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Published 25th Oct 2011

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Young people are set to get an exclusive preview tour of a multi-million pound youth facility which will open its doors next year.

myplace in Middlesbrough is transforming a historic building into a state-of-the-art youth facility at a cost of £4.3m.

The ambitious transformation of the Custom House into myplace has been likened to a ‘Grand Design’-type project and is set to open its doors in the Spring.

myplace is bringing back to life the Custom House, one of Middlesbrough’s oldest buildings, situated in North Street in the St Hilda’s area of the town.

The Grade 2 listed building will become an activity, leisure and support centre which up to 9,000 young people from Middlesbrough will use every year.

Facilities include a performance and dance hall, chill out space, media studio, library, music facilities, interactive gym, and a training kitchen and café. Outdoors, there will be allotments and wildlife gardens.

There will also be advice and guidance services on education, employment and training, pregnancy and sexual health and drug and alcohol misuse.

The services on offer in myplace will be provided by a range of organisations including Middlesbrough’s Integrated Youth Support Service, Tees Valley Arts and Middlesbrough College.

The decision to house myplace in the Custom House was made by the young people of Middlesbrough who were excited by its proximity to Middlesbrough College and the Boho Zone.

On Tuesday a group of young people from the myplace steering group will don hard hats and steel toe cap boots to take a tour of the building and see the huge amount of work that has taken place so far.

Highlights of the tour will include the new glass box which will form a stunning atrium at the rear of the building, the new performance hall and a ‘secret room’, thought to be a servant’s room, discovered during the refurbishment.

The steering group members have been integral to making sure the voices of Middlesbrough’s young people are heard about what services and facilities should be in myplace.

History of the Custom House

The Custom House which stands in North Street is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Middlesbrough and was built in 1837.

It was the original home of the Middlesbrough Exchange Association, set up when the town was experiencing its earliest commercial successes primarily as a coal exporting centre.

In 1854 the building became Corporation Hall and was for many years the municipal centre of the town. It also later housed the County Court.

In 1887 Middlesbrough’s new Town Hall opened and Corporation Hall was bought by the Government to accommodate Custom and Excise officials, hence the name change to the Custom House.

The Custom House continued in its new role well past the Second World War until it was vacated. In recent decades it provided community facilities and office space for various ventures before falling into disuse. Work started on myplace in May last year.

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