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New book celebrates Middlesbrough’s pub life through the years

Heritage and history

Tuesday, 12 December 2023
A scene from Middlesbrough's pub life of the past

Middlesbrough’s lost and historic pubs are celebrated in the latest book by historian Dr Tosh Warwick.

Last Orders! Middlesbrough’s Lost & Historic Pubs, published by Heritage Unlocked features over 150 photographs, plans, historic newspaper reports and memories of the town’s watering holes through time.

Last Orders! Middlesbrough’s Lost & Historic Pubs is the first book to draw extensively on the Les Bulman Collection at Teesside Archives and the new publication features dozens of previously unpublished, unique photographs of life in and around Middlesbrough’s pubs through time.

Alongside Les Bulman’s photographs, the book includes reports on life in the town’s pubs between the 1970s and 1990s including tales of community life, local characters and changes in well-known pubs including The Albion, Captain Cook, The Navigation and The Zetland.

Material from the collections of the late Middlesbrough historian Paul Stephenson, Middlesbrough Libraries, Teesside Archives and local newspapers also feature alongside community memories.

Les Bulman, who passed away in 2019, dedicated much of his life capturing Middlesbrough’s pubs through his trusty camera lens and spent countless hours at local archives and libraries researching the history of the town’s watering holes.

His collection was donated to Teesside Archives after his death and work with Heritage Unlocked, Navigator North, Teesside Archives volunteers, Teesside University students Katy Parsons and Adam Shillaw has seen hundreds of photos digitised and research carried out.

A selection of material from the collection featured in the recent ‘Last Orders!’ exhibition at The Masham.

Last Orders! Middlesbrough’s Lost & Historic Pubs provides a glimpse into community life, features many lost buildings and also reveals histories of Edwardian murder scandals, the town under attack during the Second World War and loss of historic buildings once at the heart of the community.

It also challenges some popular misconceptions about the ‘good old days’ and highlights the central role of pubs in the past and their importance as architectural, historic and community assets today.

Middlesbrough-born historian Dr Tosh Warwick, a researcher at the University of Sheffield, said: “I am delighted that through the new book I am able to share unique photographs, histories and stories from Les’ visits to long-lost or much-changed pubs for the first time.

"Les’ works provides a fascinating insight into pub life, particular the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

“The book would not have been possible without the Bulman family, the fantastic work at Teesside Archives and Navigator North as well as the local community sharing their stories.

“I hope that the book proves popular, brings back fond memories for readers and even helps people struggling to find a Middlesbrough-inspired gift ahead of Christmas!”

Last Orders! Middlesbrough’s Lost & Historic Pubs is available to buy at the Heritage Unlocked website and is available in local bookshops, including Guisborough Bookshop and Book Corner, Saltburn from the end of this week.

A scene from Middlesbrough's pub life of the past