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