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Tees Valley
Middlesbrough Town Hall and Albert Road.jpg
Middlesbrough Town Hall and Albert Road
Northern England location map.PNG
Red pog.svg
Teesside in England
Coordinates: 54°35′20″N1°11′15″W / 54.58889°N 1.18750°W / 54.58889; -1.18750 Coordinates: 54°35′20″N1°11′15″W / 54.58889°N 1.18750°W / 54.58889; -1.18750
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Region North East England
Ceremonial County County Durham
North Yorkshire
Historic County North Riding of Yorkshire
County Durham
Notable settlementsInitial:


County Borough of Teesside 1968
  Total376,633 [1]
Time zone GMT (UTC)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)
Postcodes TS1-8 & 10-27

Teesside ( /ˈtz.sd/ ) is a conurbation around the River Tees in the north of England. The name was initially used as a county borough in the North Riding of Yorkshire. It is common to see Teesside spelt incorrectly as "Teeside", with a single 's'. The term was initially for a smaller area but has came to be used for the larger built up area.


It has been known for heavy industry. The number of people employed in this type of work has declined, steel-making (British Steel) and chemical manufacture (Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI)) and have been replaced to a large extent by high technology science development and service sector roles.


1968–1974: County borough

Before Cleveland, the area (including Stockton-on-Tees) existed as a part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, due to most land being south of the Tees. Teesside was created due to Stockton-on-Tees being linked heavily with Thornaby (which had amalgamated with South Stockton/Mandale to form the Borough of Thornaby), Middlesbrough and Redcar by industry. [2]

Compared to the modern Teesside conurbation, the area was smaller, then excluding towns such as Hartlepool, Ingleby Barwick and Yarm, the latter two being in the Stokesley Rural District until Cleveland was created. The Teesside name is still used as a synonym for Tees Valley with most signage and local business retaining the name. [3]

1974–1996: Non-metropolitan county

The County of Cleveland was created in 1974, including the Hartlepool district and parts of the former North Riding of Yorkshire, including the former Teesside County Borough.

When Cleveland was abolished, Cleveland Police, along with other institutions covering the four boroughs, were retained. In 1998 the neighbouring Borough of Darlington also became an unitary authority subsequently aligning it with Teesside. The area had an estimated population of 567,600 in 2000.

From 1996: Conurbation

Map of the Teesside Built-up Area with subdivisions and local authority boundaries Map of the Teesside Built-up Area.png
Map of the Teesside Built-up Area with subdivisions and local authority boundaries

The Teesside Built-up Area (BUA), previously the Teesside Urban Area, identified by the ONS for statistical purposes had a population of around 376,633 according to the 2011 census [1] which is up 3% on the 2001 figure of 365,323, and had the following subdivisions:

Eaglescliffe (north) and Yarm (south) are counted as a separate Yarm urban area, separated by a narrow gap, which had a population of 19,184 [4] according to the 2011 census; up 5% from the 2001 figure of 18,335. [5] [6] Infilling development may join the two urban areas together. Marske-by-the-Sea is another separate Urban Area nearly contiguous with Redcar with a population of 8,282 [4] down 7% from the 2001 figure of 8,921. If this definition is taken into consideration, with the addition of the Eaglescliffe area and Marske, Teesside would have a population of approximately 492,954 people.

Nearby Hartlepool built-up area is sometimes grouped with the area, due to it previously being in Cleveland county. The Hartlepool area has an urban population of 88,855 [4] an increase of 3% from the 2001 figure of 86,085 and this can be referred to as the Teesside & Hartlepool Urban Area.

From 2016: Mayoralty

A combined authority under the name Tees Valley Combined authority, including the four former Cleveland boroughs and the Borough of Darlington, was set-up in 2016, twenty years after the abolition of Cleveland. Tees Valley had initially been a statistical sub-region of North East England. The authority is headed by a mayor, presently Ben Houchen.


Teesside industry is dominated by the commodity and integrated chemical producers in the North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC). These companies are based on three large chemical sites at Wilton, [7] Billingham and Seal Sands. These companies make products such as petrochemicals, commodity chemicals, fertilizers and polymers.


Seal Sands Seal Sands - geograph.org.uk - 38273.jpg
Seal Sands

Salt extraction for human consumption had taken place at Seal Sands since Roman times through the use of panning. This continued throughout the 20th century and left caverns which are now used as liquid/gas strorage facilities for the process industry. [8]

In 1859, rock salt deposits were discovered in Middlesbrough by Henry Bolckow and Vaughan while boring for water. This led to heavy chemical industry moving to the area.

Salt works were established at Haverton Hill in 1882 by the Bell Brothers. It was the first firm to begin large scale salt production in the area, this required some workers in from Cheshire. Salt-making interests of the Bell Brothers were bought by Brunner Mond & Co of Cheshire in 1890. Brunner Mond became a giant of the area's chemical-making in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

During the 20th century, salt extraction on the Tees's north bank (by aqueous hydraulic means) resulted in a number of underground salt cavities that are impervious to gas and liquids. Consequently, these cavities are now used to store both industrial gases and liquids by companies which are members of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC).

Today Huntsman Tioxide is based close to Greatham, operating one of the world's largest chemical plants for titanium dioxide manufacturing. It is a brilliant white pigment used in paints, Polo mints[ citation needed ], cosmetics, UV sunscreens, plastics, golf balls and sports field line markings.


In 1860 William James established an alkali company at Cargo Fleet and in 1869 Samuel Sadler also set up a factory nearby. Sadler's works produced synthetic aniline and alzarine dyestuffs and distilled tar. The introduction of the Solvay Process to make alkali in 1872 made nearby Tyneside alkali industry uneconomical but helped Teesside industry which was invigorated by the discovery of further salt deposits at Port Clarence near Seal Sands by Bell Brothers in 1874. [9]


Billingham ICI Chemical-plant Billingham ICI plant September 1970 No. 7 geograph-3436065-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg
Billingham ICI Chemical-plant

The Chemical Industry was established at Billingham in 1918 by the Government for the production of synthetic ammonia, with its intended use being the manufacture of munitions during the Great War. [10] The 700 acre Grange Farm at Billingham was chosen for the site. However, by the time the plant opened the war was over and its manufacturing techniques outdated. It was taken over by Brunner Mond in 1920 and manufactured synthetic ammonia and fertilisers. Brunner Mond merged with other large scale chemical manufacturers in 1926 to form Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).

Sulphuric acid and fertilisers

Teesside's first chemical works was when Robert Wilson produced sulphuric acid and fertilisers at Urlay Nook near Egglescliffe in 1833.

In 1928, anhydrite was mined from below Billingham for making sulphuric acid, a component for detergent and fertilizer manufacturing. [9] Ammonia and fertiliser works are operated by CF Fertilisers.

Plastics and nylon

Billingham's plastic nanufacturing began in 1934. [11] This was one of the earliest sites in the world where large-scale manufacture of these materials took place. Another chemical plant was established the following year to make oil and petrol from creosote and coal by a process called hydrogenation. In 1946 another large chemical works opened on Teesside at Wilton, [12] on the south side of the River Tees. Further lands were purchased by ICI in 1962 at Seal Sands, where land had been reclaimed from the sea, becoming the third large-scale chemical manufacturing site on Teesside. [9] Today all three Teesside chemical sites at Billingham, Wilton, and Seal Sands remain in use for large-scale chemical manufacture by the members of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), and plastics and polymers continue to be manufactured there by Lotte Chemicals(PET), SABIC(HDPE), Victrex(PEEK) and Lucite International(Perspex). Nylon 66 manufacture ceased on Teesside in 2008 with the Invista manufacturing unit closed.


Coke ovens used in chemical production at Billingham were replaced in 1962 by plants using the steam naphtha process, which enabled use of crude oil as feedstock for a process known as cracking. This proved to be a much cheaper way to produce ethylene, aromatics, petroleum derivatives and other chemicals such as ammonia. From 1964 to 1969 four large oil refineries were erected at the mouth of the Tees, two by Phillips Petroleum and one each by ICI and Shell. Their main purpose was to supply Billingham's chemical industry. [9] A 138-mile (222 km) pipeline was built in 1968 for the transport of ethylene and linked chemical works on Teesside with chemical plants at Runcorn. [13] Today, ConocoPhillips operate oil refinery sites while Ensus Energy and Harvest Energy have biorefineries, the latter two produce biodiesel and bioethanol as transport fuels. SABIC operate the ethylene cracker and the aromatics plants.

Metal works

John Marley, discoverer of the Cleveland Ironstone which led to the enormous growth of the iron industry in the North East of England John Marley, mining engineer (1823-1891).jpg
John Marley, discoverer of the Cleveland Ironstone which led to the enormous growth of the iron industry in the North East of England

Before 1846 Walbottle, Elswick, Birtley, Ridsdale, Hareshaw, Wylam, Consett, Stanhope, Crookhall, Tow-Law and Witton Park all had iron works [14] but the discovery of a rich seam of iron ore to the south of the region gradually drew iron and steel manufacture towards Teesside.

In 1850 iron ore was discovered in the Cleveland Hills near Eston to the south of Middlesbrough and Iron gradually replaced coal as the lifeblood of Eston. The ore was discovered by geologist John Marley and first utilised by John Vaughan, the principal ironmaster of Middlesbrough who along with his German business partner Henry Bolckow had already established a small iron foundry and rolling mill using iron stone from Durham and the Yorkshire coast, with the new discovery prompting them to build Teesside's first blast furnace in 1851. [14] Many more iron works followed, such as those built in the region by Losh, Wilson and Bell (see Sir Issac Lowthian Bell) who in 1853 were operating 5 furnaces in the region.

Watercolour painting of the Bell Ironworks under construction at Port Clarence, by John Bell, c. 1853 Bell Ironworks at Port Clarence Teesside watercolour by John Bell (1814-1886).jpg
Watercolour painting of the Bell Ironworks under construction at Port Clarence, by John Bell, c. 1853

The success of John Vaughan and Henry Bolckow's first blast furnace meant that by 1873 Middlesbrough was producing 2 million tonnes of pig iron a year. Iron was in big demand in Britain in the late 19th century, particularly for the rapid expansion of the railways. More and more blast furnaces were opened in the vicinity of Middlesbrough to meet this demand such that by the end of the century Teesside was producing about a third of the nation's iron output. [15] Middlesbrough, which became known by its nickname "Ironopolis", was visited in 1862 by then prime minister William Ewart Gladstone who said "This remarkable place, the youngest child of England's enterprise, is an infant, but if an infant, an infant Hercules" By the 1870s steel, a much stronger and more resilient metal, was in big demand and Middlesbrough had to compete with Sheffield as the major producer. In 1875 Bolckow and Vaughan opened the first Bessemer Steel plant in Middlesbrough and the River Tees then become known as "The Steel River" [9] leaving its old nickname "Ironopolis" behind. In 1881 Hugh Reid (Liberal politician) described how "The iron of Eston has diffused itself all over the world. it furnishes the railways of the world; it runs by neapolitan and papal dungeons; it startles the bandit in his haunt in cicilia; it crosses over the plains of Africa; it stretches over the plains of India. it has crept out of the Cleveland Hills where it has slept since Roman days, and now like a strong and invincible serpent, coils itself around the world" [16]

By 1929 the great depression began to effect Britain and the famous name of Bolckow-Vaughan merged with neighbour Dorman-Long & Co. who then became Britain's biggest iron and steel maker and employed 33,000 people. In 1954 the post-war boom saw Dorman-Long build a state of the art steelworks at Lackenby and then new blast furnaces at Clay Lane. 1967 saw Dorman-Long become part of the nationalized British Steel Corporation as production boomed in Britain and in 1979 the largest blast furnace in Europe was erected at BSC's new Redcar plant. This plant which was subsequently acquired and operated by Chorus, Tata Steel and then Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) who are still the plant operating today. [17]

British Steel Industrial Archive

The British Steel Collection, now housed at Teesside University, contains the records of over forty iron and steel companies based in the Teesside area of the North East of England and covers the period c. 1840–1970. The history of Teesside and its rapid growth during the 19th century is directly linked to the expansion of the railways from Darlington and Stockton towards the mouth of the Tees estuary and the subsequent discovery of ironstone in the Cleveland Hills which attracted iron companies to the area. The British Steel Collection archives the company records of iron and steel companies such as Bolckow & Vaughan, Bell Brothers, Cochrane & Co. Ltd., Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd., South Durham Steel & Iron Co. Ltd., Cargo Fleet Iron Company and Skinningrove Iron Co. Ltd. With records of associated institutions such as the Middlesbrough Exchange Co. Ltd. and the Cleveland Mineowners' Association also being preserved. [18]

Uses in local culture

Teesside continues to be used locally to refer to the entire urban area and the name can still be seen in the following uses:

Teesside University Teesside University showing the Waterhouse Building and Middlesbrough Tower.JPG
Teesside University

It has also been adopted for various other purposes as a synonym for the former county of Cleveland.

See also

Related Research Articles

North East England A region of England

North East England is one of nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. The region includes the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear; the ceremonial counties of County Durham and Northumberland; as well as the Teesside area in North Yorkshire. The largest settlement in the region is Newcastle upon Tyne.

River Tees East coast river of Northern England

The River Tees, in Northern England, rises on the eastern slope of Cross Fell in the North Pennines and flows eastwards for 85 miles (137 km) to reach the North Sea between Hartlepool and Redcar near Middlesbrough. The modern day history of the river has been tied with the industries on Teesside in its lower reaches, where it has provided the means of import and export of goods to and from the North East England. The need for water further downstream also meant that reservoirs were built in the extreme upper reaches, such as Cow Green.

Middlesbrough Town in North Yorkshire, England

Middlesbrough is a large town in North Yorkshire, England. It is on the River Tees's southern bank, west of Redcar and east of Stockton-on-Tees. The Borough of Middlesbrough is governed from the town.

Redcar and Cleveland Unitary authority area in North Yorkshire, England

The Borough of Redcar and Cleveland is a borough and unitary authority area in the North East of England, within the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire. The main settlements are Redcar, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Guisborough, and towns and villages of Brotton, Eston, Grangetown, South Bank, Kirkleatham, Loftus and Skelton. It had a resident population of 135,200 in 2011.

Thornaby-on-Tees Town and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England

Thornaby-on-Tees, commonly referred to as Thornaby, is a market town and civil parish in the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, England. It had a population of 24,741 according to the 2011 census, in the Teesside built-up area. It lies south of the River Tees.

Borough of Stockton-on-Tees Unitary Authority Borough in England

The Borough of Stockton-on-Tees, commonly called Stockton Borough, is a local authority and borough which extends from County Durham to North Yorkshire. It is part of the Tees Valley in Northern England. The main town is Stockton, which lies on the north bank of the River Tees. In the 2011 census, the town and borough had a population of 82,880 and 191,600 respectively.

Billingham Town in England

Billingham is a town and civil parish in the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, England. The town is on the north side of the River Tees and is governed by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council. The settlement had previously formed its own borough but was overshadowed by its neighbour. The town had a population of 35,165 according to the 2011 Census.

Tees Valley Region on the River Tees in North East England

Tees Valley is a combined authority area in the north of England around the River Tees. The combined authority was established in 2016, after public consultation in 2015. The area is not a geographical valley.

Haverton Hill Human settlement in England

Haverton Hill is an area within the borough of Stockton-on-Tees and ceremonial county of County Durham, England. Once considered a part of Billingham, Haverton Hill was once a thriving industrial community which has suffered significant depopulation since the 1960s as a result of pollution.

Dorman Long & Co was a major steel producer later diversifying into bridge building. Dorman Long was once listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Grangetown, North Yorkshire Town in North Yorkshire, England

Grangetown is a town in the borough of Redcar and Cleveland, North Yorkshire, England.

Teesport Port in United Kingdom

Teesport is a large sea port located in the unitary authority of Redcar and Cleveland, in the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire, Northern England.

The Teesside Football League was a football competition based in northern England. Established in 1891, it was dissolved in 2017 when it merged with the Eskvale & Cleveland League to form the North Riding Football League. At the end of its existence the league was placed at level 11 of the English football league system, with clubs being promoted to Division Two of the Northern League.

John Vaughan (ironmaster)

John Vaughan, known as Jacky, born in Worcester on "St Thomas' Day" in 1799, the son of Welsh parents. He worked his way up the iron industry, becoming an ironmaster and co-founder of the largest of all the Victorian iron and steel companies, Bolckow Vaughan. Where Henry Bolckow provided the investment and business expertise, Vaughan contributed technical knowledge, in a long-lasting and successful partnership that transformed Middlesbrough from a small town to the centre of ironmaking in Britain.

Wilton Castle, North Yorkshire

Wilton Castle is an early 19th-century mansion, built on the site of a medieval castle, now converted into luxury residential apartments, situated at Wilton, in Redcar and Cleveland, North Yorkshire, England. It is a Grade II listed building.

Teesside Steelworks

The Teesside Steelworks is a large steelworks that formed a continuous stretch along the south bank of the River Tees from the towns of Middlesbrough to Redcar in North Yorkshire, England. At its height there were 91 blast furnaces within a 10 mile radius of the area. By April 1993 there was only one left on Teesside. Opened in 1979 and located near the mouth of the River Tees, the Redcar blast furnace was the second largest in Europe.

Teesside EfW

Teesside Energy from Waste plant is a municipal waste incinerator and waste-to-energy power station, which provides 29.2 megawatts (MW) of electricity for the National Grid by burning 390,000 tonnes of household and commercial waste a year. It is located on the River Tees at Haverton Hill, east of Billingham in North East England. Developed and built by NEM, a subsidiary of Northumbrian Water, the initial plant replaced the Portrack Incinerator and opened in 1998. Subsequently the facility became part of SITA, now Suez.

Tees Valley Metro

The Tees Valley Metro was a project to upgrade the Tees Valley Line and sections of the Esk Valley Line and Durham Coast Line to provide a faster and more frequent service across the North of England. In the initial phases the services would have been heavy rail mostly along existing alignments. The later phase would have introduced tram-trains to allow street running. The project was backed by all the local authorities through which the system would have run, the authorities are: Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-On-Tees. Support was also forthcoming from the Department for Transport. The project has been cancelled due to lack of funding. Focus is now on Northern Rail franchise. Of the original "Tees Valley Metro" project, only the construction of a new station at James Cook University Hospital has come to fruition.

County Borough of Teesside

Teesside was, from 1968 to 1974, a local government district in northern England. It comprised a conurbation that spans both sides of the River Tees from which it took its name. Teesside had the status of a county borough and was independent of the county councils of the North Riding of Yorkshire, and County Durham. The entirety of Teesside was represented by the Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding, even those areas north of the Tees in Durham.

Bolckow, Vaughan

Bolckow, Vaughan & Co., Ltd was an English ironmaking and mining company founded in 1864, based on the partnership since 1840 of its two founders, Henry Bolckow and John Vaughan. The firm drove the dramatic growth of Middlesbrough and the production of coal and iron in the north-east of England in the 19th century. The two founding partners had an exceptionally close working relationship which lasted until Vaughan's death.


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