The first cargo to be exported from Darlington was coal. It was transported to the staiths at Port Darlington and transferred to the steamship ‘Sunniside’. As trade increased, Middlesbrough became known as an important port.

Above: Some of the first references to 'The Port of Middlesbrough' (Source: Industrial Rivers of the United various well-known experts, edited by Evan Rowland Jones)
Above: These records from the Houses of Parliament in 1837 are one of the earliest dated references to Port of Middlesbrough (Source: The Journals of the House of Commons – Volume 92 – Page 312)

By the early 1830s, Middlesbrough had become a thriving business town, due to the improvements in the river, and the extension of the Stockton & Darlington Railway to the to the town.

In the decade following the opening of the coal staiths Middlesbrough expanded significantly as the town’s population increased, houses were built and new industries developed. In 1833, the first ship to be built and launched from a Middlesbrough yard, was launched from Laing’s shipyard (owned by the Laing family) situated on Commercial Street. The vessel, a wooden brig named ‘the Middlesbro’ was part of the trading routes between the Tees and Thames. Other industries that emerged in the first decade included the Middlesbrough Pottery dating from 1834.

Did You know?

The Sunniside was a steam brig, a two sailing ship with auxiliary steam power. The advantage was supposed to be that the ship could sail up-wind when it was convenient and additionally it could use the steam power to move relative to the wind to obtain a more advantageous sailing angle.

Above: Published account of coals sent down the Stockton & Darlington Railway for shipping out of Stockton and Middlesbrough. Tonnages increased to over 500,000 tonnes by 1840 (Source: Coal Drops, Middlesbrough P249).

Did you know?

Middlesbrough was home to Linthorpe Art Pottery. Established in 1879 by entrepreneur John Harrison and the celebrated designer Christopher Dresser, it was one of the most innovative and interesting potteries of the Victorian era.

Above: Shipping register showing the listing for the Sunniside – the first vessel to load cargo at Port Darlington (Source: Maritime Directory 1848)