Middlesbrough became a county borough within the North Riding of Yorkshire in 1889. In 1968, the borough was merged with a number of others to form the County Borough of Teesside, which was absorbed in 1974 by the county of Cleveland. In 1996, Cleveland was abolished, and Middlesbrough Borough Council became a unitary authority within North Yorkshire. RGs Erimus (“We shall be” in Latin) was chosen as Middlesbrough’s motto in 1830. It recalls Fuimus (“We have been”) the motto of the Norman/Scottish Bruce family, who were lords of Cleveland in the Middle Ages. The town’s coat of arms is an azure lion, from the arms of the Bruce family, a star, from the arms of Captain James Cook, and two ships, representing shipbuilding and maritime trade.

Our first visit to Middlesbrough (17-19 September 2015) was the fourth to the North East of England, the previous three having been to Newcastle (1933, 1971, and 1985). Our host was David Macafee with his wife Vicky. The venue was the James Cook University Hospital (JCUH), a PFI new build (incorporating two previous district hospitals) and flagship for the eight hospitals of the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust with a catchment population of 1.5 million. A tertiary Major Trauma Centre, the JCUH contains all major and regional specialties as well as having teaching responsibilities, both on site towards senior medical students and for staff to teach at other units.

Our academic day in the JCUH Academic Centre included the management of trauma (pre-hospital care, the triaging of injured patients and who should be managed in the regional Major Trauma unit itself, advice on cardiothoracic trauma), with some military input too. Reflections on neurosurgery were followed by details of the supra-regional vascular birthmark service (mainly using intra-lesional bleomycin) and of military deployment during the African Ebola outbreak. The Registrar’s Prize was won by Shaj Wahed for his paper on sentinel lymph node assessment in oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

In the afternoon we learned of an aggressive cystitis attributable to ketamine abuse, advances in robotic surgery for colorectal and pelvic cancer, progress in the management of aortic aneurysms, the regional bariatric service, and the changing role of the general surgeon, in plastic surgery especially. The meeting was well attended by civilian and military surgeons, and provoked discussion about training and specialization.

We toured Durham Cathedral, first seeing precious original anatomy and medical books in the adjacent College Library. The ladies went to the ancient village of Helmsley with its castle and walled garden. The Society dinner was at the restaurant of the Cleveland Tontine, on the old Yarm to Thirsk turnpike. Informed by James Thompson about the Carthusian Order, finally we had a guided tour of the ruins at Mount Grace Priory on the Saturday morning, and the opportunity to ascend Roseberry Topping in the afternoon – after all, it had inspired James Cook.


The images above are of The ‘new’ Town Hall (Left) and a depiction of the ‘old’ Town Hall by L.S. Lowry (Right).  The image below is of the members and partners at the above meeting.  Click on it to enlarge it.