By One Giant Leap
Wednesday 05 Dec 2018 17:28:00
Browse all History articles
Long lost streets are to be brought back to life thanks to an initiative by Middlesbrough’s William Lane Foundry, which dates back to 1862 and the area’s Victorian heyday.

Staff at the historic foundry have commenced the casting and sale of street signs commemorating the area’s lost streets as part of the firm’s latest history-inspired initiative.

The new street signs will be cast at the company’s Forty Foot Road-based facility using traditional production techniques.

Early signs that have already proven popular have included those commemorating the Cannon Street and St Hilda’s areas of Middlesbrough, whilst the Foundry have also received orders for signs for lost streets from across the region.

The production of the street signs will also see the Foundry team up once again with historian Dr Tosh Warwick, who will be researching memories and gathering stories of the old streets that will feature on the firm’s website and social media.

The production of the street signs is the latest in a number of heritage activities the Foundry has undertaken in recent years.

Earlier this year the firm cast a new plaque commemorating the booking of the first passenger on the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 1825, with the original – unveiled during centenary celebrations in 1925 – having been damaged.

Other collaborations have included the casting of blue plaques for the Heritage Lottery Fund Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience, production of components for vintage railways, and the manufacture of a replacement war memorial at All Saints’ Church in Middlesbrough.

The Foundry also starred on the small screen on BBC’s Great British Railway Journeys with presenter Michael Portillo casting a component for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway during his visit in 2015. 

Stuart Duffy, a director and stalwart of William Lane Foundry since 1977 said: “William Lane Foundry has a proud history and we are always looking at new ways to celebrate the area’s heritage.

“The idea to produce the signs arose from suggestions by members of local and national heritage groups such as the popular Facebook page ‘Memories of Middlesbrough’ and transport enthusiast societies.”

Made using traditional casting techniques, these heritage signs will provide a unique souvenir from Middlesbrough’s last surviving foundry all whilst supporting a local business at the heart of the area’s history. 

Historian Dr Tosh Warwick added: “Street signs evoke a lot of meaning and memories associated with everyday life in these long-lost communities.

“We see street signs displayed in museums and visitor attractions and even in pubs as symbols of a bygone era and a link to a whole community and way of life.

“Although the streets have gone, the signs cast at William Lane Foundry offer members of the public a chance to reminisce and own a bit of history.

“Hopefully the street signs will help rekindle and encourage the sharing of memories and stories attached to the old streets and towns that have not been recorded so far.”

Orders for the street signs - cast from aluminium and starting at £48 - as well as information on other products, can be found at www.williamlanefoundry.uk, by emailing info@williamlanefoundry.uk or contacting 01642 242871.

William Lane



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