The Middlesbrough coat of arms consists of five parts. The Grant of Arms specifies the colours of the various parts and these colours may not be changed.
Parts of the coat of arms
Working from the base upwards, the coat of arms is made up of:
1. The motto - 'Erimus' which means 'we shall be'.
2. The shield - The 'chief' (band across the top of the shield) is black. On the chief are two gold ships with silver sails. Between the ships is a six-pointed wavy star (estoile) in gold. The lower part of the shield is silver (often shown as white). On it is a blue rampant (rearing up) lion with red tongue and claws.
3. The helmet - From the top of the helmet is draped:
4. The mantling - Coloured blue and silver. The mantling started off as a piece of fabric hanging from the top of the helmet to protect the back of the neck from the sun (much like the Foreign Legion caps). In time it developed into a nightshirt garment, which covered most of the armour. It protected the knight from the heat of the sun, and the armour from rain and subsequent rusting. The garment became slashed in battle, so it is always depicted in a cut up condition, but somewhat stylised, as in Middlesbrough's coat of arms.
5. The crest - Fastened at the top of the helmet. It consists of a gold 'mural crown' (made of stone blocks to represent city walls or towers), on which there is a walking (passant) lion. Once again, the lion is blue with a red tongue and claws. Its right forepaw rests on a gold anchor.
This coat of arms is very similar to those designed in the late 19th Century when Sir Hugh Bell (Baronet) became Mayor, which were officially granted in 1911. The crest is slightly different and the Cook estoile replaces one of the original ships.
Explanations of the designs
Lions and motto
The blue lion is from the shield of the de Brus family (it can be seen on the de Brus cenotaph in Guisborough Parish Church). After the Conquest, the family was given many lordships in this area. Their motto was 'Fuimus', meaning 'we have been'. In the spirit of growth and progress, Middlesbrough chose 'Erimus', meaning 'we shall be'.
Ships and anchor
The ships and the anchor are for shipbuilding and maritime trade.
The star is to commemorate Captain James Cook, who was born at Marton, which is within the Middlesbrough boundary. Captain Cook's arms, granted several years after his death, show a globe of the world between two pole stars. The College of Arms gave special consent for the incorporation of part of those arms in Middlesbrough's new arms (Erimus) because of the town's strong link with the famous circumnavigator.
The mural crown is often granted to municipalities even though they may have no walls or castle.