“The Battle of the Tees” by Dr.Tony Nicholson.

 The story line was one of a battle between two industrial giants, Josiah Pease and Ward Jackson, at the birth of the industrial revolution.  It told of the emergence in the mid-nineteenth century of an iron- making complex on the banks of the Tees and ultimately the creation of Middlesbrough. The battles had all the content of a novel – of personal rivalries, power and  politics, leading  to the  building of one empire and the demise of another..

The combatants had little in common beyond a search for money and dominance.

Josiah Pease was the railway entrepreneur who opened up the region to the south of the Tees, controlling the difficult waterway and its limited portage facilities.  Ward Jackson was the  landowner with the assets of the North Durham coalfield and the major port of Hartlepool.    Pease as the bourgeois upstart : Ward Jackson was of the landed gentry  Pease was a Quaker; Jackson the High Anglican

The seed for the battle came with the discovery of iron ore deposits to the south of the river With access to coal from the southern mines , readily available limestone and his own railway system,. Pease founded the basis for being the ironmaster to the whole region.   Jackson had to respond and did so by buying landed rights to extraction in Pease territory and , with strong political support, got a Parliament Bill to open up his own railway from the banks of the Tees to the heart of the iron fields.

Whereas Pease could access all resources and build the industry on the banks of the Tees, Jackson had to find ways of “importing” the ore from the south to his blast furnaces in the north.  His solution was to build jetties on both banks and to employ barges to ferry from one to the other.  Pease sought to block such passage – as Master of the Tees Conservancy Council he banned such traffic as counter to good waterways process.   Jackson ignored this, and built his jetties. Open war broke out with each baron arming parties of ruffians fighting to exercise control.

Where money , politics and personalities could not bring about peace for both parties, Ward Jackson lost because the gambling debts of his brother and subsequent court action brought about financial disaster.  The battle for the Tees was over and Pease was the ironmaster.

This was a powerful story, told by Dr Nicholson with unhesitating gusto, marshalled from family archives held by Teesside University. It was told in the most professional of ways with clear computer graphics   Members responded with richly testing questions, all handled with pleasure and aplomb by the excellent speaker.