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Birth of a Town and other events 1828 to 1839

One of the most remarkable North East events of the late 1820s was the birth of Middlesbrough. In 1829 Middlesbrough was a small riverside farm purchased by a Darlington businessman called Joseph Pease. Pease developed the farm into a town and coal port. During the next 70 years Middlesbrough would see one of the most extraordinary population explosions ever known in British history. Further north the new town of Seaham Harbour was also born, Hartlepool was being transformed from a fishing community into one of Britain's busiest ports. Meanwhile in Newcastle the region's grandest streets were being constructed.

1828 August 2 - PEASE SURVEYS MIDDLESBROUGH (Darlington)

Darlington's Quaker industrialist Joseph Pease has sailed up the River Tees to view the farmland site of Middlesbrough as the potential setting for a new port. This evening he records in his diary that he could see the day when "the bare fields will be covered with a busy multitude, and numerous vessels crowding to the banks denoting a busy seaport".

1828 November 28 - HARBOUR AT SEAHAM (County Durham)

The first stone is laid for the new harbour at Seaham by the Marquess of Londonderry.

1829 - MIDDLESBROUGH IS BORN (Middlesbrough)

Joseph Pease and Partners has bought the Middlesbrough farmland Estate of William Chilton of Billingham from the tenant farmer John Whinfield Parrington. The land by the Tees will be used for the building of a new town. Middlesbrough currently has a population of only 30 people. The Stockton and Darlington Railway is currently being extended into Middlesbrough (it will reach it on December 27, 1830).

1830 August 22 - MIDDLESBROUGH'S FIRST CHILD (Middlesbrough)

John Richardson Chapman is the first child to be born in Middlesbrough.

1830 - SECOND SHORT CUT ON TEES (Stockton-on-Tees)

A second cut of 1,100 yards has been made across a loop in the River Tees. This canal has been made at Portrack near Stockton and stretches from Blue House Point to Newport. Portrack is situated on a hazardous meander on the Tees where large ships had to be tugged by men or horses towards the port of Stockton. This is called 'racking' and is the reason Port-rack acquired its name.

1831 - MIDDLESBROUGH'S POPULATION IS 154 (Middlesbrough)

Middlesbrough's population is 154, tiny compared to the population of neighbouring Stockton on the north side of the river where 7,000 people live.

1831 - NEW MEMBERS (The North)

The Northumbrian-born Government minister Earl Grey introduces a Government reform bill which creates many new MPs. Sunderland, Gateshead, South Shields and Tynemouth elect MPs for the first time.

1831 - MIDDLESBROUGH BOOMS (Middlesbrough)

In January William Fallows, who has organised the shipping of coal from Middlesbrough staithes, made the first shipment of coal in his ship called The Sunnyside. At the end of the year 151,000 tons of coal has been shipped from the new port.

1831 - BIG PLANS FOR HARTLEPOOL (Hartlepool)

The Hartlepool Dock and Railway Company has been established at the instigation of Christopher Tennant of Yarm and Rowland Burdon of Castle Eden. The two businessmen want to develop the old fishing community into a busy coal port.

1831 - POTTERY PRODUCTION (Middlesbrough)

Middlesbrough Pottery starts up.

1831 - CHOLERA EPIDEMIC (Sunderland)

An Asiatic cholera epidemic hits the country after it is introduced by a sailor at Sunderland.

1831 July 25 - SEAHAM COAL (County Durham)

The first coal is shipped from Seaham Harbour by the Lord Seaham collier brig.


Robert Wilson of Yarm begins manufacturing sulphuric acid and fertilisers at Urlay Nook, near Egglescliffe.


England's tallest chimnet has been completed at the Friar's Goose alkali works near Gateshead to drive away the fumes. At this time Tyneside was the heart of the nation's chemical works.

1833 - MONASTERY SITE FOUND (Hartlepool)

A cemetery is discovered at Hartlepool. It is thought to be that of the Anglo-Saxon monastery of St Hilda.

1833 - MIDDLESBROUGH'S FIRST SHIP (Middlesbrough)

Mr Laing opens a shipyard in the newly-born town of Middlesbrough. The first ship launched is The Middlesbro'.


The Clarence Railway opens. It is linked to Clarence Staithes at Billingham-on-Tees.


The Otnaburgh is launched by boat builder JG Holmes.

1835 - HARTLEPOOL SHIPS COAL (Hartlepool)

Hartlepool Dock opens and starts shipping coal from its newly-deepened harbour. The first vessel to do this is The Britannia owned by leading citizen and historian of Hartlepool Sir Cuthbert Sharp.

1835 - SHIPYARD ESTABLISHED (Hartlepool)

Thomas Richardson of Castle Eden and John Parkin of Sunderland establish a shipyard near the High Street in Old Hartlepool. The first ship built is The Castle Eden.


The remaining privileges and revenues held by the Prince Bishops of Durham are abolished. Their castle is passed to the University of Durham, established in 1832.

1837 June 20, - VICTORIA CROWNED (Britain)

Queen Victoria ascends to the throne.

1837 - IRON ORE DISCOVERED (County Durham)

Iron ore is found at Consett.


Christopher Tennant gains an Act of Parliament for The Great North of England Clarence and Hartlepool Junction Railway. He has plans to further develop Hartlepool as a port.

1838 September 7, - GRACE DARLING RESCUE (Farne Islands)

Lighthouse keeper's daughter Grace Darling rescues survivors from a wreck off the Farne Islands. Grace becomes famous overnight, receives offers of marriage and even has a play written about her. She dies of consumption in 1842.

1838 - FIRST SCHOOL (Middlesbrough)

Middlesbrough's first school opens in Stockton Street with 120 boys and 100 girls.

1838 - RAILWAYS EXPAND (North-East)

The Stanhope and Tynedale Railway is completed in 1834 linking Weardale, Consett and South Shields. The Sunderland and Durham Railway opens in 1836. Newcastle and Carlisle are linked by rail in 1838.


The building of ships' engines begins at Hartlepool.

1839 - CANADA REPORT (Canada)

John George Lambton, Earl of Durham and the new Governor General of Canada, compiles the Durham Report laying down the future of Canada as an independent country.


From 1835, Newcastle develops a new town centre. Builder Richard Grainger and architect John Dobson build in grand classical style on the site of gardens formerly part of a country estate. Developments take place to the north and east of the existing, la rgely Medieval town and include the Grainger Market, Royal Arcade, Grey Street, Grainger Street and Clayton Street. The developments are backed by the town clerk John Clayton and reinforce Newcastle's status as the region's principal town.


County Durham's Cornforth and Garmondsway Moor Collieries begin shipping coal at Hartlepool. A new railway is built called the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway linking Hartlepool with the coalfield. Instigated by Christopher Tennant who died before its co mpletion, the railway is taken over by Stockton solicitor, Ralph Ward Jackson.

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