Wandering around the sites of the many pubs that once existed over the border.
St Hilda’s is the oldest part of Middlesbrough, for most of the life of modern Middlesbrough the area has been known as The Border or Over the Border. The border being the railway track that separates the area from the rest of the town.
The border always had a reputation for being a tough, close-knit community. A few years ago Middlesbrough council launched a redevelopment plan for the area which they renamed Middlehaven. Unfortunately the redevelopment involved the demolition of the existing housing estate and the removal of the small community that lived there.
Some new housing has been built in the area, the development has been labelled ‘The Urban Pioneer Site’. Urban pioneers and ‘Boho Zones’ on a site that has seen continuous habitation for over a thousand years. I wonder if any of the original border families will be given the opportunity to live in these houses, I wonder if they would want to.
The people of Middlesbrough speak with a deep pride and affection for their river but have very little access to it. Walking from the town centre it struck me that the town and its river are detached, other than the lifeless old dock, there is very little accessible river frontage within strolling distance of the town centre. There are two parks that look out over the river but both are hidden away in industrial zones.
The redevelopment of the land around the Middlesbrough Dock continues but the large derelict former industrial site that sits between the dock and the river does not seem to feature in any of the proposed plans for the area.
A new road is currently being built to improve access to the site and there is a plan to build more houses and a snow centre where perhaps former steel workers can start new careers as ski instructors.
Phillip Jones Griffiths – Indian tattooist at work in Middlesbrough. 1976.
Robin Dale’s photograph of the exterior of Sinbad’s tattoo parlour can be seen here