AV Dawson’s Port of Middlesbrough – Returning to our roots as we look to the future

Port of Middlesbrough’s quayside can be traced right back to 1830, an extension of the Stockton and Darlington Railway opened to deliver coal from the Durham coalfields to the new coal export staithes in Middlesbrough. The first coal was exported from the new port in January 1831. It was so successful and overwhelmed with shipping that work began on a new facility in 1839 and this was Middlesbrough Dock which opened in 1842 and by the 1890s the area of the river became known as Port of Middlesbrough.

The original quayside continued trading and throughout the first half of the 20th century was operated by T Roddam Dent and Sons and was known as Dents Wharf, the adjacent picture being from 1950.

It wasn’t till 1970 that Arthur Vernon Dawson, the grandfather of current managing director Gary Dawson bought the land from the Dent family, to build a new yard from which to operate an expanding haulage business and to develop the first multi-user industrial estate in Middlesbrough.

The smaller quay that is owned, closest to the Transporter bridge was known as Tyne Tees Wharf and was once operated by the Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company until the 1940’s- it had the only Bonded Warehouse on the Tees at the time, the remnants of which we demolished in the 1980s.

Moving into the late 1980s when the National Dock Labour Scheme was abolished by Margaret Thatcher, AV Dawson gained a license to operate its first quay. This is when the quayside changed from being called Middlesbrough Wharf and became known as Dawson’s Wharf.

The company then purchased the Ayrton Rolling Mill from British Steel in 1985 and renamed it as the Ayrton Railhead and Store. Further land acquisitions included the Linthorpe Dinsdale Yard in 1998 (the quay being known as Lin-Din, which was then re-branded North Sea Supply Base).

This was followed by additional purchases of several plots of land to the south of Forty Foot Road, alongside the Middlesbrough Goods Rail Yard. These sites once developed became collectively known as the Tees Riverside Intermodal Park (TRIP Terminal). Latterly a 99-year lease of Middlesbrough Goods Yard was taken from Network Rail.

On 17 September 2020 AV Dawson returned to its roots by renaming its site Port of Middlesbrough – An AV Dawson Facility.

AV Dawson - A Brief history

Founded in 1938, by Arthur Vernon Dawson, the grandfather of current managing director Gary Dawson, with the princely sum of £50 which had been raised through the sale of a second hand car. With the money, he bought a horse called Dina, a cart and a load of coal to sell.
Maurice Dawson Joined the family business The firm’s early explorations soon led the company to sell the coal business to concentrate on road haulage. AV Dawson was now outgrowing its premises on Emmerson Street, Middlesbrough, and moved to a larger facility on Newport Road.
It wasn’t long before the business grew further, moving to a new base on the town’s Lloyd Street. It was in 1973 that AV Dawson made the most significant move in its history, acquiring a six-acre site on Middlesbrough Wharf, later named Dawson’s Wharf, where the business still operates today. The port is reported to be the oldest wharf on the river dating back to 1820 where it served the growing steel and ironworks.
The site had grown to 11 acres and the company had increased its haulage fleet with the acquisition of haulage business WG Thomas, raising its fleet to more than 60 vehicles. Major investment continued with development of industrial units and site infrastructure.
After the closure of British Steel’s Ayrton rolling mill in, AV Dawson saw the opportunity to diversify, purchasing the facility to store 20,000 tonnes of potash. AV Dawson’s new facilities also garnered interest from ICI who eventually used the site to store bulk bags of fertiliser.
The business passed a pivotal point in 1985 when it acquired a much sought after licence to bring the Middlesbrough wharf back to life after being closed for many years
50th anniversary – Opening of the Ayrton store and rail terminal (Michael Portillo opened it by driving into the site on the company’s locomotive)
The completion of the company’s first concrete quay and over the next seven years the wharf grew substantially, handling imports and exports.
Port of Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough Goods Yard
AV Dawson purchased one of the most visible features on the Teesside landscape by acquiring the adjacent offshore fabrication yard, which included the large fabrication halls. Today the site is known as the North Sea Supply base. This allowed AV Dawson to discharge larger ships and extend its quayside to one kilometre.
AV Dawson continued to grow, welcoming in the millennium with the promotion of Gary Dawson to managing director, with Maurice taking on the role of chairman. Over the coming years AV Dawson was to purchase several sites to support the growth of the container and renewable energy markets.
2015 saw the completion of a three-year, £12.5m master plan which enabled the company to grow by more than a third. The three-phase plan included a £2.6m intermodal rail terminal, which provides freight firms with a direct link to the East Coast mainline, and a £3.4m project to extend its quay and dredge the river, creating a deepwater quay, The final phase was the opening of its £6.5m automotive metals distribution centre.
AV Dawson celebrates 80 years in business. AV Dawson is now one of the large sources of local employment, with more than 96% of its employees being resident in the Tees Valley.
Port of Middlesbrough – An AV Dawson Facility, is launched.