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.

Marton-Hall-Central-Lodge-Stewart-Park-Middlesbrough-Henry-Bolckow

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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Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

Another amazing find from the Central Lodge – did I mention we’d found a boxing flyer?  This is for an event at the Wellington Inn, Horsefair, Pontefract.

The flyer mentions ‘Young Iron Marsh of Pontefract v Young Herberts, Hemsworth.’ that was an 8 round contest followed by 6 rounds ‘Young Rooney (Featherstone) v D. Rowbottom (Hemsworth.)  these were the warm up bouts for the next two 8 round fights.  The first was the ‘Special 8 round contest, for the £5 a-side and Promoter’s Purse between, Hart Reed v. Young Cool’ both from Tanshelf. The big contest was between ‘Darky Bedford, (from)Manchester V. Texay Jack, Y. and L. Regiment, Pontefract.’  The M.C was a Mr. H. Green, the timekeeper M.r J. Carrol and the referee was Mr C. Barratt.  ‘Admission was 1/2 Front Seats were 2/2 (and) Ringside Seats , 3/6’  The printer was ‘A. Tunstall, Printer, Pontefract.’

I have a vision that one of the young army lads stationed in the attic of the Central Lodge had gone to see to these fights in between the training and before going off to war.  Maybe he kept the flyer? Maybe he was one of the boxers? There’s no date and it could have been from the previous tenants, the Bolckow household staff who lived and worked in the Central Lodge – perhaps they’d gone home and seen the bouts?  It’s one of those snippets, almost a sneek peek of somebody’ s history.  Who won each bout?  Is the Wellington Inn still there in Pontefract?  Is there an A. Tunstall printer still going?  Lots of questions, I wonder if someone out there has these answers?

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