HERITAGE - 4: PERSONAL LOOK INTO THE PAST, Three Favourite Museums - Plus One 'Bonus'

My choices are a cross-section, large and small, north and south, beginning on home territory: Middlesbrough, Teesside

Set in the spacious Albert Park, off Linthorpe Road, the Dorman Museum with its distinctive dome and red brickwork
Set in the spacious Albert Park, off Linthorpe Road, the Dorman Museum with its distinctive dome and red brickwork | Source
Another view of the front from Albert Park, the Dorman Museum established by industrialist and iron-master Sir Arthur Dorman whose steel works - co-owned with Albert deLande Long - stretched from and overshadowed South Bank to Grangetown.
Another view of the front from Albert Park, the Dorman Museum established by industrialist and iron-master Sir Arthur Dorman whose steel works - co-owned with Albert deLande Long - stretched from and overshadowed South Bank to Grangetown. | Source

Launched last year, an exhibition of artefacts and memorabilia to mark the onset of the 'Great War'. 'It'll all be over by Christmas' was the favourite phrase. It wasn't and the war was brought fairly close to Middlesbrough when both Hartlepool and Scarborough were shelled from the sea. See what was put on show, it might be linked to your family history

Founts of Knowledge

Dorman Museum on Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough - the world in a building
Dorman Museum on Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough - the world in a building
The money behind the museum came from insustry - this is Dorman Long Works between Grangetown and South Bank east of Middlesbrough, established by Arthur Dorman and Albert de Laude in 1875
The money behind the museum came from insustry - this is Dorman Long Works between Grangetown and South Bank east of Middlesbrough, established by Arthur Dorman and Albert de Laude in 1875
Local interest - local boy, statue of Brian Clough at Dorman Museum
Local interest - local boy, statue of Brian Clough at Dorman Museum
Stockton & Darlington's North Road Station frontage, the museum side
Stockton & Darlington's North Road Station frontage, the museum side
Locomotion No 1, the locomotive that hauled the inaugural train in September, 1825 - this is the replica built in the 1970's
Locomotion No 1, the locomotive that hauled the inaugural train in September, 1825 - this is the replica built in the 1970's
Stockton & Darlington carriage end with driver's 'perch' - early passenger workings were horse-drawn
Stockton & Darlington carriage end with driver's 'perch' - early passenger workings were horse-drawn
Timothy Hackworth's 'San Pareil', the original at Shildon Railway Centre along the road from the NRM's LOCOMOTION exhibits
Timothy Hackworth's 'San Pareil', the original at Shildon Railway Centre along the road from the NRM's LOCOMOTION exhibits
Shildon's 'overspill' from the NRM at the LOCOMOTION site in Shildon - recognise the  nearest engine? (Helps if you saw 'The Railway Children' at Waterloo)
Shildon's 'overspill' from the NRM at the LOCOMOTION site in Shildon - recognise the nearest engine? (Helps if you saw 'The Railway Children' at Waterloo)
4472 'Flying Scotsman' outside the Peter Allen building at the NRM
4472 'Flying Scotsman' outside the Peter Allen building at the NRM
'Aerolite' at the NRM - pioneer locomotive engineering, rebuilt twice. This engine latterly hauled the inspection saloon on the NER and LNER in the 1920's
'Aerolite' at the NRM - pioneer locomotive engineering, rebuilt twice. This engine latterly hauled the inspection saloon on the NER and LNER in the 1920's
Another pioneer at Shildon - Wilson Worsdell electric locomotive employed on the Quayside line at Newcastle on Tyne
Another pioneer at Shildon - Wilson Worsdell electric locomotive employed on the Quayside line at Newcastle on Tyne
The British Museum on Great Russell Street, London WC1, close to the West End
The British Museum on Great Russell Street, London WC1, close to the West End
Part of the Staffordshire Hoard, found on farmland near Tamworth (dating back to Penda's time in the 7th Century)
Part of the Staffordshire Hoard, found on farmland near Tamworth (dating back to Penda's time in the 7th Century)
The iconic Sutton Hoo parade helmet - thought to be Raedwald's from the 7th Century
The iconic Sutton Hoo parade helmet - thought to be Raedwald's from the 7th Century

I have at least three museums I could name, could I push the figure to four? Starting with the Dorman Museum in the park on Linthorpe Road in Central Middlesbrough, TS5 6LA ( www.dormanmuseum.co.uk. ) on account of the range of exhibits I found when I first visited as a boy back in the 1950s.

The range has been modified since then, as I noticed when I visited with my cousin Paul a few years or so ago, but to a child it brings the world in one building. Reminders are numerous of the geological origins of the region, and further the many deposits, the geological 'bounties' of ironstone and potash. The workable ironstone is finished, but recent finds of potash at Boulby along the coast have extended the industrial life of the region... It's all in there. Outside the museum, in the park is a fairly recent statue of Brian Clough - pron. 'Cluff' - one of Middlesbrough's football greats (another one was Don Revie, born a few streets away from 'Cloughie' who managed Leeds United before going on to manage England and the UAE. 'Cloughie' took over from him at Elland Road for forty days before passing on to Nottingham Forest F C). I first watched him play Centre Forward when I was about eleven years old.

There are a few museums scattered around Teesside connected with the history of Middlesbrough and its environs. The James Cook Birthplace Museum at Stewart Park, Marton; The Kirkleatham Old Hall Museum along the Redcar road just east of Redcar; The Tom Leonard Mining Museum at Skinningrove down the coast from Redcar and there are the Captain Cook Museums down the steep hill (1:4) at Staithes off the Whitby road and at Whitby itself;

Secondly the North Road Station Museum at Darlington in southern County Durham (first opened in 1975 on one side of the second S&DR station of the same name) was refurbished, roof repairs carried out and formally re-opened on May 24th, 2010 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Exhibits include wagons, carriages and locomotives of the S&DR, a model of the original line and lots of things for kids to explore... Upstairs is the Ken Hoole Centre, a reference collection of North Eastern Railway material set up in the railway author's memory by the North Eastern Railway Association, of which I am a member. Entry to the museum is free to members of NELPG (see below), and there is a pleasant, light and airy cafe at the end of the nearest platform with access to those wishing to take their drinks outside to the open air part of the platform. A drinks machine is available to those wishing to take their own food, with tables adjacent to the platform.

Across the road is the workshop of the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG), of which I am also a member. There are several locomotives owned by the group, www.nelpg.org.uk/ including the British Railways built K1 2-6-0 that doubles as 'Lord of the Isles' on the West Highland,line in summertime (Mallaig-Fort William). 62005 is currently undergoing work at Carnforth; and then there is the workshop of the A1 Locomotive Trust, www.a1steam.com who built a Peppercorn A1 Class locomotive (to which I contributed monthly funds for the construction) from scratch with boiler produced for them by the Meiningen works in eastern Germany. Arthur Peppercorn's widow Dorothy Mather unveiled the engine here on December 13th, 2008. Also connected with the locomotive is Peter Townend, the last shedmaster of Top Shed in the 1960s;

Third is the National Railway Museum on Leeman Road ( www.nrm.org.uk ) near the main station in York, with out-stationed exhibits at Shildon (north of Darlington) near the Timothy Hackworth Victorian Railway Centre. Essentially there are three sites, the York museum being split by Leeman Road with access between them by an under-road footway. One one side is what was part of York's British Railways locomotive depot (50A), with 'Mallard', 'Flying Scotsman' and 'Green Arrow' amongst the array of preserved engines. There's too much to see in one day, but at least you don't pay to access it. They do appreciate donations, if you're minded to hand over cash to continue the good works. Across Leeman Road is the former goods depot, the Peter Allen Centre with its ramps, platforms and stock arranged in 'trains' behind vintage locomotive stock. Queen Victoria's and Queen Elizabeth's railway carriages are here, too. There are cafes in both buildings when you tire of trooping around, but you can also eat your own sandwiches in the forecourt of the Peter Allen building. One thing I always do when I get into the main hall of the museum is check out progress on the 'O' Gauge model railway. There is a viewing platform for children or those in wheelchairs to watch the trains running. A schedule is available for those wishing to look in, and at one end is a CCTV camera showing the movements behind the scenes for the controller. Models fill a set of cases at the other end of the layout, showing the progress of railway stock model-making. At regular intervals during the day the large 70' turntable is operated by museum staff, showing how the turntable is operated (it was in operation as a working steam shed in the mid-1960s when steam finally finished on BR Eastern Region), and replaced a smaller turntable to take the Pacifics such as the A1, A2, A3 and A4 classes - for a short time in the late 1940s/early 1950s, before 'Flying Scotsman' was rebuilt to A3 it was re-classified A10 to make way for Arthur Peppercorn's new class A1;

Lastly, the British Museum in Bloomsbury, Central London ( www.britishmuseum.org ) Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG. My target for the Sutton Hoo exhibition, the illuminated manuscript of 'Beowulf' and there are countless items connected with invasions and settlement from NW Europe in English history. For those interested in Anglo-Saxon history there are rewards aplenty. Aside from the Sutton Hoo exhibits, the museum currently holds exhibits artefacts from the Staffordshire Hoard, found in a field near Tamworth by a man with a metal detector in the 1990s. Theories abound as to the origins of the finds. I have read a convincing report that these artefacts were given to Penda and his Welsh followers by King Eadwy of Northumbria, younger brother of King Oswald - killed in Shopshire by Penda - to stop them rifling in Eadwy's kingdom. The Welsh princes broke off from Penda's force with their share of the loot and went home. Penda was defeated and killed near modern-day Leeds when they were unable to ford a river. The Northumbrians fell on them, but some less heavily laden Mercians escaped but were tracked down near where they had buried their loot and killed. There is an online tour of the Anglo-Saxon exhibits with notes for teachers, so you don't even need to physically go there (I think it helps to see them 'in the flesh). Need I say more?

A collection of railway travel posters from the great artists of the 1930s through to Terence Cuneo in the 1960s - part of the many things associated with the national collection at the Railway Museum, York - incentive to see for yourself

To sum up...

I hope you enjoyed reading this write-up on the three museums, three that I've been back to several times - each. The Dorman Museum, established from the proceeds of industry was the first one I went to, living nearby in Grangetown and then Eston - about six miles away to the east.

The British Museum is closest of the three to where I live in London, on the Central Line about twenty minutes ride away west from the largely rebuilt Stratford Station in East London. I tend to gravitate towards the Sutton Hoo and Mediaeval English exhibits, although I have been known to 'stray' towards other areas than Room 41.

The Head of Steam exhibition at North Road Darlington and both Shildon sites are fairly recent for me, since I spent more time in the Teesside area, Being able to drive was a bonus, giving me time to visit both locations in one afternoon with time to look around instead of looking at my watch all the time, thinking of train timetables.


The Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, Sutton Hoo... you've seen them in the flesh. Keep the memory alive with this publication. Learn something more about your favourite artefacts in the museum, delve into their background and get more enjoyment from the experience.

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Comments 15 comments

awordlover profile image

awordlover 4 years ago

I loved this hub! I sent you an email earlier, please check it out. I meant it in kindness, so please take it that way. I love following you, because I know you will take me to wonderful places to visit, history to dream on, and provocative historical figures. :-)

Voted up, awesome, interesting.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Fact is often stranger than fiction, and can take you where fiction falls on its face. Still, if it's words that do the leading, hitch up and let yourself get towed!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Heck yeah, and double yeah on the notion of facts being stranger than fiction!!!

I'm more for the more ancient stuff than the early industrial age stuff, and of course the U.K. is bound to be so full of the ancient kind of thing in it's museums that I'd fall over from the viewing of it all.

We just don't have that much of that kind of ancient over here - there's some very old Native American things to be seen, and probably a lot more than I know of...but as a common "white boy" I tend to go more for the ancient European things. Of course we long time Americans such as myself have some Native blood in us - I sure do, but you can't see it from looking at me.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Don't forget, your heritage goes back beyond the May-flower. That was just the tip of the stack. The folk who sailed out on her came from Devon (Wessex), East Anglia and the London area. If you go back far enough you come to a colony in the Rift Valley in East Africa that we all go back to. Is that history enough? Anyway, the trans-American 'native' tribes originated in Asia and migrated by way of the ice-pack between Asia and Alaska. Some didn't move any further and you can see their origins from looking at their faces... Not a lot different from the Chinese or Koreans, when you get right down to it... Stocky, like the Apache. That's not what your average museum will tell you, just your eyes.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Oh I know!!!! I'm mostly a British Isles blooded sort, I've never known of my ancestry being traced back beyond there - but of course it's inevitable that all of ours goes and comes from places unsuspected, really, our heritage is always that of the entire human race and it's history!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Got it in one - but try to convince some folk and you'll wear your smile in your briefs! Just go back to the Vikings and they'll be happy to tag along. A 'Shaw' was a place of worship for our pagan ancestors. You'll see places on maps mostly of northern England with names like Shaw Mills in N. Yorks, Shaw near Manchester, Shawbury in Shropshire etc. How about the actor Robert Shaw in 'Jaws' and 'From Russia with Love'(he's never been in a film with Burt Lancaster, though, has he)?


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Really??? I had no idea about that! I just thought that "Shaw" was a Scottish Clan. I'd also read that Shaw folks became Irish due to Scotland and England going to war, and some Scot Clans sending the women, children, and elderly to Ireland for safety during those times.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

When the impoverished Norman knight William de Clare ('Strongbow') left his Welsh properties to move on Ireland by invitation from the king of Leinster in the 12rh Century - in the reign of Henry II - he probably took a lot of Englishmen with him. Subsequently, many more migrated from the north of England to the 'Pale' (Dublin) to up the ante in the Protestant stakes. Many went from SW Scotland to Ulster for the same reason in the reign of James I (James VI of Scotland). The Shaws could as easily have gone with either movement, but I'm betting they went from Yorkshire/Lancashire to Dublin. (There was a Protestant cathedral in Dublin before there was a Catholic one).


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

I have been to the British Museum, bity not the others you mention.

I saw the Staffordshire Hoard in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (I actually wrote a hub about it), and, all being well, a substantial part of the find will be back in the city. A fantastic find!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Hello again Trish! I did a piece about the Staffordshire hoard as well, but more in the way of explaining gow it came to be there in the first place. You can also read about it on the Northworld Saga Site under the Anglian kings,(Eadwy of Northumbria and Penda of Mercia): www.northworldsagasite.webeden.co.uk


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi Alan. I'll take a look :)


American_Choices profile image

American_Choices 4 years ago from USA

Any thoughts about the Charlie Chaplin Museum that is slated to open in Vevey Switzerland in 2013? I find it strange from the American point of view that only Nestle has contributed or at least is the only one listed as a partner and yet Chaplin was an American icon and started United Artists.

I wonder who will sing Smile at the opening of the museum? I wonder if London will do anything in conjunction with the opening?

Your thoughts?


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

I had no inkling about a Charlie Chaplin Museum in Switzerland. Could be there's a reason why either Southwark (London) or Hollywood have been overlooked - something to do with his will? He trod the boards around England before emigrating - just the way Stan Laurel did, and there's a museum in his memory in Cumbria - but Charlie ended his days in Switzerland. Maybe the Swiss think they've got a claim?


jmartin1344 profile image

jmartin1344 4 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

Great hub! I have been to the British Museum and absolutely loved it as a youngster and once again as an adult. They have some really big name pieces obviously (they had the Rosetta Stone when I went) which are always nice to see but they also have such a vast amount of exhibits in so many different areas. There's something for everyone there.

I also went to the National Railway Museum in York (York is my favourite spot in the UK, other than the highlands of Scotland). I took my 8 year old cousin and he loved it! I know very little about trains but I also found it very interesting and know a little more now!

The Dorman Museum sounds great! I will have to check it out next summer!

Great read! I like the personal and less obvious details you provide about each location. It makes for much more interesting descriptions!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Hello again jmartin.The Dorman Museum is within walking distance of Middlesbrough Station, and at the southern side of Albert Park on Linthorpe Road (hardly worth a taxi fare).

You might also like to see the 'overspill' site of the NRM, 'Locomotion' at Shildon, north of Darlington (you can get there by bus from Darlington). At Darlington you could look in on the North Road museum at Darlington (one stop from Bank Top Station, the main Darlington station), which is the second station site of the Stockton & Darlington Railway at Darlington. On Saturdays the workshops of the A1 Locomotive Trust and North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group are open (across the way from the station front). Along the way from 'Locomotion' at Shildon is the Timothy Hackworth Workshop museum. Hackworth built 'Sanspareil', the rival to 'Rocket' at the Rainhill Trials, and he was the S&D's locomotive and wagon engineer.

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