After his mazy dribble round North East footie, Harry Pearson concluded with thoughts on the arrival of a certain Captain Marvel as the proposed of saviour of Teesside. The dream did indeed turn into reality for a while at least, but caution was issued for visitors to wear hard hats and protective clothing during the period of euphoria. This was later refined to the idea that wearing a hard hat at any time wasn't a bad idea. Middlesbrough often comes with that sort of reputation, although in the main it is a reputation that is largely undeserved. A town where industry was king, Middlesbrough doesn’t usually win awards for scenic vistas. The residents have no widely used specific title, such as those more commonly known further up the coast. They are neither Geordies (Newcastle) nor Mackems (Sunderland) and reference to being added to the same group is not likely to get a warm greeting. The title Smoggies will usually draw a wry smile, although now the steel mills and chemical plants are not dominant the air quality is probably not appreciably worse in many other cities. The tourist trail passes close by, but seldom seems to tempt the masses to call
in. However, beauty as they say is in the eye of the beholder. It is there. You just have to work that bit harder to finder it. If you like your scenery of the industrial type, it is a must visit. North Yorkshire Moors are just a short drive away, if you fail in your mission and greenery are your thing.
We were regular visitors when we kids. The train ride that I occasionally take now was a familiar route. In those days, you were basically heading straight through the works and the stations were alive with workers arriving or leaving for their shift. It was a 24 hours operation. 6 ‘til 2. 2 ‘til 10. Nights. Time waits for no-one and many of the old sights and smells have gone. British Steel Redcar - it might have been Corus or SSI to a younger generation, but it will always be British Steel - is mothballed, Grangetown, the coke ovens at South Bank are derelict and now the train passengers no longer have to take a deep breath of sulphur as they pass. Smiths Dock – the last of the Tees shipbuilders is long since closed. My
Stan Hollis VC Statue
dad took me to see one of the last ships to slide down into the water when I was at school. “This might be the last, son”, I recall him saying as we made our way there. Sadly, the remark was possibly lost on me. As there are no ships anymore, the name of Cargo Fleet has lost significance too. The modern icons of the route are the Riverside Stadium and Middlesbrough College, which lie side by side by the old docks. Regeneration of this area has been slow! I chose to start my wanderings at the far end of town, so we will return here later.
I made my way to the top of Linthorpe Road – Linny Road. It will always be synonymous with the walk to the football ground, except that it is no longer here. The old Ayresome Park was demolished after the escape deemed progress to the Riverside Stadium and save for a few relics removed to the new site, the rest became a victim of the bulldozer or the scrap man. The scene of one of the great World Cup shocks of yesteryear is no more. In 1966, the FIFA idea
of ground improvements for a World Cup involved banging down a few 7 bob seats on the East Stand terrace and adding a bit of a roof. It gave the Teesside public the chance to see North Korea have the platform to humble the mighty Italy and send them home to a greeting of rotten tomatoes. Middlesbrough is well known as featuring in the North Koreans favourite world destinations, closely now followed of course by Sentosa Island, Singapore.The Donald and Kim love in! Alas, I was too young for 1966. My Dad didn’t take me - to the World Cup that is! I made Sentosa on my own a long time I suspect before Donald had it on the radar. Golf course anyone? It would subsequently take me a long time to get to a World Cup, when one had annoyingly been played just up the road. I have mixed feelings about the 1966 East Stand seats.It would be from where I watched my first ever professional football match. It would also be where I landed my attempt in Row 20 in the Evening Gazette Schools Penalty Prize, when given an opportunity for glory in front of 22,000. I crumbled
under the pressure. I remember it like yesterday, even though I suspect very few others present that day could care much about it. "Big" John Hickton buried the penalty Boro got in the match that followed and dispatched it into the top corner of the Tottenham net. Where once stood an Archibald Leitch icon, we now have The Turnstile, The Midfield and The Holgate. The Holgate was the popular terrace frequented by the so called Ayresome Angels. As well as the above names, a nominal number of great players of the past are represented – Maddren Way and Clough Close. I would search in vain for a Hickton Avenue. Brian Clough used to bang goals in for fun at the old Ayresome, but is mainly remembered for his managerial exploits in the East Midlands. However, he is honoured with a statue in nearby Albert Park to match that in the Market Square in Nottingham. The area seemed much quieter than I can recall and I suspect many of the businesses have since struggled with the loss of the football match trade. It is ironic that the old signs still feature on the red brick of the nearby terraces. "No ball
games. By Order. MBC". It looked to me that many of the current locals wouldn't even know what MBC - Middlesbrough Borough Council - stood for, let alone that they were in old football territory. I nipped round towards Roman Road to note that the Yellow Rose had survived 20+ years without the masses. The connoisseurs of history will know that in the 1890s, the town had 2 football clubs. The superbly named Middlesbrough Ironopolis made the heights of Division 2 (which is the Championship in new money) and played on land next to where the Ayresome Park site was located. As well as a club name to savour, the ground was also in a league of its own too. The Paradise Ground! The club was originally formed after a spat with the Boro we know now about whether to turn fully professional. The journey to Paradise was short lived and ended in financial difficulties after the inaugural season in Division 2 in 1894. It would now make a handy quiz question to name all the league grounds Liverpool, Manchester City etc have visited on their travels to Middlesbrough!
I walked back along Kensington Road
towards the park entrance and the Dorman Museum. I noted that Central Park is still thriving on the corner of Linny Road. It used to say ...Central Park. Middlesbrough & Doncaster ...... on the menu, but I note from the website that the branch network is no longer. A lively restaurant, it was once much favoured by Middlesbrough FC players after they had finished an afternoon of snooker across the road at the Inn Off The Park. Training in those days was at the old Hutton Road, followed by a liquid intake at Billy Pauls and a few hours perfecting the art of potting the black ball. A statue of Stan Hollis, Middlesbrough winner of the Victoria Cross, guarded the War Memorial. The Dorman Museum across the way opened in 1904. It was founded by Sir Arthur Dorman of Dorman Long Engineering Company in honour of his son, who had died in the Boer War. I remember visiting on a school trip when it was very much an emporium of stuffed birds and animals, which had been donated by the great and good of Middlesbrough’s Victorian business community. It is free, so I popped in for a while to see
if the exhibits had changed with the times.
The next section of Linthorpe Road is much changed, except for the façade of the Forbes Buildings.The Forbes Building was originally a bakery. The original headquarters of Fly Me To The Moon is a collection of small retail units behind the listed exterior. Fly Me The Moon was named after Bruce Rioch's belief in a certain Tony Mowbray. Solid and reliable. If he was going to the moon, Bruce would take Tony with him. Bruce made the giddy heights of Arsenal. Tony left to conquer Paradise - north of the border version. I was there when he smashed the ball against the Aberdeen crossbar on his debut. The Yorkshire Bank on the corner of Gresham Road has disappeared along with many other branches nationwide. The cashless society has no place it seems for customer service. We are now in Alan Fearnley Records territory or we would have been 20 years ago. The scene of the purchase of many a piece of vinyl in my collection. The Empire, where you were probably wise to avoid on a match day, has now been renamed the Swatters Carr. The area down towards
Southfield Road is totally unrecognizable – a combination of bars to cater for the nearby Teesside University students and some very international shops. The TS One - which describes itself as a continental bar - was serving a MIddlesbrough speciality. A billboard announced a Parmo and a Pint for £6. Teesside Poly has reinvented itself from our youth and now has an international reputation for maths and sciences. It has expanded and swallowed up surrounding areas. The centrepiece of the campus is now a funky building called The Curve, which is a deadringer for the velodrome in Derby. I presume that most of the terraced street houses are now under student occupation. One shop that stands out from the crowd is Pysche – purveyors of fashion to Teesside and a much wider area. The shop started out in Redcar under the name of Sliced Tomato and after various reincarnations, now covers a monster square footage of retail space filled with the finest brands. The shop once beat Selfridges to the title of Fashion Retailer of the Year and came runner up to Harrods in a department store award. The last time I was inside, Stuart Downing was scouring the rails
to see how he could best spend his hard earned. Today, there was no sign of the Teesside A listers and all was quiet. The security guard looked me up and down and sensed I was no longer a regular visitor. The main competition, Triads, is a much smaller scale but equally successful operation on the other side of the road. The average Teessider loves to be seen in the right label.
The corner of Borough Road has changed over the years. In recent times this has been bingo central, but I remember it as the old ABC cinema. A large “For Sale” sign suggests another change is on the horizon. The large guitar shop on Linthorpe Road before the junction shows that there is life after Top of the Pops for a bass guitarist. There have been other changes on Borough Road recently. The iconic sports shop of Jack Hatfield is on the verge of disappearing. The premises have been sold and closure is planned for the end of August. Jack Hatfield has been providing the sporting folk of Teesside with their requirements for most of the last 100 years and it is a shame to
see it go from the high street. It had been in the current location since 1970, which is as long as I can really remember. I got my first pair of football boots there, as well as many other pieces of sporting equipment. Jack Hatfield wasn’t just any old guy who started a sports shop either. He was a Teesside Olympic icon. A black and white photo of him surrounded by his trophies and medals still sits in the window. He won 3 medals for swimming at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, which was probably a bit of a disappointment given he had broken world records in the heats. His ambition to be an early day Mark Spitz was foiled by a spell in the trenches and the cancellation of sport for the next few years after his initial Olympic foray. Jack made it to 2 more Olympics – Antwerp 1920, Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928, but never got back on the podium. Jack was the main man in swimming in the years before Johnny "Tarzan" Weissmuller. He missed out on the Holywood career and settled back into dominating the distribution of sporting goods to the punters of Teesside
with his sons following into the business - a position of domination that would probably last until Bill Gates arrived on the scene in the Hill Street Centre in 1975. I made last nostalgic purchase in Jack Hatfield - with a serious pair of new pro goalkeeper gloves, my future on a Thursday night in the Bohemia goal is surely secure for another season. The other familiar scene at this end of Borough Road was East Ocean, where my old boss would automatically order place his order for Singapore Vermicelli without consulting the menu. Alas, it has gone. I wandered along to the home of the Evening Gazette. It is still there, but no longer has a focus on the Evening. I remember the Sports Gazette too, but that is long gone. In a world before the internet and even Teletext, people used to queue outside the “top shop” keen to learn of the football results. The pink pages were filled with reports of action up to half time with results and tables, so even the faithful who had been to the match could learn whether the Boro rivals had won, drawn or lost.
I cut down
towards MIMA. Where the Dorman Museum was the Victorian gift to Middlesbrough, the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art is the lottery gift to town. It stands almost isolated across the from the Law Courts, the Gothic Town Hall and the Cleveland Centre. The exhibits are very cutting edge in terms of how art is perceived these days, but even with a free entry I doubt the percentage of locals who have been inside is staggeringly high. I nipped in to survey the scene from the roof terrace. I moved on. I walked over past the statue of a bottle outside the side of the Town Hall. There was another controversial statue in the day, but that seemed to have been moved on. John Vaughan, early ironmaster and Mayor, stands watch outside the Central Library. It was his discovery of iron ore in the Eston Hills that started the major industrial development on the banks of the Tees. The library was a gift from Carnegie and opened by none other than local sipermarket pioneer, Amos Hinton. The Cleveland Centre has undergone a major refurb in recent times and where once the Middlesbrough building society row was housed is now a Holiday
Inn Express. My old workplace was boarded up and the premises are now apparently a restaurant opportunity. Similarly, my old office at the Church House tower block is also boarded up. Window cleaners are now denied the opportunity of scaling the heights. I walked through the Cleveland Centre for old times’ sake and on through Captain Cook Square to the Bus Station. Captain James Cook is synonymous with Whitby, but he was born in the Middlesbrough suburb of Marton before his folks moved outside to the village of Great Ayton. Cook subsequently went off to further the British rule in unmapped parts of the world and his only connection with Middlesbrough - what was believed to be his parent’s house - was moved brick by brick to Melbourne in 1934. He now has a shopping precinct named after him as a sort of poor substitute. Australia has done quite nicely out of Teesside come to think of it. Sydney got a nice bridge, that along with the Opera House, is one of the symbols of the City. The Other Half and I climbed on it on one of our trips and I pointed out with some pride to guide the
Made on Teesside stamps. Cook left as many do, not to the map the world, but just to find a job. The majority look back with fond nostalgia, but not all can write songs. Chris Rea, whose family owned coffee and ice cream parlours, was one who left. The words of Steel River spell out how it used to be and how it all changed. An unofficial anthem in many ways.
The Bus Station might not be the Bus Station much longer, if plans to relocate if go through. I can see the local outcry now if the planned location gets the go-ahead …. but it is nowhere near the shops! I guess either way, it won’t be near House of Fraser as they have just pulled the plug on this and many other stores. They called it Binns in our day. I always recall that somebody had a job sitting in the lift and pressing the buttons for the floors. It was all a bit Are You Being Served? The Town Hall was opened in 1889 and has just undergone a major upgrade. The original extolled civic pride of a town that 40 years
Ironmaster and early Mayor of Middlesbrough
before just been a small industrial blip in the bend on the Tees. I used to go to gigs here after we left school, but probably haven’t been inside for 25 years +. I noted that one of the upcoming acts for the autumn was one hit wonder, Jilted John, supported by John Otway. Wild Willy Barrett either hadn't been asked or couldn't make it! I walked down the rest of Albert Road. The banks and financial offices have disappeared to be replaced by yet more places to over indulge in refreshments. A small plaque adorns the front of the old Dorman Long offices on Zetland Road opposite the Railway Station. This is the only commercial building designed by architect, Phillip Webb, who was also known as the Father of Arts and Crafts. The only remaining familiar name in Exchange Square is Spenceleys Emporium. A statue of Henry Bolckow watched over proceedings of the old financial heart of the town, where deals were done for iron Henry Bolckow was in partnership with John Vaughan in the first iron works and is generally seen as the founding father of the early Middlesbrough. After his early life in Germany, he arrived vis
Rostock and Newcastle and went on to be the boss of the largest company in the world at the time. I went under the railway line and Albert Bridge and "over the border" into the St Hildas area. The railway line represented somewhere you just didn’t go. This was the original town centre, but you wouldn't know that today. The majority is just industrial wasteland, largely undisturbed since the original demolition crews created a new landscape. I walk on passing Bolckow's old house. Cleveland Street runs into Durham Street. I pass the Captain Cook pub – now closed – where Oz came back from the dead in Series 3 of Auf Wiedersehen Pet. The object of the series looms large close by. The Transporter Bridge. It never did get taken down and shipped all the way to Arizona, as was the fictional tale. It is still very much here. The original 1911 structure with the cradle suspended just above the River waiting to whisk you across the Tees to Port Clarence. Alas, high winds or repainting or whatever often intervenes and it always seems to be a curiosity these days rather than an essential transport solution. The listed boundary wall
of the first iron works makes a nice framed shot of the bridge. The Old Town Hall from 1846 stands marooned as the only building in a sea of green fields, where once it would have been a hive of activity. Boarded up and neglected, it hangs on with its listed status looking for a purpose. It surveys the area from a slightly elevated position. The cooling towers across the Tees to one side, the Transporter before it and Riverside across towards the docks. I wander back across by the old Harbourmaster’s Clock Tower Building and the “new” Middlesbrough College. A 50 metre high sculpture adorns the old quayside. Temenos is higher than Nelsons Column and longer than a 747 jumbo jet. It doesn’t look it, but is actually much taller than the Angel of the North which greets your arrival on Tyneside. The £2.7 million structure resembles in my opinion, a huge basketball net is held together with steel wire. Temenos – apparently means “scared ground” in Greek. There are those I am sure who would argue that the sacred ground is next door across the dock! I walk back to town across the wasteland that once hummed with
industrial activity amongst the rows of now long gone terraced houses. The Bongo International club still stands near the shiny new Middlesbrough base for Cleveland Police.
I will finish where I started – but this time it is at Awesome Park (or if you prefer the industrial version - Oresome), not Ayresome. It is difficult to believe that the 1995 structure is nearly 23 years old. I can remember the excitement of the grand opening and I was fortunate to be there. Fate played a hand and meant the first visitors were that glory team from SW6 that I followed. 28,286 were on hand on 26 August - it was before the corners had been filled in to boost the attendance. The circus had truly arrived at this point. Imported players flooded in to seize their share of the cash. It is probably fair to say that some thrilled, whilst other disappointed. It is not clear whether the departure of Ravenelli was more of a loss for the football club or the darts team in a North Yorkshire village. The gates from the old ground that were firmly locked in liquidation in 1986 sit in
the car park, along with the statues of George Hardwick - England captain - and Wilf Mannion. I look at it with mixed thoughts. As Mr Rea would say in the song, I see it all like it was yesterday. The stadium was meant to be the catalyst for regeneration of the old town centre docks, but aside from a recent additions not a lot has actually changed. The trend of waterside development has somehow failed to catch on here. The rusting hulk of the floating nightclub discarded by the Tyne has disappeared, but there is no marina of recreational yachts that transformed the docks in Hartlepool. The Iron Lady saw great things in the future when she walked ground such as this in 1987 armed with just a sizeable handbag. She might well be right eventually, but it isn't much of a consolation to a generation lost in the confusion who had to depart just to survive - other visiting blue politicians might well care to remember that. Hard hat and protective cothing optional! Appendix 1
The country is in the middle of World Cup fever as I write and the tournament marches on. I
opted out of Russia and my Fan ID remains a souvenir. Meanwhile in the real world, non-league teams were preparing for another season. My close season had lasted a whole 4 weeks since the giddy heights of the CONIFA World Football Cup Final in London, so it was time to find a pre-season friendly. I was reminded that I had spent most of that watching football on TV. Multi million pound stadium developments are the order of the day in the FIFA showpiece, but there was no obvious new development down the KIng George V. In the shadows of the Cleveland Hills under the watchful eye of 100+ souls, Guisborough Town were entertaining National League North Spennymoor Town. The game had been moved to a noon kick off to avoid a clash with the quarter final against Sweden in the Russian space capital of Samara. Fly Me To The Moon with Gareth and Harry. The dreams of the 2018 / 2019 season were being formulated on a rock hard, but pristine pitch. The blue sky and the hills behind provided the backdrop – the hills that were once full of ore to fuel the furnaces of Ironopolis. On the other
side far below in the Tees basin, the Steel River flowed on as Spennymoor strolled to a comfortable 5-1 win in the midday heat. The locals were giving it knowing looks. It could be another long winter. Pre-Season Friendly Guisborough Town FC 1 Spennymoor Town FC 5 Date :
July 2018 @ 12 Noon Venue
: King George V Ground, Howlbeck Road, Guisborough. TS14 6LE Attendance
: Est 110 Scorers :
0-1 Henry (Spennymoor Town), 0-2 Foley (Spennymoor Town), 0-3 Ramshaw (Spennymoor Town), 1-3 Roberts (Guisborough), 1-4 Ramshaw (Spennymoor Town), 1-5 Trialist (Spennymoor Town) Guisborough Town :
to be advised Spennymoor Town :
Gould, Williams, Henry, Thackray, Atkinson, Curtis, Chandler, Hibb,s Ramshaw, Johnson, Foley Substitutes: Hall Trialist (x4)
Tot: 0.2s; Tpl: 0.084s; cc: 13; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0215s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb