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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Teesside

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Immigration and Emigration
Middlesbrough farm 1836
A handful of people lived on farmland in 1836

© Courtesy of Middlesbrough Central Library
Coping with industrial growth

From agriculture to industry

In 1830, Teesside was agricultural land; the area's three or four farms were home to around 25 people. Industrialists soon realised the area's suitability for exporting coal. One firm in particular, the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company, were keen to find a more economical route to export coal from the area.

In 1829, Joseph Pease of the company and his six Quaker partners bought the 500 acre Middlesbrough estate for £30,000 from William Chilton who had bought the farm land for £15,750 in 1808. The railway line was extended to the River Tees from Port Darlington in 1830, creating a through route for coal from Durham. By 1831, 150,000 tons of coal a year were exported from Middlesbrough, this amount rose to 1,500,000 tons by 1840.

Joseph Pease
Joeseph Pease saw Middlesbrough's potential.
© Courtesy of Middlesbrough Central Library
The success of the coal export trade attracted other industries to Middlesbrough, brickyard and pottery factories sprouted up alongside shipyards providing further employment. In 1846, historian J. W. Ord, described Middlesbrough as one of the commercial prodigies of the 19th Century. These booming industries initiated a migration of people into the town from surrounding counties. The town's population increased 36 fold (3642%) between 1831 and 1841 from 154 to 5,463.

In 1851 the census uncovered that over 3,000 people were not from Middlesbrough's largest county neighbour Yorkshire. They were primarily from across the United Kingdom including around 1,500 people from Durham. Outside the British Isles immigrants ranged from 16 people from Germany to one person from Jamaica.

But how were four farms going to cope with feeding and housing over 5,000 people? Middlesbrough's new population needed houses, facilities and amenities. Perhaps sensing further business opportunities, the coal industry entrepreneurs planned to build a town to house this new population.

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Your comments

1 Tony Donaghy from York - 2 January 2004
"I was interested to read the article about the growth of Middlesbrough. All of my parents' grandparents came from Ireland, apparently around the 1860s, some came via Consett and Workington. Their early birth/marriage details were found in the RC Cathedral archives. They lived in Italy St and Lloyd St which were part of the old town "over the border" as it was known when I was a child. Both families lived around the Branch (Lackenby) and ended up in South Bank and Grangetown. I was born in 1938 in Redcar but clearly remember the heavy industrialization of both those towns and similar features along the river in Middlesbrough. I then moved to Billingham about 1945 and on journeys by bus to see my grandmother in Grangetown for Sunday tea, (a boiled egg), passed through almost the whole ofindustial Teesside. The journey back in the dark was fascinating with the coke ovens, blast furnaces and chimneys lighting up the night sky. North Ormesby, Central Middlesbrough and Newport Road seemed to have a pub on every corner and most had children playing outside whilst presumably Mam and Dad were inside. The Donaghy/ Conway/ Finn/ Morris failies were members of the Catholic parishes of St Peter's and St Mary's in South Bank and Grangetown respectively. I have had no success in tracing where in Ireland that the families came from but family folk lore said they came from Pomeroy/Cookstown in Tyrone and possibly Dundalk. "

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