Middlesbrough Town Hall was officially opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales on 23 January 1889, but our story begins long before that.
A competition to design the Town Hall building was launched in 1882, and in 1883, architect G.G. Hoskins’ ‘Law and Order’ design was chosen as the winner. Hoskins was almost entirely responsible for the architectural design of Victorian Darlington, and would have been well-known in the architecture community.
Not wasting any time, the new Town Hall’s foundation stone was laid on 24 October 1883.
Much like today, the Town Hall had two very different uses. Part of the building was given over to the municipal functions needed to keep the town running, and the other part established itself as a respected entertainment venue.
The Town Hall housed the Mayor and staff of the Middlesbrough Corporation (the forerunner to Middlesbrough Council), as well as the police station and cells, courtroom, library, water board office, and fire station.
It was very much at the heart of civic life. Hotels, pubs, offices and shops transformed the area into the commercial heart of Middlesbrough, which continues to this day.
Middlesbrough continued to expand, and many of the original functions of the Town Hall required new headquarters. The spaces that these functions left behind were repurposed where possible, often becoming new offices or storage, and many of them were lost to public life.
The Town Hall has also hosted many important civic functions over the years, including royal visits, galas, and university graduations.
Middlesbrough Town Hall’s reputation as a respected entertainment venue began with the grand concert hall, which featured a custom-built organ by the prestigious William Hill and Son.
Performers from across the world flocked to the Town Hall, including the Russian virtuoso pianist, Sergei Rachmaninov, who appeared not once but twice, in 1911 and 1939; Dame Nellie Melba; Johann Strauss, and Sir Edward Elgar with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Over the years, the Town Hall has also played host to many great names in music, including blues guitar legend Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Oasis, Bowie, The Clash, AC/DC, and Robbie Williams.
In April 2016, we closed our doors for almost two years to undertake a £7.7m refurbishment, funded by Middlesbrough Council and the Heritage Fund.
After operating as a pillar of the local community for over 125 years, the Town Hall has undergone extensive renovations, restoring rarely seen elements of the Grade II listed building, and allowing its rich narrative to continue.
The renovations have seen the grand concert hall restored to its former glory, as well as the opening up of fascinating areas that haven’t been seen by the public in decades. These areas include the old police cells, courtroom, and fire station, as well as the spectacular carriage driveway.
In celebration of Local History Month, we developed a series of short films celebrating people’s unique history with Middlesbrough Town Hall and its role in the heritage of the place we all call home.
Through a series of interviews, learn more about the rich and important history of this building and its unwavering identity since the first foundation stone was laid.