The 1864 Central Lodge stable block was described by one contemporary, in the only direct description we have of the building from the Victorian era, as “stables second to none in the North of England”. This was the opinion of Hugh Gilzean Reid, founder of what was then the Middlesbrough Daily Gazette, when visiting in 1868.
I feel so lucky every day that I get to do a job that I love. But to make things even better, I get to do it in this beautiful park. My office window looks out onto one of my favourite parts of Stewart Park, the Victorian Walled Garden. When my eyes wander from my screen I often enjoy people watching; couples will wander around and sit on the bench and families will explore the many different plants. I love to set off with the camera and take pictures of all of the wonderful features of the park, and make sure to share these on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The view from my office window
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.
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)