Town in Time
The Dorman Museum is Middlesbrough’s town museum. One of its primary functions is to collect, and interpret, items depicting its history and people. This is always a difficult task – what do you leave out?
Middlesbrough was only granted a town charter in 1853. It is essentially a Victorian new town yet the history of the people who have lived in this area can be traced back thousands of years to the Late Stone Age. In its short existence as a town it has seen countless changes as the urban area has expanded from a simple farm house and coal staithes established on the banks of the River Tees by Joseph Pease, a Darlington Quaker entrepreneur.
Two galleries have been devoted to this topic and even if you are not from Middlesbrough there is plenty of general interest since many of the themes represent a common history of Britain. Displays include reconstructions of a shopping street, school room, pawn brokers, air raid shelter, early 1900’s kitchen and back yard, cinema and pub. Interpretative themes include wartime, leisure, travel, local industries, the River Tees, discovering the past, religion, education, shopping, daily life and local celebrities.
Significant items on display include the Bishop’s Chair and other items from Middlesbrough’s first Roman Catholic cathedral, a late Stone Age dug out canoe, stained glass windows from the Central Methodist Church, carved stones and Norman font from the Middlesbrough Priory (established in the7th century), and a large silk banner painted by Herbert Finn (1920) for the Iron & Steel trades Confederation. There are a number of handling interactives for children, computer programmes and a cinema presentation.
A comprehensive education pack is being prepared to help teachers and group guides to fully utilise these galleries.