Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Exchanging the Past

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Exchanging the Past

Article excerpt

NEXT time you are driving along the A66 elevated section in Middlesbrough between Albert Road and Marton Road spare a thought for the old Royal Exchange building.

The A66 flyover now passes right through the site where this characterful Victorian building stood until 1985 -although in its latter days it was a dilapidated eyesore and a pale shadow of its former self.

During demolition, the crumbling edifice resembled the ruins of the Reichstag in 1945 after the Red Army had paid a visit. But unlike the Reichstag, the Royal Exchange disappeared forever.

The Royal Exchange was built in 1868 and replaced an earlier Custom House. The scale of the building was huge and it was even planned to have a tower 130 ft tall, which would have been only 40 ft lower than the Town Hall clock tower.

The tower was never built because of lack of funds, but the building was impressive enough without it.

Inside there was a large hall that measured 160 ft by 60 ft with a vaulted ceiling, which was lavishly decorated. It was in this hall that the iron market was held on Tuesdays and Fridays to settle prices for iron, steel and other materials that were being produced on Teesside.

The planning of the town with its civic buildings reflected the ideals of the city fathers such as Henry Bolckow and Joseph Pease and the structures were correspondingly grand.

The Royal Exchange was no exception.

But in 1979 a new road had to be built and a dilapidated Victorian building stood in the way. Demolition seemed the only answer, although perhaps with a little more foresight it could have been preserved for future generations to value.

For what purpose? Well perhaps a new modern art gallery. Imagine the Royal Exchange being gutted, its exterior cleaned and a modern interior constructed. …

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