Memories and unseen photographs of Middlesbrough in the 1970s and 1980s have inspired a new book by historian and Heritage Unlocked consultant Dr Tosh Warwick.

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Memories of
Middlesbrough in the 1970s and 1980s brings together unique John Severs’ photographs, historical images and community memories to shed new light on two turbulent decades for Teesside. Published by Heritage Unlocked and designed by Peter Hinton Design, the book features over 100 images of seventies and eighties Middlesbrough, Cargo Fleet and South Bank. Themes explored include lost historical buildings, famous pubs, high street names of yesteryear, Cannon Street and St Hilda’s, Teesside’s industrial heritage and sporting memories.

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The book follows on from John Severs sharing photographs of the former Newport Ironworks site with Dr Warwick for the Tees Advanced Manufacturing Park (TeesAMP) history project led by Heritage Unlocked. Published for the first time in Memories of Middlesbrough in the 1970s and 1980s, Severs’ snapshots are accompanied by historical research and community memories of places including British Steel, Boro matches, the Madison, Masham, Romer Parrish’s, Shaw’s Foundry and South Bank. Material from Teesside Archives, Middlesbrough Libraries, local newspapers, the late historian Paul Stephenson, photographers Tom Collins and Paul Thompson, and other private collections also appears in the new paperback and e-book publication.

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Dr Tosh Warwick said: “People are fascinated by Middlesbrough’s history and the popularity of social media groups such as Memories of Middlesbrough highlight both the widespread interest in sharing memories and seeing other people’s photographs of our area. The people, places and perspectives provided by community images and stories are often missing from history books that often focus on Victorian Middlesbrough, civic events and sometimes represent sanitised depictions of the past”.

“Focusing on two turbulent decades, Memories of Middlesbrough in the 1970s and 1980s features recollections of local people alongside photographs that capture everyday life and the realities of deindustrialisation, demolition of historic buildings and the loss of communities in living memory.”

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John Severs added: “I served an engineering apprenticeship at ICI and at that time there were a number of plants built in the 1920s and these helped inspire my interest in industrial heritage. My father bought me a camera when I was 17 or 18 and I started taking photos of Cleveland ironstone mines and Middlesbrough’s old buildings. It is nice to be able to look back at these old photographs as reminders of how things once were.”

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As part of his latest book project, Dr Warwick has collaborated with Teesside Archives to create a number of legacies inspired by the book. Many of the photographs in Memories of Middlesbrough in the 1970s and 1980s are to be added to Archives’ collections so that researchers, archives users and education groups can access the material. Digital copies of the book will be made freely available to schools and colleges alongside new education resources. Many of the images and memories from the book will also feature in new trails in-development by Heritage Unlocked with Middlesbrough Council’s public health team.

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Memories of Middlesbrough in the 1970s and 1980s is available to order from, local bookshops and cultural venues (subject to COVID-19 restrictions).
By Dr Tosh Warwick
Image 1: Memories of Middlesbrough in the 1970s and 1980s - Book Cover (Heritage Unlocked)
Image 2: The Masham Hotel in Summer 1987 (Teesside Archives)
Image 3: John Severs' collection include since demolished iron and steel works
Image 4: The Royal Exchange (John Severs)
Image 5: Shopper and Child (Teesside Archives)
Image 6: A turbulent two decades for Middlesbrough FC (Middlesbrough FC)