In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Middlesbrough like this:
Middlesbrough, parl. and mun. bor., par., township, and river port, North-Riding Yorkshire, on right bank of Tees estuary, 3 miles NE. of Stockton and 239 from London by rail - par., 3216 ac. (403 water), pop. 55,367; township, 1080 ac. (116 water), pop. 36,631; parl. bor., pop. 72,601; mun. bor., 2731 ac., pop. 55,934; 4 Banks, 4 newspapers. Middlesbrough is an almost unparalleled example of rapid growth. In 1831 its population was 383; in 1841 it was 5709; in 1851, 7893; in 1861,19,416; in 1871, 39,415. ...
It was incorporated in 1853, and enfranchised in 1867. It dates from 1829, when its site was occupied by a solitary farmhouse, representing the ancient priory of St Hilda; in that year its erection as a port for the shipment of coal was suggested by the construction of the Stockton and Darlington Ry., which would bring the great coal fields of Durham into easy access. The first ship was freighted with coal at Middlesbrough in June 1831. Originally founded as a coal-exporting port, Middlesbrough quickly became, with the discovery of the mineral riches of the Cleveland district, the principal seat of the English iron trade. This trade dates from 1840, when the works of Messrs Bolckow & Vaughan were established on the banks of the Tees. There are now numerous blast furnaces and large iron and steel works; there are also shipbuilding yards, chemical works, potteries, and a salt trade. The docks were opened in 1842; in 1872 they were extended from 9 to 12 ac., with 1700 ft. of quays, and accommodation for vessels of 3000 tons. (For shipping statistics, see Appendix.) The town is well laid out, and has many handsome public buildings; the station on the North-Eastern Ry. is one of the finest in the north of England; a park, of 72 ac., was presented to the town by Mr H. W. F. Bolckow, the first mayor and the first member of the borough. Middlesbrough returns 1 member to Parliament; its parliamentary limits were extended in 1885.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Middlesbrough has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Middlesbrough. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Middlesbrough and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Middlesbrough in North Riding | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 23rd May 2013
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