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Middlesbrough 1901 - 1939

Alice Schofield was a women's rights campaigner, born in Cleveland and based in Middlesbrough around this time.

Britain was going through huge change in the early years of the 20th century. The country had industrialised and became the most prosperous country on earth off of the back of the exploitation of people and the substances beneath our feet. Middlesbrough played a huge part in this growth, not least because of its role in the steel and iron industries but also because of sweeping social change. 

Politically, Middlesbrough was radical. In part thanks to migration from working class areas in Wales and Ireland, it had cemented itself as a base for left wing ideas. Havelock Wilson plays a key role in Middlesbrough's political history, having been elected a number of times both for the Labour Party and the Liberal because of his trade union background and his militant principles.

Militant means Havelock wasn't afraid to use force in order to achieve his goals.

Middlesbrough was also at the forefront of the women's rights movement, and more specifically women's right to vote. A number of feminists lived and campaigned in the city such as Marion Coates Hansen and Alice Schofield, who both supported the struggle for equal rights and equal pay.

Trade from Middlesbrough also grew at a fast pace in the 1900s. The town had connections with ports all over the world as the British Empire grew to its largest extent at the end of the First World War. Middlesbrough regularly saw ships from Tokyo in Japan, Alexandria in Egypt, Cape Town in South African and Bombay  in India.

You may have heard the phrase 'The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire'. This was because there was always a British owned country  in daytime!

Credit - LSE Library


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The first half of the 20th century in Middlesbrough proved to be very eventful. After the town grew fast in the Victorian times, it came into its own as an industrial powerhouse. There was lots of factories and foundries on both sides of the Tees, and maps are just filled with Railway lines branching off to every nook and cranny of the area. 

The Transporter Bridge, built at the eve of the century, allowed big ships to move further inland while also letter trucks and workers to move between each side of the Tees. It is now one of the iconic features of Middlesbrough, and still stands proudly on the river.

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