Teesside Steel – The Final Years

Teesside Steel

Teesside’s steel industry was born in the 1850’s and died in October 2015. Steelworker Mike Guess took it upon himself to record the final few years of iron and steel making on Teesside.  ..the mothball, restart and eventual closing of iron and steelmaking on Teesside was something that I was not going to fail to record. It was almost an obligation to future generations..

As well as Mike’s beautiful book there is currently a new exhibition, Steel Stories at the Kirkleatham Museum.

Viva Talbot

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Think on..


The current government had an opportunity to save the blast furnace

Blast 1

they chose not to take it.

The blast

Unemployment across the Tees Valley is double the national average at 3.9%. The number of jobless youth is higher, at 5.2%, compared with the national average of 2.3%. And Middlesbrough has more deprived areas than any other local authority in the country, with almost half of its 42 neighbourhoods among the poorest 10% nationally. Source


MIMA Exhibition -Teesside World Exposition of Art and Technology

Teesside World Exposition of Art and Technology is an urgent reaction to the recent closure of Redcar’s steelworks and a bid to make a positive contribution to the future of industry in the North East region.

Capturing the industrial character of Teesside, the exhibition shows how it has formed, from the extraction of raw materials to production, as well as the import/export of goods.

The gallery features the activity of various regional companies alongside a makerspace, archival material drawn from Teesside Archives, the Central Library and the Dorman Museum, and works from artists such as Aikaterini Gegisian, Adrián Melis, David Mulholland, David Watson, Eva Fàbregas, Farid Rasulov, Goldin+Senneby, Hackney Flashers, Mikhail Karikis, MVRD, Norman Appleton, Philip Boville and Len Tabner.

Teesside has always been defined by its industry and has history of making. The eminent past and economic future of the area is explored through historical documents and artefacts, contrasted with a showcase of new industrial technology and works by artists who have portrayed Teesside’s steelworks.

The Exhibition runs until the 9th of October

Link to MIMA


The Extraordinary Gertrude Bell

A Story of adventure, discovery and political intrigue

Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar

28th May – January 2017


Meet Gertrude Bell – a North East born archaeologist, diplomat, linguist, writer & mountaineer who in 1921 advised Winston Churchill on the country that became Iraq, and helped shape the Middle East after World War 1. Gertrude Bell spent a large part of her childhood in Redcar residing at the family home – Red Barns in Kirkleatham Street, Redcar.


The exhibition features loans from the British Museum, Imperial War Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Geographical Society.


The Bell Family, Redcar & Werner Herzog


Gertrude Bell was the daughter of the fabulously rich industrialist, Sir Hugh Bell. The Bells were a family of industrialists with interests in mining, iron and steel, chemicals and railways. Sir Hugh asked his friend Philip Webb to design a family home to be built in Redcar, the result was Red Barns. Built in the pre-Raphaelite style with Webb as the building’s architect and the interiors designed by Edward Burne-Jones. Webb also designed the Bell Brother’s office building on Zetland Road in Middlesbrough, his one and only commercial building.


Sir Hugh’s first wife and Gertrude’s mother, Maria Shield, died in 1871. When Gertrude was four years old, Sir Hugh married Florence Olliffe . Florence was described as ‘an ugly, clever, nice woman, a linguist and playwright who belonged to the literary coteries of both London and Paris, as a child she had sat on Dicken’s knee’. In 1907 Florence published a book entitled At The Works. The book was a social investigation into the lives of the working people of Middlesbrough and provides a rare insight into the social, economic and cultural conditions of Victorian working-class Middlesbrough.


Gertrude Bell grew up to be one of the first women at Oxford and left with the highest marks in her year. After university she became a renowned traveller, a colonial administrator, an Arabist, a high-Tory, British intelligence spy, Archaeologist, anti-feminist and extrovert powerhouse. She travelled on a camel throughout Arabia, Mesopotania and the Middle East, alone except for Bedouin tribesmen. She published huge works about Syria, which she translated from the Persian. She was instrumental in the setting up of the modern state of Iraq and also founded the Great Museum of Antiquities in Baghdad.


Winston Churchill, Gertrude Bell & T E Lawrence


The life of Gertrude Bell has been made into a epic biographical film, Queen of the Desert, which is due for release this year. The film was written and directed by the wonderful Werner Herzog. Nicole Kidman will play the part of Gertrude.