chapter  I
8 Pages


Middlesbrough is the very prototype of a town born and reared during the past century. Hence all its defects and all its assets. Hence it is known chiefly for its iron and steel industry, for its mushroom growth, its grid-iron layout and its alleged ugliness. Instead of growing around a castle or a cathedral, as some of the old towns in the country, it has grown around coke-ovens and blast-furnaces. The founders of the great combines have been its Lords of the Manor. The scenery is marred by weird and giant industrial structures. The sky is obscured by the twin bursts of flame and smoke which emanate from industrial processes. The river is cut off from the town by the machinery of the docks and of the iron and steel works. Its bed is muddy. Its banks are littered with all the debris and the appurtenances of the works and the docks: vast slag heaps interspersed with railway lines, cranes, chimneys, furnaces and sheds. This core 0.£ Middlesbrough is still, as it was at the beginning of the century, "a place in which every sense is violently assailed all day long by some manifestation of the making of iron". 1 .