Although a small medieval settlement predated the present town, Middlesbrough’s nineteenth century growth had nothing comparable in English history. A population of 40 (1829), grew to 7,600 in 1851, 20,000 in 1860, 40,000 in 1861, and 90,000 in 1900). The religious complexity of the town in part reflected a large immigrant Irish Roman Catholic population (becoming a R.C. diocese in 1879), and a smaller Welsh Nonconformist community. The growth of this Yorkshire town began in 1829 when Joseph Pease, the Darlington Quaker, and his partners purchased land near the Tees estuary where in 1830 the first house was built in the ‘new town’. In the following year the Stockton & Darlington Railway was extended to Middlesbrough, leading to substantial dock developments. Probably the most important persons in the town’s development, making it the country’s leading ‘iron town’, were the brothers-in-law Henry W.F. Bolckow and John Vaughan, who opened an iron works in 1841 and the town’s first Bessemer steel plant in 1875. Economic industrial decline began in the inter–war Depression and continued into the post-war years.
WM services began to be held in 1820 for the workers constructing the railway from Stockton and then in the town itself from 1830; a small chapel was opened in West Street in the ‘new town’ in 1830 and replaced by Centenary in 1838 (closed 1949), predating the nearby St. Hilda’s, the town’s first Anglican church, which opened the following year. ‘Big’ Wesley, later the Methodist Central Mission, opened in 1863, (closed 1954). The early twentieth century expansion included the Park WM (1905 to 1994) and the still continuing The Avenue, WM, Linthorpe, 1908, replacing a village chapel of 1860. The Wesleyan Conference met here in 1921.
The PMs began services in 1835, opening Richmond Street in the ‘new town’ in 184l, replaced by the still continuing Linthorpe Road in 1892, now serving the business district. Gilkes Street PM opened in 1878, and here under the preaching of the Rev. William Younger, a great revival broke out in 1897. The PM Conference met in the town in 1914 and 1932, the latter held at Grange Road U.M. being the final one before Methodist Union.
The Wesleyan Reformagitation led to a UMFC presence. Their main church, Grange Road. (1877 to 1934) replaced one opened in Linthorpe Road in 1859. An initial attempt by the MNC in 1864 to become established in the town, using the Sailors’ Bethel, was unsuccessful. A new initiative came in 1872 with the opening of an iron chapel in Corporation Street, followed on the same site by Zion Love Memorial in 1883 (closed 1921). The UMs opened the still continuing Grove Hill in 1923.