In 1901, much of the Ayresome Grange Estate, which included Middlesbrough Ironopolis’s old Paradise Ground, was drained to make way for a new ground in keeping with Boro’s growing stature. 

Shaun Wilson

shaun.wilson1971@gmail.com

Thumbnail

The plans initially included a training pitch and a playing surface for the club’s reserve side. The architect was the famous Archibald Leitch of Glasgow and the cost was to be an enormous £10,438.16.

The plans - held in the collection at Teesside Archives -  include in minute detail the structure of Ayresome Park.

The centrepiece of Leitch’s Ayresome was the impressive North Stand with its barrel roof. Opposite stood a stand that was familiar to seasoned Boro home followers.

The main grandstand at Linthorpe Road was dismantled, transported to the new ground, and re-erected as the new South Stand. There it stood until 1937, when Dorman Long and Co were commissioned to build a replacement South Stand, which remained for the rest of the ground’s life.

Photographs from inside the old Linthorpe Road ground are rarely seen, in fact they are non-existent. Featured here is the next best thing during a game at Ayresome versus Liverpool in either 1914 or 1915. Liverpool were playing in their away kit of red and white stripes and shows Boro striker Walter Tinsley coming up against legendary Pool goalkeeper Elisha Scott and defender Sam Speakman.

For once the star of the photograph is in the background with old / new South Stand in all its glory. One mystery is that it was always reported that the stand was only 50 foot long. Either the camera angles of the day were misleading but the enclosure looks a little bigger than that.

Another point of interest is an early example of sponsorship in football. Boro had a director called Otto Winterschladen who’s family famously had a number of off-licenses in the Teesside area. The firm’s name is seen proudly displayed on the South Stand roof.

In the latter years of Ayresome Park, this tradition re-appeared, in particular when club sponsors Heritage Hampers was adorned on the North Stand roof in 1988, and even made the Guinness Book of Record as the largest advertising board in sport.