In the early 1800s, the area was largely agricultural and rural, but the growth of the iron and coal industries resulted in the development of the area into a port and new town. Steel production and shipbuilding began in the late 1800s and remained associated with the town until the late twentieth century. Today, the area is home to several universities and digital enterprise sectors. For more information, read our guide to the history of Teesside.
The town of Middlesbrough was founded in 1764 and was incorporated on 21 January 1853. The town was initially a county borough of North Yorkshire, but in 1853 it was split between the counties of County Durham and Yorkshire. It was historically a centre for heavy industry, such as steel and iron making. Today, the region is primarily rural, and is dominated by pharmaceutical manufacturing and new science businesses.
In the 18th century, Teesside was home to several iron works. Birtley and Ridsdale had iron ore, and the town's borough became a county borough. In 1968, the County Borough of Northern Durham and Northumberland merged with Middlesbrough to form the County Borough of Teesside. After the fusion, the Council renamed the region Cleveland, and made Middlesbrough the unitary authority.
The chemical industry has been a major part of the economy in the area. In the 1800s, Billingham was home to one of the first chemical plants in the world. It produced petrol and oil from coal using a hydrogenation process. In 1962, ICI purchased the land near the River Tees, which had previously been underwater. The reclaimed land was used for the plant. In the 1990s, the area was flooded.
In the late nineteenth century, the local steel and chemical industries were the dominant industries in the region. Until the late 1990s, Imperial Chemical Industries operated three different chemical sites in Teesside. This company no longer exists, but many of the sites in Teesside are still operating today. The company also operated the Newport Lifting Bridge, which was the first vertical lift bridge in England. In 1935, the city hosted the opening of the Tyne-Borough railway.
The town was a small trading port before the discovery of iron ore in the Cleveland Hills, south of Middlesbrough. The town soon renamed itself Irontown. The city's first ironworks was built on the site. In 1873, the first large-scale ironworks in Teesside were located near Port Clarance. A few years later, the company had already moved to Teesside.
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