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Striking photographs and historic plans from Middlesbrough’s past are going digital as part of a groundbreaking initiative.

The rarely seen historic material from the collections of Teesside Archives is being made available through the town’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) project.

Middlesbrough is one of more than 60 High Street Heritage Action Zones across the country, which aims to secure lasting improvements to historic high streets for the communities who use them. The initiative is Government-funded and run by Historic England. 

The new online hub features a host of historical resources for exploring the history and heritage of the Heritage Action Zone around Middlesbrough’s Historic Quarter centred on Exchange Square and the Railway Station.

Newly digitised material includes plans of a number of Victorian and Edwardian buildings, including the Grade II* Listed Webb House on Zetland Road, designed by celebrated Arts & Craft pioneer Philip Webb,  Middlesbrough Railway Station and the now demolished Royal Exchange.

As well as making the plans accessible through the new website, a number of photos and sketches from across the decades are also featured including images of pubs, newspaper cuttings, reports and souvenir publications.

Information about the HSHAZ project and new education resources, community submissions, oral histories, blogs and additional material will be added to the new online platform as the project develops.

HSHAZ Community Engagement Officer Dr Tosh Warwick said: “By digitising material and developing the new online Middlesbrough Heritage Action Zone platform we are able to make archival material to a range of new audiences to enhance engagement with our area’s history and heritage, develop new education resources and encourage local communities to share their own items and shape the project.”

Teesside Archives Manager Ruth Hobbins added: “Working in collaboration with the Middlesbrough HSHAZ has provided an amazing opportunity to digitise and showcase some of our wonderful plans and images of the historic centre of Middlesbrough to new audiences.

“It will greatly expand the reach of the service and allow more people to engage with their history and heritage.”

Councillor Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Culture & Communities, said: “Middlesbrough has amazing history and heritage and our Heritage Action Zone is helping to ensure it plays its part in the town’s future.

“These new digital resources will open up a wealth of amazing material, not just to scholars and academics, but also to the public at large.

“Great things are happening in Middlesbrough, and the Heritage Action Zone will be right at the heart of the action.”

Chris Collett from Historic England said: “We are delighted to be funding such an exciting archive project through the High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme.

“It will be wonderful to give local people access to this fascinating visual record of Middlesbrough’s rich history.”

The new Middlesbrough HSHAZ online platform can be accessed at

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