The Jewel in Middlesbrough’s Crown

Hello, my name is Ann Thomas and I‘m part of the Friends of Stewart Park group. The Friends were formed 10 years ago to support the Heritage Lottery Fund bid to restore and renovate the park’s buildings and grounds. Today we continue to raise funds for the park and promote it as a major attraction.  We also work with park staff on practical tasks and on agreed projects.

Stewart Park is often called “the jewel in Middlesbrough’s crown” – quite rightly in my opinion – and was given to the people of Middlesbrough as a public park in 1928.  There have been many changes over the years, the latest being the arrival of Askham Bryan College who are in the process of renovating and developing the Central Lodge as their Middlesbrough campus. The park is approximately 120 acres of open parkland where you are free to come to learn, run, walk and play and yet you can still find a quiet spot to sit and watch the wildlife and birds or simply admire the wonders of nature.

Some of my favourite spots in the park are the restored walled garden next to the Bolckow Visitor Centre, with its summer house and wide variety of plants, the temple with its colourful flower bed surrounded by some of the park’s specimen trees and the arboretum near the Captain Cook commemorative vase with its glorious displays of foliage throughout the year.

You probably have some different ideas about your favourite place in the park – if so then why not post them here, with a photo if you wish, and tell us why you chose that spot?

Henry Bolckow – The Short Reign of an Industrial King

The thing that struck me when walking around the surviving buildings of the estate owned by Henry Bolckow for the first time was how strange it was, given the significant amounts of wealth on show, that the intended life of such an impressive private estate could have been so short. By 1960, less than 100 years after the erection of the Central Lodge buildings in 1864, themselves built only a few short years after Marton Hall itself in the mid-1850s, the hall they had served was gone and the estate buildings were being used by the local council.


Image Provided by Teesside Archives.

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The Gustav Martens Dilemma

Before I talk about Gustav Martens, firstly I would like to introduce myself. My name is Vincent Graham and I am a Teesside University graduate, now employed by Askham Bryan College on their project to develop the Central Lodge buildings at Stewart Park. We are very fortunate to be working alongside Dr Joan Heggie, Research Fellow at Teesside University. Joan is a consultant to the Askham Bryan at Stewart Park project, offering her expertise from research she has carried out on local 19th century iron and steel industrialists and on John Ross, Architect of Feethams, Darlington.

The Central Lodge buildings are situated in an area which is microcosm of local history, being both the birthplace of James Cook as well as the site of the seat of power of one of Middlesbrough’s founding fathers, Henry Bolckow. It is then, extremely exciting for me to have been given the chance to be involved with this project. The estate buildings themselves and what remains of their original features, despite years of disrespect, are microcosms of history in and of themselves, incredible survivors of Middlesbrough’s past.

However there are many questions that need to be answered and just as many assertions that have been made about these buildings that need to be proven. Even down to what we know about who built them.

Durham County Advertiser (15 April, 1864)

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March Hares

Spring is here at Stewart Park! A little bit of sun is all I need to make me feel that the long days of winter and behind us, well, we can live in hope!

Spring always makes me want to look forward and I long to visit every garden centre in the known universe. You see, I am totally addicted to buying seeds, I make any excuse to abandon the family and go to do a little seed shopping, or as I like to call it “research”. The brightly coloured packets make promises of Horticultural Heaven that I quite simply can not resist. After all these years of growing bedding in their thousands I am still amazed that these tiny specks of insignificant dust, that come out of these packets, when given light, water and warmth, wonderful plants emerge like household items from Mary Poppins carpet bag. Nature is truly amazing.

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