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Things to do in Middlesbrough, Cleveland

Middlesborough Transporter Bridge © Ady

The large town of Middlesbrough in Teesside sits on the bank of the River Tees. Although it has an estimated population of 139,000, making it quite large by any standard, it is not a city. City status has to be granted by the monarch and was traditionally a town with a cathedral.

The Tees Estuary is about 6 miles downstream from Middlesbrough and the riverside location provides the area with many jobs in the seaport at Teesport. Today it is one of the UK's largest container ports and the area is known for its engineering, steel production and petrochemicals industries.

Middlesbrough probably began as an ancient fort settlement and by 686 St Cuthbert had brought Christianity to the region. Middlesbrough Priory became an important monastery until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century. Viking raiders also settled in the area, leaving evidence in the Scandinavian parish names.

The village of Middlesbrough only really developed in 1829 when the Stockton and Darlington Railway extension allowed coal to be exported from the port.

Shortly afterwards ironstone was discovered and the area rapidly developed iron foundries and mills, becoming known as "Ironopolis". In its heyday Middlesbrough shipped iron and steel all over the world, including engineering the components for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It also had a vibrant shipbuilding industry in the 19th century and early 20th century.


Present Day Middlesbrough

Due in part to the town's late development, it has a neat grid-pattern of streets particularly in the main shopping area and around Corporation Road.

The town has a mixture of architectural styles with some pre-1900 buildings, although many older buildings such as the priory were demolished in the 1930s. The Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) building is an example of its contemporary architecture along with Centre North East which is the tallest building in the North East.

The oldest domestic building, Acklam Hall is on the outskirts of Middlesbrough and dates back to around 1680. It is sadly the town's only Grade I listed building.

The Town Hall was designed by George Hoskins in 1883 and is an imposing Grade II building. Another building worth noting is the Empire Palace of Varieties, a grand theatre designed by Ernest Runtz in 1897. Lillie Langtry was known to have performed in the opening show and it now operates as a nightclub.

The town centre continues to be modernized and has several excellent shopping centres including the Mall Middlesbrough and Dundas Street Shopping.


Things to do in Middlesbrough

The North York Moors National Park is just to the south of Middlesbrough and is popular for hillwalking, hiking, cycling, nature spotting and other outdoor pursuits.

Ormesby Hall is a Palladian mansion built in 1740 and now owned by The National Trust. As well as the fine interior and recreated kitchen there is a model railway. The stables are used by the Mounted Section of the Cleveland Police.

Middlesbrough is the birthplace of explorer Captain James Cook, his life is celebrated in the steel sculpture The Bottle of Notes. To find out more about his life and pioneering travels, visit Captain Cook Birthplace Museum which is a popular local attraction.

Riverside Stadium is where the local football team, the Boros, play their home matches.

The Middlesbrough Ice Festival is celebrated by the town in December with a Christmas fairground, temporary ice rink, food, crafts and music.

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