Middlesbrough Unitary district in ceremonial (not administrative) North Yorkshire

Middlesbrough is an industrial and port town near the mouth of the River Tees.

Middlesbrough is 4 miles east of Stockton-on-Tees, 8 miles west-north-west of Guisborough, 18 miles north-east of Northallerton, 26 miles west-north-west of Whitby and 43 miles north of York.

While it has Yorkshire's Cleveland Hills clearly in view, Middlesbrough has also had a long association with neighbours in County Durham. A succession of local government boundary changes around the River Tees, including for a time the creation of a new county of Cleveland, and placement in the North East rather than Yorkshire and the Humber government region, have contributed to some lessening of Yorkshire identity over the years, but Middlesbrough proudly remains part of the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire.

The Middlesbrough of today owes its existence to its massive expansion in the Victorian era as a port for exporting coal and for the many iron works that were developed beside the River Tees at the end of an extended Stockton and Darlington Railway.

For many centuries there had been a tiny settlement and chapel at the middle of the route between Durham and Whitby Abbey, but when it was bought by a small group of Quaker businessmen in 1829 it amounted to little more than a farm and a few houses. One of those businessmen was Joseph Pearce, who had taken over the management of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, first promoted by his railway pioneer father Edward Pearce.

Over the next 20 years a new planned town rapidly developed around a central Market Place and small Town Hall situated north of the present railway station. It was close to its iron works, the docks with its coal staithes and several other industries. Much of this land has now been cleared, but the old town hall clock tower remains.

It was only in the latter part of the 19th century that any development started to spread south of the railway line but by the start of the 20th century a large town had been laid out to a grid iron street plan between the railway, where the station was rebuilt in 1877, and Albert Park, which had been opened in 1868. At the centre of this area was a new Town Hall, completed in 1889, with a 170-foot high clock tower. Today this is dwarfed by the 19-storey Centre North East office block across the road, which was built in 1974 and previously named Corporation House.

While the former industrial sites and dockland near the centre of the town now no longer have their historic use, industry and commerce spreads for several miles to the east of Middlesborough alongside the River Tees. This includes Teesport, which is still one of Britain's largest ports, about 4 miles from the town centre in the neighbouring unitary district of Redcar and Cleveland. To the south of the town, new housing suburbs have been developed on former agricultural land.

Like many port and industrial cities with much better resources, the town of Middlesbrough now faces the challenge of regenerating some of its disused dockland, land cleared of older housing and vast areas of industrial sites which have become disused. The industrious town which has shown in the past how rapidly it can develop has shown it can sow the seeds for future investment with landmark developments, new business parks, good transport links and enhancements to the landscape.

Although having around 200 years of heavy industrial history Middlesbrough is also close to the scenic beauty of the Cleveland Hills and its farming, which is reflected in the Cleveland Show*, a big annual agricultural show which is staged in Stewart Park, Marton, around 3 miles south south east of the town centre. Another major event in Middlesbrough is its long-established annual Mela, celebrating the town's cultural diversity. The event is sponsored by Middlesbrough College and has been held since 1990.

* Further details about the Cleveland Show at the  Cleveland Show website.

Town features

Middlesbrough is on the River Tees.

Middlesbrough has all the usual big high street shopping names, spread around its partly-pedestrianised streets, the Hillstreet Shopping Centre and Cleveland Centre. The Dundas Shopping Centre offers a variety of smaller traders, holds the only indoor market in Middlesbrough town centre and hosts monthly food and craft markets.

The main Post Office in Middlesbrough is in the Centre Mall of the Cleveland Centre. There are also branch offices in a number of districts around the town.

The town has bank and building society branches.

Many pharmacies can be found in Middlesbrough and around its districts.

The town has a broad selection of pubs from small traditional street corner locals to popular student hangouts. A careful choice will find you real ale, bar snacks and live music, depending on your taste. Some popular national chain pubs are well-represented and it's only a few miles into the Cleveland Hills where you'll find village pubs and country dining.

The town has in recent years staged an annual Middlesbrough Restaurant Week, celebrating new arrivals on the local food and drink scene. This includes Italian and French style restaurants as well as American diners and burger, kebab, Chinese, Indian and pizza eateries.

Middlesbrough Central Library is in Victoria Square. There are also several branch libraries in districts around the town.

Entertainment and museums in Middlesbrough can be found below.

Places of worship: Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed, Islamic, Sikh, Hindu, other.

Middlesbrough Cathedral
Dalby Way, Coulby Newham
Saint Mary's Cathedral is the mother church of the Catholic diocese of Middlesbrough, which extends across the former North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, including York and Hull. The modern cathedral in the suburb of Coulby Newham had its foundation stone laid in 1985 and was consecrated in 1998. It replaced the earlier Church of St Mary in Sussex Street, Middlesbrough, which was dedicated in 1878. The Diocese of Beverley, which covered the whole of Yorkshire, was split in two that year, and St Mary's became the Cathedral of See of Middlesbrough with the consecration of its first bishop in 1879. The cathedral itself was not consecrated until 1911. That earlier building was destroyed in a fire in 2000 and the site is now covered by the new headquarters of Cleveland Police.


Middlesbrough Theatre
The Avenue
The theatre opened in 1957 as the independently-run Middlesbrough Little Theatre, but has been run by a local authority-led charitable trust since 1974, changing its name in 1996 to Middlesbrough Theatre. It still hosts community-based drama and musicals, but also attracts leading comedy, music and dance performances, tribute acts and pantomime.


Middlesbrough FC Boro play at The Riverside Stadium  Middlesbrough FC official website.


Teesside University
The university is based on a main campus close to the centre of Middlebrough. It traces its history back well over 80 years to when it was formed as Constantine College, where teaching began in 1929. It became Teesside Polytechnic in 1969, left local authority control 20 years later and gained university status in 1992. Since that time there has been massive investment in developing the campus. The university also operates a campus in Darlington, County Durham.

More information at the  Teesside University website.


Dorman Museum

Linthorpe Road
The museum provides a record of the industrial, social and geological history of the Middlesbrough area together with temporary exhibitions and educational resources.
 Dorman Museum web page.

Captain Cook Birthplace Museum

Stewart Park, Marton
Reknowned explorer Captain James Cook was born in 1728 in the village of Marton, around 3 miles south of what is now the larger Middlesbrough. Although the birthplace cottage is no longer there, a purpose-built museum, open until the end of October, tells the story of the world-famous Yorkshire navigator.
More details at the  Captain Cook Birthplace Museum web page.

Places to visit

Mima - Middlebrough Institute of Modern Art

Centre Square
One of the UK's leading galleries for modern and contemporary art and craft is in Middlesbrough town centre. Collections include American drawing, fine art, ceramics and jewellery. The Institute, run by Teeside University, regularly hosts visiting exhibitions and events. Admission is free.

Further details at the  MIMA website.

Tees Transporter Bridge

A178 Ferry Road
An iconic symbol of Middlesbrough, the Tees Transporter Bridge was opened in 1911. Its 259 metre span makes it the longest working transporter bridge in the world. The bridge provides a unique toll crossing between the Yorkshire and County Durham banks of the River Tees. The bridge has also become a visitor attraction with a glass viewing lift recently installed to improve access to the upper walkway. The bridge has featured in many films and TV programmes, probably most spectacularly in an episode of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, where the storyline saw it dismantled to be sold and re-erected in the USA.

North York Moors National Park

The North York Moors National Park starts just five miles away from the centre of Middlesbrough. Summer buses services run to the villages of the National Park from Middlesbrough bus station. Train services operate from Middlesbrough towards Whitby calling at stations at  Great Ayton, Battersby, Kildale, Commondale, Castleton Moor, Danby, Lealholm, Glaisdale, Egton and  Grosmont within the park. For further details about the National Park see our North York Moors page.



Zetland Road
Middlesbrough station is a grade II listed building where a £3m improvement has recently been completed, but where there are plans for extensive further work including a modern glass frontage and a third platform to accommodate a future London train. Trains currently operate from two through platforms, but the station is also a terminus for Transpennine Express services which operate across North Yorkshire to York, continuing through West Yorkshire to Manchester and Manchester Airport. The station is also a stop for Northern services operating from Saltburn-by-the-Sea via Middlesbrough to Darlington and Bishop Auckland. Services run from Middlesbrough to Hartlepool, Sunderland, Newcastle, the Metrocentre, Hexham and Carlisle. Trains also operate to Nunthorpe with some continuing through the North York Moors National Park to stations including  Grosmont on the way to Whitby.

Station managed by: Transpennine Express
Operators: Transpennine Express - Northern -

 Northern - Middlesbrough Station and departure information at Northern website.

Bus travel

Middlesbrough bus station, off Brentnall Street, has pedestrian access from Park Street, Newport Road and Gilkes Street. Buses operate to all nearby towns and villages. Services to Whitby and Scarborough cover destinations along the Yorkshire coast. Summer services also operate to the villages of the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. Coach services run by Megabus and National Express operate to destinations across the country.
Bus services also operate from street stops, mainly around Albert Road and Corporation Road.

Bus information and timetables for the Middlesbrough area are available at the  Connect Tees Valley website.

Road travel

The A19 dual-carriageway link to the A1(M) motorway provides very good links to most other parts of Yorkshire as well as journeys further south. The A19 also runs north from Middlesbrough to the A1 north of Newcastle. The A66 runs west from Middlesbrough to Darlington and towards the M6 at Penrith, the northern Lake District and Workington.

Durham Tees Valley

Durham Tees Valley Airport is 9 miles west-south-west of Middlesbrough where the main services are to Aberdeen and Amsterdam, with some planes to other destinatons, including Humberside and Jersey. The journey is about 11 miles by road, taking just under 20 minutes. For access by public transport, please note the Tees-side Airport station, half-a-mile from the terminal, is a 'ghost' station with the only service being one Sunday train each way. Dinsdale station, 2 miles away, is the nearest station with a regular stop, from where there is a route 12 bus to the airport. For more details see our Air travel page.

The HS2 effect

In 2019, our Yorkshire.guide study assessed cities and major towns throughout the Yorkshire region for the benefits HS2 would bring in travelling from Yorkshire to London under the proposals the Government then had to complete a section between the Midlands and Leeds in 2033. The line was also planned to link to existing lines into Sheffield and York. As well as London, Birmingham would have been an end destination. We looked at all cities that have a station and large towns across Yorkshire and assessed any benefits HS2 would bring. We applied three simple ratings (below) based on convenience and time saved over existing services. From November 2021 the Government has published its Integrated Rail Plan which no longer includes the HS2 line into Yorkshire as it instead announced £96bn of upgrades aimed at a more integrated rail network for the North and promising a system which would allow other towns and cities to be served more directly along the route.
White elephant: Takes the same time or longer than an existing service or saves less than 10 minutes while now causing a change of trains.
Coffee break: Saves 10 to 45 minutes. Time for a cup of coffee at your destination rather than on the train?
City slicker: Saves 45 minutes or more on existing service getting you to that all-important London meeting in good time.

Further details about our study can be found on The HS2 Effect page.

We've been fairly generous to HS2 in making the assessment. Where a change of trains is now needed, we have assumed that you are on the fastest train to the station where you change to HS2, that it arrives on time, you have 10 minutes to change to the HS2 platform and an HS2 train is waiting to depart at that time. No assessment is made of additional journey costs possible in connecting to or travelling on HS2. The assessment is made on journeys from Yorkshire to London with again no account taken of any convenience or inconvenience in arrival at London Euston rather than London King's Cross station.


Changing at York, there would potentially be a 29min time saving to London on the faster but longer route mileage of HS2.

Emergency services

Cleveland Police  Cleveland Police website.

Cleveland Fire Brigade  Cleveland Fire Brigade website.

North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust  North East Ambulance Service website.

Local government

Borough (unitary district) council

Middlesbrough Council

Middlesbrough Council has 45 councillors, representing 20 wards, and another election for a directly elected mayor.

Each ward is represented by between one and three councillors, who are elected for a four-year term.

Link to  Middlesbrough Council website.

The political composition after the May 2019 election was:

1 *23193
46 members | * = Elected mayor from separately administrered direct mayoral election.

Cross-county strategic authority

Tees Valley Combined Authority
Provides a decision-making authority on economic development, transport, infrastructure and skills in the four unitary boroughs (Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Cleveland) which for a time made up the county of Cleveland and now with the addition of the Darlington unitary authority. It is made up of representatives from each authority plus the chairman of Tees Valley Unlimited, the local enterprise partnership. A mayor for the Tees Valley Combined Authority was elected in May 2017. Of the boroughs involved, Middlesborough, Redcar and Cleveland and a part of Stockton-on-Tees (south of the River Tees) are part of the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire with the other areas part of the ceremonial county of Durham.
 Tees Valley Combined Authority website.

Police and Crime Commissioner

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland
Oversees Cleveland Police covering an area made up of the four borough (unitary district) councils of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees.
 Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland website.

Fire Authority

Cleveland Fire Authority
The 16-member fire authority is made up of elected members of each of the four borough (unitary district) councils of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees.
 Cleveland Fire Authority website.

National government region

North East England

Ceremonial county

North Yorkshire


1853-1889 Municipal borough.
1889-1968 County Borough of Middlesbrough (within the North Riding of Yorkshire).
1968-1974 County Borough of Teesside (which spanned the boundaries of the North Riding of Yorkshire and County Durham).
1974-1996 Middlesborough district council and county town of new artificially-created county authority of Cleveland (which included Teesside County Borough, additional districts from the North Riding of Yorkshire and the borough of Hartlepool, County Durham).

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