Contact or join us
News, meetings and events
St Mary's Church
Nunthorpe Methodist Church
John Ross Postcards
Old Maps of Nunthorpe
Nunthorpe Walks map
Both art works by kind courtesy of Ingrid Sylvestre.
For more of Ingrid's art
check out the Painting Gallery for more artwork
Built in 1865 for William Hopkins, Mayor of
Middlesbrough, Grey Towers is unusual in that it is faced with whinstone. Arthur
Dorman, of the steel makers Dorman Long, lived there until his death in 1931.
Alderman Sir Thomas
Gibson Poole purchased the estate and presented it to Middlesbrough Council as a
TB sanatorium, becoming known as Poole Hospital.
Back to top
This article originally appeared in the November 1999 issue of
Now & Then Magazine
Executive homes could save Poole Hospital
Ever since Grey Towers Hall at Nunthorpe, became surplus to the Health
Authority’s requirements, this magnificent mansion (a designated Grade 2*
building) has fought a losing battle against the ravages of decay and vandalism.
Boarded up windows and firmly locked doors conceal dilapidation on a major scale
and the grey exterior, purblind to the beauty of the surrounding countryside,
wears an air of shabby aristocratic weariness.
Deliverance however could now be at hand, with an exciting plan drawn up by the
health organisations in conjunction with Middlesbrough Council. This involves
the health organisations selling off enough land to a developer to build 60
executive houses on the site.
A condition of sale however would be the restoration of the Hall. Describing how
the proposals had emerged from the Local Plan process, Chris Hawking, who is in
charge of local planning described them as an acceptable quid pro quo. “In
return for the inclusion of executive housing, it will give the hall and
surrounding woodland a complete makeover.”
Mr Hawking, who is now waiting for the plan to be adopted, foresees a restored
Grey Towers as a possible hotel, or luxury flats or possibly a research HQ for a
major company. The overgrown walled garden could also contain luxury dwellings.
Grey Towers was designed by John Ross the eminent northern architect in 1875 for
William Randolph Inns Hopkins, a pioneer of the Cleveland iron trade and twice
elected mayor of Middlesbrough. The mansion with its 87 acres was offered for
sale in 1879 at Darlington but was withdrawn when it failed to reach its reserve
It remained unoccupied for 25 years and then became the home of Sir Arthur
Dorman, chairman of Dorman Long & Co Ltd, the renowned iron and steel makers.
Sir Arthur invested generously in his property. Large quantities of enormous
rocks were used to create a natural feature in the planning of rock and water
Huge banks of rhododendron and azaleas were planted to provide a picture of
riotous colour. He installed a two and a half acre trout lake and extensive
vegetable and fruit gardens with glass houses and an orchard. There was a tennis
court and many well trimmed lawns. He also built houses for his outdoor staff.
On his death, his beloved Grey Towers came onto the market and it was feared
that this historic building would be lost to a speculative builder.
Enter, a Lieut.-Col T Gibson Poole, who had rendered conspicuous service to
Middlesbrough, the town of his adoption. He had been Mayor of the Borough on
three occasions and served on a number of important committees as well as being
a member of the Tees Conservancy Commission.
In an act of overwhelming generosity, Col. Poole purchased Grey Towers and
unconditionally, presented it to Middlesbrough Town Council to be used as a
sanatorium for consumptives. Thus Poole Sanatorium came into being, providing an
idyllic setting for those sufferers of tuberculosis, which left untreated was
a rampant killer in the 1930s. The original accommodation was for 45 early or
curable cases – 15 children and 30 male adults.
The plan to refurbish Grey Towers again will be welcomed by those anxious not to
see the building destroyed by incipient neglect. The estate generally is
dreadfully run down. The woods surrounding the hall have become a popular
meeting place for young hell raisers evidenced by the scores of empty beer cans
and other detritus bespoiling the lakeside. There is even a rumour that the hall
itself has been infiltrated by a cult who have used it as their settlement. The
bridal path leading to the woods has become a dump for all manner of household
To the right of this path are the derelict farm buildings of the once attractive
Grey Towers Farm adjacent to which is land owned by a local development company
whose recent suggestion that this land should be used for housing was turned
down by the planners.
Back to top