You might remember a few weeks ago I wrote an article about what it means to be from Middlesbrough. Well, the post had a great response, so I thought it would be fun to put together a series of ‘Smoggie’ articles.
I’m proud to hail from the North East and love the idea of exploring the culture and history of my home and sharing it with you.
Who knows, maybe we can raise awareness of the town and some of the great things that are happening here!
I’ve put together a list that features some great and unusual facts about Middlesbrough and the surrounding area, from history to sport to urban legend; there are some fantastic stories.
If you’re a Smoggie like me, chances are you’ve heard a few of these tales at one time or another, but you might discover something new.
- The name Mydilsburgh is the earliest recorded form of Middlesbrough’s name and dates to Anglo-Saxon times (400–1000 AD), while many of the original villages that became part of the town appear in the Domesday Book of 1086 (source).
- The body of a Native American, Moses Carpenter, is buried in Linthorpe Cemetery. Carpenter was a member of the Mohawk tribe and was born in Ontario, Canada in 1854; his birth name was Ska-Run-Ya-Te. In 1889, he visited Middlesbrough as part of a travelling show, where he tragically died of a fever (source).
- The Transporter Bridge is the only place in the UK where you can bungee jump from a bridge. If you take on the challenge, you’ll climb the 210 steps to the top, before diving the 160ft towards the River Tees (source).
- In 1801, Middlesbrough was a farm that was home to 25 people. Today the population is over 140,000 (source).
- During the 1970s, actor Terry Scott, of Terry and June, managed to drive his car off the end of the Transporter Bridge and was only saved from the murky waters of the River Tees by the bridge’s safety net (source).
- In 1962, Linthorpe Road Old Cemetery was transformed into Ayresome Gardens and 11,000 bodies lay buried beneath the park and some of the surrounding homes, including that of Evening Gazette founder Hugh Gilzean-Reid (source).
- Middlesbrough has a town in America named after it. Middlesboro is the largest city in South East Kentucky and sits in a basin between Pine Mountain and the Cumberland Mountains, which is believed to be an old meteorite crater (source).
- Film director Ridley Scott is from the North East and based the opening shot of Blade Runner on the view of the old ICI plant at Wilton. He said: “There’s a walk from Redcar … I’d cross a bridge at night, and walk above the steel works. So that’s probably where the opening of Blade Runner comes from. It always seemed to be rather gloomy and raining, and I’d just think “God, this is beautiful.” You can find beauty in everything, and so I think I found the beauty in that darkness.” Apparently the site was also considered as a shooting location for one of the sequels to Scott’s Alien film (source).
- Boro’s old Ayresome Park ground featured in the 35th edition of the Guinness Book of Records – not for football, but for being the home of the largest reported advertising hoarding, which was painted on the roof of the North Stand by sponsor Heritage Hampers (source).
- During the 1966 World Cup, the North Korean team stayed on Teesside and beat Italy at Ayresome Park. They trained at the ICI chemical works, where many locals would turn up to watch them practice (source).
- When Middlesbrough Railway Station was badly bombed by the Luftwaffe during World War Two, the Evening Gazette gave only a cursory report of the event, playing down the effects on the town to prevent the enemy learning that the bombing raid had been a success, which was a common strategy at the time (source).
So Boro folks, what other unusual stories have you heard about the town? I’d love to hear them in the comments, or catch me on Facebook.