Cliff House was built as a summer residence by Sir Joseph Pease in 1844. Sir Joseph was heavily involved with establishing the Stockton and Darlington Railway and the Middlesbrough Estate.
This Pease Family involvement in the area predates the opening of the Upleatham Ironstone Mine at New Marske in 1851 and his brother Sir Henry’s historic visit to Saltburn in 1859 after which he developed that resort.
The 1911 census shows 6 members of the Pease Family still in residence with 6 members of staff.
With the closure of the Upleatham Ironstone mine in 1924, the Pease family influence may have decreased and Cliff House passes to the Holiday Fellowship in 1934, several postcards exist of it in that time.
Thomas Arthur Leonard developed outdoor holidays for working people through the Holiday Fellowship. He also helped to establish the Youth Hostels Association and the Ramblers’ Association.
The Holiday Fellowship apparently moved out around 1974 and after a period of dereliction the building became a retirement home in 1981.
At a time when the ‘Boro’ were yet to turn professional, Middlesbrough already had a sporting superstar capable of
drawing crowds of thousands to watch him compete. Yet today the name of the
champion rower Robert Watson Boyd is virtually forgotten.
Robert Watson Boyd was born in Gateshead on the 20th September 1854, the son of a wherryman (a coal carrying tug on the Tyne) he was already known as a talented rower by his teenage years.
The World Sculling Championship had existed since 1831 with the
champion taking on a challenger. This continued on the Thames and Tyne until 1876 when Australian born Edward Trickett returned
home and took his title with him, leaving much confusion as to who was the
English Champion. The Newcastle Daily Chronicle held an open regatta in March
1877 on the Tyne to decide, the event was won by Robert Watson Boyd who was crowned
‘Champion Sculler of England’
In May 1877 Boyd defended his title and defeated John
Higgins on the Thames by nearly a quarter of a
mile. Higgins however took the title away from him just a few months later in October
Boyd moved to Middlesbrough in 1878 when he married Hannah
Bell, whose parents ran the Alexandra
Hotel. Boyd became the
landlord when her parents retired.
In February 1880, Boyd raced William Elliott on the Tyne for £400 a-side and won easily. This would later
emerge to be Boyd’s final win, but at the time his good form allowed him to
challenge the world champion Edward ‘Ned’ Hanlan. This match happened in June
1880 in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.
He was unfortunately defeated, however this must still have been a huge event
for a man from Middlesbrough in 1880.
A further match against Hanlan was arranged on the Tyne in April 1882. Press coverage was intense, with the Evening Gazette recording a crowd of 2000 at Newport in February just to watch him train, then giving daily updates on his progress in the paper. Despite the months of training Boyd was again defeated and announced his retirement.
However he seems to have had a change of heart and the ‘Race
of the Tees’ is arranged for July 1882 against
Australian Elias C Laycock for £400 (this is something like £40,000 today). The
event drew thousands of spectators with excursion trains running to
Middlesbrough from Sheffield, Whitby and Newcastle. Sadly Boyd
lost again in front of the home crowd and this was his final race.
Boyd became landlord of the Shakespeare Hotel on Linthorpe Road, but his intense training which involved rapid weight loss seem to have taken a heavy toll on his body. He died on 1st July 1887 aged just 33, his cause of death was said to be ‘Brights Disease’ an old term which implies kidney failure. His grave can be found in Linthorpe cemetery carrying a pair of oars and his champions title.
Robert’s widow Hannah stayed on at the Shakespeare Hotel and remarried Samuel Suffell in 1889. So she lost two husbands within three years. Perhaps a little unusual that they are buried together without her !
In 1859 a borehole was started at Bolkow and Vaughans’ Middlesbrough Ironworks in search of a clean water supply for use in their boilers, instead of dirty water from the Tees. By 1862 at a depth of 1200ft a bed of rock salt was discovered that was almost 100ft thick.
The Cleveland Salt Company was formed in 1887 to exploit this resource for the fledgling chemical industry, Carl Bolckow nephew of Henry was one of the first board members, fresh water was pumped down into the salt bed which it dissolved, brine was then pumped out and evaporated in large pans to drive off the water and extract the salt.
The six original pans were initially fired by waste hot gas from the Middlesbrough Ironworks blast furnaces, this was expanded to thirteen pans in 1889. In 1920 the blast furnaces were blown out and the pans had to be converted to run on coal.
A total of four wells existed in the companies’ lifetime, The original No.1 was abandoned in 1893 due to a roof fall, No.2 and No.3 from 1888 and 1893 respectively operated until around 1938 when they started to become choked. So No.4 which had been an incomplete well started in 1896 was re-started, but was not completed until 1941 due to drilling problems and the outbreak of the Second World War.
In 1945 and 1946 there were roof falls in the remaining No.4 well after which the evaporation pans were never restarted. The company wound up in 1947 having produced 879,972 ton of salt in 59 years.
Making a few calculations, that suggests a volume of over 400,000 cubic meters, or 165 Olympic Swimming Pools. It’s an interesting thought that there must now remain a huge water-filled void under the area, most likely under the river and Transporter Bridge !
Today all that remains is the impressive red brick boundary wall on Vulcan Street dating from 1887. This became a listed building in 1988, however it’s not totally original as it was rebuilt from other interesting sections of the original building by the Cleveland Community Task Force, Middlesbrough Council and the Davy Corporation in 1982.
The rocks and beach at Redcar
have witnessed hundreds of shipwrecks and groundings over the years. So I took
a gamble when I purchased an unlabelled photo album at a local auction, hoping that
what I was looking at were previously unpublished photographs of one such
With just the sea in the background, the only clue was some Greek
writing visible on the back of the ship. “AΘHNA ΛIBANOY XIOΣ” which after a little research I was
able to translate as “Athina Livanos Chios”
Chios is the fifth largest
Greek island and was the birthplace of Greek shipping magnate Stavros Livanos. The
ship was named after Athina, his second daughter. Despite the Greek name and ownership,
the Athina Livanos was a 4824 ton steamer built by Grays of Hartlepool
with a yard number of 1065. The engines came from the Central Marine Engine
Works which was also part of Grays. She was launched on 3rd September
1936 and completed during October 1936 at a cost of £75,000.
The beaching at Redcar which was near Tod Point
took very soon afterwards on 28th February 1937. It was a major story at the
time as a Pathe News clip exists of the incident at http://www.britishpathe.com/video/coatham
Athina Livanos was just one of a series of ships built by
Grays for the Livanos Maritime Company. There were ships named Eugenie Livanos,
Evi Livanos, G.S. Livanos, George M. Livanos, Mary Livanos, Michael Livanos and
Theofano Livanos after other family members.
The Athina Livanos was lost on 29th November 1943 while
carry coal from Lourenco Marques in Mozambique
(now known as Maputo) to Beirut
She was torpedoed in the Gulf of Aden by the
Japanese submarine I-27, nine sailors and two passengers lost the lives.
Submarine I-27 was itself sunk in the Indian Ocean
on 12th February 1944 by HMS Paladin and HMS Petard but not before it had
attacked and sunk the SS Khedive Ismail killing 1,297 people.
The real-life Athina Livanos went on to be the first wife of
shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis who later married Jacqueline Bouvier
Kennedy. Her second husband was John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of
Marlborough, cousin of Sir Winston Churchill. Her final husband, before her
death in 1974, was another Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.
I originally wrote this article for the Evening Gazette back in July 2013.
This almost blank stone tells an interesting story, all that remains is the name R Sawtell, County Surveyor, the rest has been chipped away.
During 1940/1941 the threat of German invasion was great enough that many signs and markers were removed, to confuse the potential invaders.
Mr. Ronald Sawtell, is the county surveyor by 1934, and there are many news reports from 1934 complaining of the state of the previous bridge which must have prompted the current one to be built some time after that.
So the inscription is only likely to have been in place for a few years in the late 1930s. I have been unable to discover exactly what it said. Presumably it mentioned “Skelton” or “Apple Orchard Bridge” which would have helped invaders confirm their location.