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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Teesside

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Immigration and Emigration
Coping with industrial growth

Inviting growth

Henry Bolckow
Henry Bolckow, one of the Middlesbrough Owners
© Courtesy of Middlesbrough Central Library
In 1841, Middlesbrough's stability was about to be upset by another industrial boom. The railway industry that had kick started the town's expansion, was now in danger of stunting its growth. It had become more profitable to transport coal by sea than by rail, making the coastal towns of Newcastle and Hartlepool more cost effective than Middlesbrough. The Middlesbrough Owners realised that a new industry was needed to secure the town's future prosperity. In 1839, Henry Bolckow, an accountant from Germany, and John Vaugham, an ironworker from Worcester were looking for a site for a new ironworks. In 1840, spotting a business opportunity, John Pease sold them several acres in Middlesbrough?s Commercial Street for £1,800.

Lady Florence Bell
Lady Bell author of At the Works: A study of manufacturing town
© Courtesy of Middlesbrough Central Library
The venture was a success and by 1873, Middlesbrough was producing two millions tons of pig iron a year, a third of Britain's total pig iron output. This achievement planted the seeds for a second surge in Middlesbrough's population; between 1841 and 1891 the population grew from 5,463 to 75,532. The incoming workers were mainly unskilled labourers from around England, Ireland, Wales, Poland and the Baltic States. In the 1871 census, 551 people were described as coming from "foreign parts". This included people from the British Colonies, the United States and the East Indies.

In 1901, there were 2,462 more men than women in Middlesbrough. Lady Bell in her study of Middlesbrough in At the Works: A study of a Manufacturing Town (1907) found Middlesbrough was different from other manufacturing towns because there were no jobs in the iron ore industry that were suitable for women. To secure their future, women were most likely to marry young or work in shops including tailors, dress makers and milliners.

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