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Nunthorpe History Group

Grey Towers 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Both art works by kind courtesy of Ingrid Sylvestre.

For more of Ingrid's art check out the Painting Gallery for more artwork

please click http://ingridsylvestregreytowersart.blogspot.com

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                

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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 price.
  
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 gardens.
  
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 rubbish.
  
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.

 

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