How did Middlesbrough come to be known as ‘Ironopolis’?

Through a series of five questions, pupils will learn how Middlesbrough has changed from prehistoric times to the present day. Each question has a PowerPoint presentation of information plus a series of supporting enquiries and activity sheets to help pupils discover more about Middlesbrough’s history and embed their learning.


Teaching ideas

By investigating the development of the town chronologically, pupils will be able to look for similarities, differences, and changes over time throughout the whole history of the town. They will gain an understanding of how the town they live in today has been shaped, and continues to be shaped, by the place itself and the people who have lived in it. Each of the following questions is designed to enable pupils to use enquiry techniques to discover for themselves how their local history relates to the national history of Britain.

The Middlesbrough Local History Teaching Overview describes the specific learning outcomes for each of the activities listed below. You can also download our ‘Essentials’ for extra resources that can be used with all five questions, such as word mat, glossary and much more.

Question 1 - How did Middlesbrough begin?

  • How did Middlesbrough begin? - PowerPoint Presentation
  • Middlesbrough Viking Names Activity
  • Local History Timeline Sorting Activity

Extended Task: Can you find out more about one of the artefacts or historical sites discovered in the local area?

Question 2 - Why did the port change the area?

  • Middlesbrough Growth - PowerPoint Presentation
  • Comparing Impact of Growth in Middlesbrough Activity
  • Train departs for Port Darlington! Newspaper Article Activity

Extended Task: Can you find out how a staithe works?

Question 3 - How did a discovery in the Cleveland Hills impact Middlesbrough?

  • Cleveland Ironstone - PowerPoint Presentation
  • John Vaughan Biography
  • Geology of North Yorkshire Activity
  • Middlesbrough Population Growth Activity

Extended Task: Can you write a biography for Henry Bolckow?

Question 4 - Why was a new railway station opened in 1877?

  • History of Middlesbrough Train Station - PowerPoint Presentation
  • Comparing History – Photo Pack Activity
  • Architect Wanted! Job Advert Activity

Extended Task: What can you find out about the trains from this time period?

Question 5 - How did Middlesbrough ‘build the world’?

  • Ironopolis - PowerPoint Presentation
  • Made in Middlesbrough Map Activity
  • Made in Middlesbrough Fact File Activity

Extended Task: Which moment in Middlesbrough’s history is the most defining?

Learning aims and outcomes

  • To learn about changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age
  • To make inferences from archaeological evidence
  • To use the terms 'invade' and 'settle'
  • To investigate aspects of local history and how it relates to a national story
  • To develop a sense of pride in where they live
  • To develop skills in chronology using timelines and historical information
  • To create reasoned and evidentially supported judgements
  • Establish clear narratives within and across the periods studied

Prior knowledge

  • No prior knowledge is required, all information is provided