.