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Middlesbrough History, United Kingdom

Since Middlesbrough, UK did not begin to grow until the 19th century history up until that point is quite scarce.  What is known is that in 686 A.D. a monastery was built there.  Then, in 1119 the Church of St. Hilda of Middleburg was built.  The church was quite large and even had four alters so it is thought that it was probably very important at the time.  The name of the church was eventually changed to Middlesbrough Priory.  The monastery and church most likely went out of commission during the reign of Henry the VIII since he closed down most of the Catholic operations in England. 

Even though the original name of the town, Mydilsburgh, dates back to Saxon-times it is apparent by the number of Danish names in the area that the Viking invasion and settlement had a lot of influence on the area.  Despite the influence of two great cultures, though, Middlesbrough was still only a small hamlet with a population of 25 people and four farmhouses at the beginning of the 19th century. 

In less than 30 years, though, the potential of the town was finally realized by an industrialist named Joseph Pease.  He felt that the location of the town would make it a prime coal port.  He sent two of his agents, Quaker businessmen, to develop the town.  In 1829, they purchased one of the farms and then set to work building a market square and four streets. 

A year later, the Stockton and Darlington Railway were extended into Middlesbrough.  At that point, any problems that the men were having with the coal port and development of the town became obsolete.  In 1850, ironstone was discovered in the Eston Hills near Middlesbrough.  During that decade, the production of pig-iron in the area grew by ten times. 

The population grew rapidly and Middlesbrough was first recognized as a town in 1853 and then as a Parliamentary borough in 1867.  During the 19th century, Middlesbrough became known world-wide for its iron and steel.  Middlesbrough steel has been used in many famous bridges in the UK and in Australia, including the Sydney Harbor Bridge. 

Because of its industrial significance, Middlesbrough was the first major town in Britain to be targeted by German bombings during World War II.  The first bombing took place on May 25, 1940 and another minor bombing took place at the railway station in 1942.  Not surprisingly, it is also rumored that Middlesbrough was number two on the Soviet Union’s list of Cold War targets.  By that time, Middlesbrough was not only a major port and industrial town, but it also had a nuclear power plant.

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