An historic architectural example of Middlesbrough’s industrial heritage is set for major regeneration work, bringing new investment and business into the town.
The integrity and unique architecture of Commerce House, in Exchange Square, will be protected when redevelopment work is undertaken by new owners Commerce Chambers, beginning later this year through contractor Adavo Properties.
The former bank, one of Middlesbrough’s most recognisable buildings, has been owned by the North East Chamber of Commerce since 2006, but was used by the former Teesside Chamber of Commerce since 1935.
NECC decided to sell to Commerce Chambers, backed by financiers Tier One Capital, after seeing its plans to turn the building into a vibrant, town-centre office hub for businesses and potential inward investors.
The chamber’s chief executive, James Ramsbotham, said: “This Chamber has devoted over 200 years to helping create fertile ground for business to thrive in the North-East, so when the prospect arose of turning one of our own properties into exciting and distinctive new office space, we embraced the opportunity for positive change that will benefit Middlesbrough enormously.
“NECC will maintain a Middlesbrough office, and will move around the corner to Royal Middlehaven House.
“It’s essential that we continue to have a strong team working in Tees Valley, home to many of our most trusted and influential members.
“Commerce House wonderfully reflects the town’s history and industrial heritage. It is a large, handsome built-for-purpose landmark and I am delighted this deal will see it not only preserved, but sympathetically redeveloped to retain all of its charm while meeting, and even exceeding, the requirements of modern business.”
Commerce House boasts a distinctive verdigris copper dome and houses a large, now unused residential apartment on its top floor.
Built for the York City and County Banking Company in 1872, it is best remembered as the home of the Midland Bank.
NECC president Mike Matthews added: “There are obviously mixed emotions as Commerce House has been the NECC base in the Tees Valley since it was formed, but the opportunity to secure such an exciting town centre regeneration project while protecting the integrity of this fantastic building was too good an opportunity to miss.
“Members in Tees Valley can rest assured that it will be business as usual throughout NECC’s move to its new home.”
Contractor Adavo Properties is quickly gaining a renowned reputation as a Grade II listed renovation specialist for its skill in redeveloping historically significant properties, overseeing enormously well-received regeneration projects at Wallsend Town Hall and Jarrow Police Station.
Commerce Chambers spokesman Chris Bull said: “The provision of top quality, character office space with accompanying flexibility around easy-in, easy-out occupancy is a strong combination which we wholly believe will serve the local business community well and ensure a working use for this magnificent building for the next generation.”
For more than a century Commerce House existed as a banking institution. The York City and County Bank existed until 1909 when it was amalgamated with the London Joint Stock Bank, which itself amalgamated with Midland in 1918.
The Midland name lasted until the end of the 20th century when it adopted its parent company brand, HSBC.
The property as it stands now is a mixture of both Bolckow House and the original Commerce House, and while the oldest part of the building was built in 1872 the newer side wasn’t built until 1901.
The former Teesside Chamber of Commerce moved into the property in June 1935 and the properties were merged in 1988.
Commerce House was refurbished in 2007 and formally re-opened by the Princess Royal in April 2008.
Since NECC formed in 1996 its head office has been at Aykley Heads, Durham, with local offices in Newcastle and Middlesbrough to ensure a local service to members in all parts of the region.