Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Dormanstown ‘New Town’ (NZ584238)

‘New Towns’ are often thought of as a twentieth century phenomena, but they have been a constant feature of the evolving British landscape – especially since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.  Teesside is strewn with such Victorian creations, though several did not see light of day until later.

Dormanstown wasn’t even conceived of until the rush of industrial activity brought on by World War I. Dorman Long, the company made famous by its later construction of both the Tyne and Sydney Harbour bridges, was in urgent need of extra workers at the time, and decided to built a new settlement on its own doorstep at the very height of international hostilities.  The work began in 1917, and by 1920 was pretty much finished.  The marshy site went from a single building (Westfield House) to 300+ dwellings, as architects Adshead, Ramsey and Abercrombie literally ‘went to town’ on their fancy ‘garden village’ plans.

Most of the houses were built with steel frames and clad with concrete, but were modestly elegant affairs in the Georgian style – though most (all?) have now been demolished.  The town was added to further in the following decades, including the construction of what is believed to be England’s first purpose-built homes for senior citizens.

The town was, of course, named after Sir Arthur Dorman, the joint-founder of the Dorman Long company.

[The above image is taken from the ‘Historyof Dormanstown’ website – at which MUCH further information is available (click through to the extra pages, too)]

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  1. I note the photo above of Dormanstown is dated 1930s and is still not completed this throws into reput that d/town was built in 3 years to do this would be impossible devide 3years by 342 houses =3.2days to build 1house. Also there's no school buildings on South avenue I rember the schools plaque saying completed in 32 and if you enlarge the photo you will see some black buildings behind South ave and the corner of Westfield way this was the school my father went to until the new ones were built the larger of the buildings was still in use till the late 70s as a classroom and dinning hall. As for Westfield house it was not the only property in the area the cottages of Wiley bridge or Brigg as the locals called them.

    1. Thanks for your observations, Dennis. As an informed local I appreciate the further detail.

  2. Thank you some body taking notice .let's start at the beginning, in1917 Dorman&Long decided to build blast furnaces on Coatham marsh the building of this would require manpower both to build and operate the plant. So plans were drawn up and submited I do'nt know for definite when building began ,but between planning and building let's say late1917 early1918.All the first houses were built of brick not the dorlonco concrete houses as these had inside toilet and bathrooms not like the brick as they had outside toilets and tin bath that hung on a hook on the wall some of the houses had baths in the kitchen the hot water came from a copper header tank above the fire in the kitchen when not in use a large baton board was placed over it as a worktop.These houses remained the same up till the1970s when they were modernised ,the brick houses on Maxwell place and the Green all had built-in bathrooms these were for the managers and staff. The later Dorlonco houses built to the east of D/town all had bathrooms that's why the few houses on the west of the Fleet were built later.The references i use for this is Dorman museum building of the blast-furnaces ,the order of the building my wife's grandparents that moved out of Willey cottages to Broadway west they and my grandmother said the first street to be completed was Britannia place as it was on the old tramway from the mines to the works. The tramway was horse drawn rail cart that the people of Wiley bridge-brigg used for 1penny to go to church a Kirkleatham,when the rail net work from Kirkleatham and Wilton mines was built this made the tramway obsolete but was used to bring bricks to build the first part of Dormanstown.

  3. Hi its me again here to give some more info if you look on Catch site they open with a planning document dated 1918 no argument there next they show a plan dated 1917 this plan is showing the council houses on Broadway Wilton and Cleveland place these weren't built till the 30s most planners do use old plans to put on new builds to show how they compliment the area.The next two dated 1919_18 can't see any dates but plans don't tell you when the build starts but I notice that it says without permission. Now if we go back to the 30s photo if you look to the north of D/town there is a large black building this when I was a boy was Guy's haulage and buses but my father in formed me before this it was the old brick yard and I housed the kilns i remember the clay pits where they used to puddle the clay back when it was legal to catch newts there and the wood pond .From the shed was rail tracks on the photo there's no sign of them I've seen a plan with them on but I don't think the tracks went as far as Maxwell place I'll check and get back to you.

  4. I'm back the only plan that shows the rail track is on one with 1930s builds on it this is on d/town images ,but the tracks do finish in front of the village inn and behind where Hill crescent was to be built .which brings me to information gathered from Redcar.org 8/2/1919 Arthur Dorman applied for a liquor licence for a public house to be built in D/town was this the village inn ? Not the Fairway not built till the 30s but he also asks for 800 new dwellings to be built. 4/12/1920 stated state of buildings In D/town 98 being built 76 completed occupied,a further 100 were agreed with 25 ready west side of the village 15 houses nearing completion with an other 35 to be built. This shows by the above date only 101 houses completed which is more acceptable than one every 3 days. Now while travelling through council meetings and such time line I have to correct myself . The schools on South ave were opened on the 6/5/1933 the first school to be built scince the war. I was a year out but failings of memory can make history bunk.