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Published 10th May 2011

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A stirring poem has been composed in support of Middlesbrough’s bid for city status.

Middlesbrough is one of a number of towns from across the UK bidding to become a city as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations next year.

The campaign to show the people of Middlesbrough are behind the bid has received all kinds of creative contributions including paintings, songs and cakes.

The latest submission is a poem by Bob Beagrie and Andy Willoughby who have been writing and publishing work in the town for decades.

The poem entitled ‘When the Infant Hercules Comes of Age’ covers the fortunes of the town after it was described as an ‘Infant Hercules’ by Prime Minister William Gladstone in 1862.

The poem considers what makes up the town apart from “iron, steel, rail tracks, ships and chemicals”. It identifies:

“…The defiant roar from a Boro red Riverside
“The horsehair tip of Lowry’s bush tackling the old town hall
“The innovation & chips of the digital city
“Cartoons and games transformed into pixels
“Proms in the Park and AV Festivals…”

The poem concludes:

“The adult Hercules draws strength from all these things.
“Now the smoke has cleared and he will come of age…
…Meet the future, write a new page!”

Bob, a lecturer in creative writing at Teesside University, believes Middlesbrough is already a city in everything but name.

He said: “Middlesbrough should have been a city a long time ago, at least 50 to 60 years ago.

“Back then Middlesbrough was a real hub of industry, commerce and international trade.

“If you go to the archives and look at the shipping records the amount of imports and exports coming in and out of the dock was colossal.”

Bob, who lives in Middlesbrough, said City Status will give the town and its people a real boost.

“Becoming a city will give people a strong sense of pride, a more communal ownership of the city and it will also bring more opportunities to bid for different pots of money that only cities are allowed to bid for,” he said.

“I think Middlesbrough people are down to earth and very friendly and I love the history of the place.

“People have come here from all over the world and it’s a real cultural mix. It makes the town really strong and dynamic.

“It’s also in a great location we can be in the Cleveland Hills and the coast within 15 minutes.

“There’s lovely landscape all around Middlesbrough and I love mima, Teesside University and Temenos.”

Now Bob and Andy are inspiring a new generation of poets in the town with a special ‘Slamming the City’ poetry slam event for school children taking place on Wednesday, May 25 just two days before Middlesbrough’s official bid document is handed in.

Download: Poem

When The Infant Hercules Comes of Age

Useful links

Love Middlesbrough: City Status Bid

Love Middlesbrough: City Status Bid - Background

Love Middlesbrough: City Status Bid - Messages of support

Love Middlesbrough: City Status Bid - Creative responses

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