A poignant ceremony to lay a wreath on the long-lost grave of one of Middlesbrough’s most eminent forefathers is to be held next week 100 years to the day he was buried.
Sir Hugh Gilzean Reid was a campaigning journalist and politician who helped change Victorian society for the better.
His major achievements include:
Founding the country’s first ha’penny newspaper the North-Eastern Daily Gazette, now the Evening Gazette
Establishing the 1870 Education Act which made education available to everyone under 13
Championing the universal penny postage which helped herald the age of mass communication
On top of this Scottish-born Gilzean Reid, a father-of-10, was a friend to British and European royalty, a Member of Parliament and a Baptist preacher.
He also helped create the Co-operative Society, which enabled working people to buy their own houses, and went on a mission to the Congo.
Local historical researcher Steve Waller discovered Gilzean Reid’s lost grave in the Linthorpe Road Old Cemetery which is now Ayresome Gardens park.
Steve has found that more than 11,000 people are buried there, including more than 5,000 children under three.
The cemetery became a park in the 1960s and its history was forgotten about until Steve started his research three years ago.
Steve said: “Gilzean Reid was in my opinion a genius. He was a world figure, not just a national figure.
“He has inspired me to do this research so the power of the man has stretched beyond the grave. You cannot keep a great man down!
“We will be laying a wreath to commemorate his life and the good he did for Middlesbrough and the world.”
In further research Steve discovered the old cemetery was laid out in an intricate “Butterfly” design layered with religious and spiritual symbolism and he has now built a model to recreate it.
He added: “I’ve really enjoyed doing the research. It’s given me enormous satisfaction.”
Steve is inviting people to attend a guided tour and wreath laying ceremony on Tuesday, November 8 from 11am to 12.15pm which will be 100 years since Gilzean Reid’s burial.
Attendance on the tour and wreath laying is by booking only. Meeting point is at 11am at the flower bed in Ayresome Gardens facing Linthorpe Road.
To book call Ann Thirsk at Teesside Archives on 01642 248321.