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 plaque funded by the Police Memorial Trust was recently unveiled to commemorate PC William Henderson, who died on 14 April 1893 when he was shot at close range by a man he was trying to disarm while trying to take into custody.
On 9th May, the verdict on John Harry Gould (33) was :- Wilful murder whilst insane. Prisoner to be detained during Her Majesty’s pleasure.
Murders were very rare at this time and news reports suggest it was only the second in Middlesbrough, after Mary Copper in 1884
A memorial to Private Tom Dresser was unveiled on 12th May 2017 to mark the centenary of the actions that saw him awarded the Victoria Cross.
The sculptor of the memorial was Brian Alabaster and it stands outside the Dorman Museum.
Tom Dresser was serving as a private in the 7th Battalion The Green Howards in the Battle of Arras and despite being shot twice, conveyed an important message from battalion headquarters to the front line trenches.
As well as the V.C. Tom was presented with a gold watch and 100 guineas by the people of Middlesbrough, he died 9th April 1982 and is buried in Thorntree Cemetery,
This sign is visible on Grange Road for a working mens club that was known as the “Nash Club”
The National Reserve Headquarters Limited was founded on 19 Apr 1913, I don’t know its exact closure date but accounts seem to exist until 2000.
Jack Hatfield won three medals at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm (no other British swimmer succeeded in winning an Olympic medal until 1964)
On returning from the games he was greeted by a crowd of 20,000.
The plaque is erected on the site of the Gilkes Street Baths