Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 08.59.56THE history of a unique Middlesbrough ‘social experiment’ will be explored this weekend as part of Middlesbrough Local History Month.

The celebration of the town’s Winter Garden marks the inclusion of the site of Lady Florence Bell’s enterprise in the new Tees Transporter Bridge Heritage App and Trail.

Navigator North’s Print Studio is joining forces with the Heritage Lottery Fund-supported Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience Project to celebrate the story of Lady Bell’s People’s Winter Garden.

The heritage of the site – now Middlesbrough’s Dundas Arcade – will be marked on Saturday (May 2) with a history talk, craft session and exhibition.

The event draws upon recently uncovered historic Winter Garden archive material including documents and images from Middlesbrough Reference Library, Teesside Archives and Newcastle University’s Special Collections, which holds the records of Gertrude Bell, the famous explorer, daughter of the Middlesbrough steel magnate Sir Hugh Bell and subject of the ‘Queen of the Desert’ Hollywood movie starring Nicole Kidman.

The day kicks off with a talk at 10.30am by Historian and Tees Transporter Bridge Education, Learning and Events Officer Tosh Warwick at the Dundas Arcade (shop next door to Boyes).

From 11.10am onwards, printmakers and artists will be on hand to help visitors create their own Winter Garden prints in association with International Print Day (43 Dundas Street, children must be accompanied by an adult).

Members of the public are encouraged to bring along an object from their own collection – natural or industrial – to create a photographic blue-print (cyanotype) as a memento of the day.

Printmakers will also be helping visitors create their own ‘Postcard from Middlesbrough Winter Garden’ using handmade stamps to print a unique botanical themed postcard featuring a very special ‘stamp’.

Tosh Warwick said: “Lady Bell’s Winter Garden was a leading Edwardian social experiment that attracted attention from across the nation and brought leading dignitaries, exhibitions and performers to Middlesbrough.

“The venue sought to offer an alternative to the public houses which dominated recreation in the manufacturing town.

“By marking the history of the Winter Garden, this event with Navigator North and the wider HLF-supported Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience Project brings an aspect of the area’s lost heritage back into the community.”

Navigator North Co-Director Nicola Golightly added: “We’re looking forward to celebrating the Middlesbrough Winter Gardens through printmaking on the site where the venue once stood.

“By continuing our interest in the history of the Winter Garden, we will be working with artists to provide further exciting and engaging opportunities for the public.”

The printmaking sessions, talk and temporary exhibition are all free to attend.

  • For more information on the Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience – developed as part of the £2.6m Heritage Lottery Fund project which has also included the installation of a new glass lift, renovation of the gondola and enhanced visitor resources – and Navigator North visit teestransporterbridge.com and www.navigatornorth.com.
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