Albert Park and the Dorman Museum
Beyond the town centre Middlesbrough’s suburbs stretch out to the rural fringes of the Vale of the River Leven in the Cleveland district of North Yorkshire. Within these suburbs several of the town’s outer areas developed from earlier villages that were absorbed by the growth of the town.
To the south of the Teesside University area on the edge of the town centre, Linthorpe Road, a prime shopping street, gradually takes on a residential role after skirting the western edge of the beautiful Albert Park.
Around Linthorpe Road, at the entrance to Albert Park are a number of notable features. They include the cenotaph; Dorman Museum and the nearby Sacred Heart Roman Catholic church.
The Dorman Museum is a fabulous source of information about Middlesbrough’s local and social history. It was founded in 1904 by Arthur Dorman of Dorman Long as a memorial to his son, George Lockwood Dorman and other members of the Yorkshire Regiment who lost their lives in the Boer War. Just outside the museum and the neighbouring entrance to Albert Park is the war memorial and cenotaph.
Albert Park was given to the people of Middlesbrough by the ironmaster, Henry Bolckow in 1868 and was opened by Prince Arthur of Connaught and Stathearn, who was Queen Victoria’s seventh child and third son. It was the prince’s first public engagement and the park of course commemorates the name of his father, Albert, the Queen’s Consort, who died in 1861.
When Middlesbrough Football Club were formed in 1875 they played their first two years at Albert Park then moved east of the park to a field at Breckon Hill for a couple of years before relocating to a cricket ground nearby, just off Linthorpe Road. Staying on the football theme, there is a statue to the famed Middlesbrough-born football manager and former Middlesbrough and Sunderland footballer, Brian Clough in Albert Park.
In Linthorpe Road, near the Albert Park entrance are two huge churches that reflect the Victorian growth and importance of Middlesbrough. One is the former Park Methodists church of 1905 with its green copper dome.
The other, rather extraordinary church, which is still in use, is the yellow brick Roman Catholic church of the Sacred Heart (built 1930-32) which has a European Romanesque appearance. It was designed by a Belgian architect, Jules Coomans (1871-1937).
The area west of Linthorpe Road across from Albert Park is Ayresome, which has a name dating back to Viking times. Now suburban, Ayresome was one of a number of small places still separate from Middlesbrough at the start of the nineteenth century. Ayresome is Old Norse ‘ar-husum’ meaning ‘houses near the river’ as the original Ayresome was further west (beyond the present A66) towards Newport, roughly where West Lane meets Bede Court just over a thousand feet from the river.
Viking settlers probably established houses here in easy reach of the Tees where perhaps longships or fishing vessels were stationed. The name Aarhus in Norway has the same meaning as Teesside’s Ayresome, as may the east Denmark coastal town of Arhus.
Over the years the name changed slightly from ‘Arushum’ in 1129 to ‘Arsum’ in the thirteenth century. It is marked on Saxton’s map of 1577 as ‘Ars-ham’ but this spelling was probably a less accurate interpretation of pronunciation than the modern form, Ayresome.
From 1903, after moving from Linthorpe Road, Ayresome was home to Middlesbrough Football Club, who played at the purpose-built Ayresome Park ground until 1995 when the club moved to the Riverside Stadium near the old Middlesbrough dock. Ayresome Park was a few streets west of Linthorpe Road where the stadium site is recalled in street-names like ‘The Turnstile’ and ‘The Midfield’. Boro’s short-lived rivals, Middlesbrough Ironopolis FC (1889-1894), known as ‘The Nops’ also played hereabouts at a site called the Paradise Ground. Ayresome Park was built on part of what was the north west corner of the Paradise Ground.
Linthorpe Road follows the course of an old Middlesbrough lane called Linthorpe Lane that ran south to Linthorpe village, now another suburb of Middlesbrough. Linthorpe is located in and around The Avenue area at the southern terminus of Linthorpe Road.
Linthorpe, like Ayresome has a Viking name as ‘thorpe’ (torp) is a term for a smaller outlying Viking settlement. Historically called Levingtorp and Levyngthorpe, the name supposedly means ‘farm belonging to Leofa’. Its location was perhaps a little too far north to be associated with the River Leven but its difficult to ignore a potential connection with the little river that joins the Tees further south. The Victorians built a new village of Linthorpe in the 1860s but over time it was absorbed by Middlesbrough’s rapid growth.
Linthorpe village was once home to the famed Linthorpe Pottery, where noted designer and Orientalist, Christopher Dresser was employed. The pottery was founded in 1879 by local landowner, John Harrison who wanted to produce art pottery for specialist markets rather than mass-produced work for general sale.
In 1884 the pottery won the Bronze at the World Industrial Exposition in New Orleans but sadly the Linthorpe Pottery did not trade long, closing in 1889 due to financial difficulties caused by the rising cost of white clay and emerging competitors. Linthorpe Pottery is highly prized by collectors today.
Acklam and Stainsby
Acklam, to the south of Linthorpe has a Viking name ‘Okull-um’ which means ‘ankle slopes’ and is best-known as the home to Acklam Hall which dates from the 1680s. The hall was built as the home for the wealthy Sir William Hustler, an East Yorkshire-born draper who served as an MP for Northallerton and for Ripon. The plasterwork in the house includes a date of 1684. Now a wedding venue, the hall is noted for its impressive staircase.
The ‘Avenue of Trees’ to the south of Hall Drive on the edge of a nearby school field was created for the former estate grounds of Acklam Hall. Just east of Acklam Hall is the Middlesbrough suburb of Tollesby, another former settlement of Scandinavian origin (named from a Viking called Tolli) that was swallowed up by the growth of Middlesbrough.
Acklam Grange School on the west side of Acklam was formerly called Stainsby School and is recalled in the song Stainsby Girls by the Middlesbrough-born singer and songwriter, Chris Rea. Further west still, beyond the A19, is the Stainsby Beck and adjoining Stainton Beck with the farm of Stainsby Grange nearby. Over on the east side of the A19 is Stainsby Hall Farm. Stainsby is yet another Viking place-name, Stainsby, meaning the ‘farm of Steinn’.
Marton and Stewart Park
Marton to the east of Tollesby is a pleasant suburb of Middlesbrough with an Anglo-Saxon name that could mean ‘marshy farm’, or farm near a maer (a boundary), or perhaps even a farm near a mere or a lake. Today it is of course home to the beautiful Stewart Park which contains the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum.
Of course, like most Middlesbrough suburbs Marton was once a quite separate village in a rural setting surrounded by open countryside. The museum stands close to the site of Marton Hall, completed in 1869 but demolished in 1960. It was the home to the ironmaster, Middlesbrough MP and Mayor, Henry Bolckow, who landscaped the grounds of its estate which would later become Stewart Park. It was in 1924 that the land was purchased by local councillor, Thomas Dormand Stewart who gave the park to the people of Middlesbrough.
The famed explorer Captain James Cook was born in the eastern part of Marton in 1728 and a granite urn erected by H.W.F. Bolckow in 1852 marks the actual site of his birthplace.
The purpose-built Captain Cook Birthplace Museum was constructed close by and opened on the 28th October 1978. Cook was born on 27th October 1728, so it was a fitting celebration of the 250th anniversary of his birth.
Cook was one of the world’s greatest explorers and navigators and the museum houses themed galleries and exhibitions associated with Cook’s life and travels. Cook later moved, as a boy, to Aireyholme Farm at the foot of Roseberry Topping – the famous hill that dominates the landscape to Middlesbrough’s south.
Ormesby and Ormesby Hall
Ormesby is technically just outside Middlesbrough and situated in the Borough of Redcar and Cleveland but the open lands and grounds that surround Ormesby Hall are just beyond the tree lined street called The Grove to the east of Marton’s Stewart Park.
Ormesby is an intriguing name. Wyverns or ‘worms’ are very much part of North East legend and in Viking mythology and certain wyvern like serpents or sea-monsters were called ‘Orms’. Ormesby is another place-name of Viking origin and its name means ‘Worm’s farm or village’ but the Orm of Ormesby was of course a Viking settler called Orm. This was a popular personal name amongst the Vikings and occurs in other English place-names with Norse connections like Ormskirk (Worm’s church) near Liverpool and Ormside (Worm’s Hill) in Cumbria. Like the Middlesbrough area, Cumbria and Merseyside were areas of extensive Viking settlement.
The stately Palladian style Ormesby Hall is the best-known historic feature of Ormesby. The hall belongs to the National Trust and is primarily eighteenth century but originally dated back to the 1600s. It was historically the home to the Pennyman family who purchased the manor of Ormesby from the Conyers and Strangeways in 1600. In earlier times the manor had formed part of the lands of Gisborough Priory. The present house was built by Dorothy Pennyman before 1754.
The nearby Ormesby Hall stables were built later in the eighteenth century after 1770. In more recent times they housed the mounted section of Cleveland Police. Ormesby Hall is a visitor attraction that is a property of the National Trust and stands in 240 acres of parkland and farmland with pleasing walks and has a beautiful formal Victorian garden. The hall was still lived in by the Pennyman family until 1983.
In Church Lane just to the south east of the hall is the church of St Cuthbert. It dates from 1875 but was built on the site of an earlier Norman church.
Though now surrounded by suburban growth, the old village of Ormesby can still be seen to the north of the Ormesby Hall grounds in the area called The High Street. Buildings here include a row of former almshouses and a former school.
Across the A174 to the south of Ormesby, the A171 rises towards the Eston Hills via Ormesby Bank towards the suburb of Nunthorpe. At the top of Ormesby Bank is Upsall Hall and Upsall Grange Farm. Its Viking name is from ‘up-salir’ meaning ‘high dwellings’ and has exactly the same meaning as the famous University city of Uppsala near Stockholm in Sweden.
The descent from Ormesby Bank into Ormesby offers some spectacular views of Teesside nestling in the valley of the Tees below, which leaves you in no doubt that we should consider Middlesbrough a city. Similar views might be obtained from Eston Nab.
Normanby, to the east of Ormesby is another Teesside suburb that developed from an earlier rural settlement with a Viking name. Situated in the Borough of Redcar and Cleveland. It literally means settlement or farm of the Norsemen or Norwegians and it is thought that it was so-named because it lay within an area where most of the neighbouring farms and villages were settled by Danes. Compare the name to Danby in Eskdale to the west of Whitby which means ‘settlement of the Danes’ which seems to be located in an area that was mostly settled by Norwegians.
In the later medieval period Normanby belonged to the De Brus family of Skelton. Later owners included the Percys, Pennymans and Consett family. Normanby Manor was split into two parts in the eighteenth century, respectively centred on Normanby Hall and the Normanby House, both of which remain – the first became a care home and the second serves as a doctor’s surgery.
The suburb of North Ormesby is much further to the north of Ormesby with the housing estates of Bewick Hills, Brambles Farm and Pallister Park situated between the two places. North Ormesby is locally nicknamed ‘Doggy’ possibly from an old dog-leg in a rail track. It was a small ‘new town’ created by James Pennyman in the nineteenth century. Now a Teesside suburb, unlike the other places ending in ‘by’ North Ormesby doesn’t have Viking origins.
Stainton and Coulby Newham
The most outlying suburbs of Middlesbrough lie to the south of the A174 and the most westerly of these is Stainton, a village that has grown into a suburb but still very much a village at heart. Its name means ‘Stone farm’ and it has an Anglo-Saxon name that shows Norse influence in its spelling. There is a thirteenth century church, village hall and a Methodist Chapel of 1840.
Stainton is skirted on its south side by the Stainton Beck (a tributary of the Stainsby Beck) which separates it from the nearby village of Thornton on the Maltby Beck. The village of Maltby (Malti’s Farm) near the A19, to the west, is situated on the road to Ingleby Barwick and Yarm.
Hemlington another pleasant suburb, to the east of Stainton has an Anglo-Saxon name meaning ‘Hemela’s Farm’, with the Hemlington Lake situated in a park at its heart. To the east along the Stainton Way is Coulby Newham and the Parkway Shopping Centre. The place is named from Coulby Manor to the north (it was the settlement belonging to a Viking caleld Kolli) and the associated farming settlement of Newham Grange (‘the new homestead’) which is now an urban farm visitor attraction.
The Parkway area of Coulby Newham is home Middlesbrough’s Roman Catholic cathedral. The cathedral was commenced in 1985 and consecrated in 1998. It superseded Middlesbrough’s old Catholic cathedral of 1879 in Sussex Street, situated in the old part of Middlesbrough which had become isolated and in a state of disrepair. It was destroyed by a fire in 2000 and subsequently demolished. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough, centred on Coulby Newham stretches all the way to Hull and the River Humber and includes the City of York.
East of Parkway, beyond Newham Way is the pretty parkland called Fairy Dell Park and the adjoining Gunnergate Wetlands. The dell was once part of the grounds of Gunnergate Hall, which was built in 1858 and demolished in 1946. It was once the property of ironmaster John Vaughan. The hall was a short distance from Marton Hall that was home to his ironmaster partner, Henry Bolckow.
Gunnergate Hall was named from the nearby Gunnergate Way, first mentioned in the twelfth century and derived from the Old Viking personal name Gunnar. Gunnar’s Gata in fact means ‘Gunnar’s Way’.
East of Coulby Newham and the Fairy Dell along the Stainton Way road is the suburb Marton which we have explored above and to its south is Nunthorpe. This is another pleasant suburb of Middlesbrough, although the original village of Nunthorpe itself survives in a rural setting just to the south.
In distant times Nunthorpe village was simply called ‘Thorpe’ being ‘a small farm’ of Viking origin. It became ‘Nunthorpe’ due to a Cistercian nunnery that existed here in the twelfth century. The nuns who briefly settled here were apparently evicted from Hutton Lowcross for rowdy behaviour, though this may not account for the nickname ‘Naughty Nunthorpe’ that has sometimes been given to the suburb of Nunthorpe.
A notable house called Grey Towers dating from 1865 stands about a quarter of a mile north west of the village. It was built for the ironmaster and Middlesbrough mayor, William Hopkins and was later the home of Arthur Dorman of the Dorman Long steel firm. Now a private dwelling, it had served as a hospital from 1932 until 1988.
St Mary the Virgin, the church for Nunthorpe village is situated in Church Lane about a mile to the north of the main village and looks convincingly medieval but was in fact completed in 1926. There is a lovely view across the countryside to Roseberry Topping from Church Lane.
Back in the village, Nunthorpe Hall, the former manor house for Nunthorpe dates from 1623 but was significantly rebuilt in the early nineteenth century. It now serves as a care home.
Our YouTube channel explores the Viking history of the River Tees.