The Cleveland Centre was opened in the 1970’s, and is a flat square design with five entrances. There is a medical suite upstairs, which serves local communities. It is a small shopping centre when comparing it to big multi-level centres such as Newcastle’s Metro Centre, however, it is the biggest and most comprehensive centre in Middlesbrough town centre.
The train station is a five minute walk away, while the bus stop is even closer, so it is nearly impossible to miss it if you are walking into the town centre. Above the actual shops is a multi-storey car park, making it ideal for any shopping trip to Middlesbrough.
If you carry on past the toilets, the entire east side of the building has recently been redeveloped into a Holiday Inn, which is perfect for visitors to the town.
This in turn faces on to Centre Square, which is a massive open grassed area, with a massive public screen, a water fountain, the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), the Central Library and the town hall. So this is a lovely public place to eat outside in favourable weather, and fits well into the town centre by virtue of its location being on the other side of the road to the Cleveland Centre.
For food you have Greggs for sandwiches and pies, Costa Coffee, Starbucks coffee shop and Cupeno’s Coffee and a few smaller names selling milkshakes and smoothies. There are no restaurants located inside.
However, outside the end entrances, is Middlesbrough’s new ‘Cultural Quarter’ on Bedford and Baker Street, and here there is an endless choice of different types of restaurants, micro breweries, independent eateries and coffee shops, located between 2 minutes to 10 minutes walk away.
Linthorpe Road stretches all the way outside from the Cleveland Centre out towards the residential areas. It is here you would go for a large selection of Indian, Italian, Chinese and other world restaurants. Recommended restaurants would be Italian restaurant Fellini’s, all-can-eat buffet at the Chinese Banana Leaf and the popular Central Park for steaks and a good bar.
There are a number of student pubs located near Teesside University, which is about 5 minutes walk up Linthorpe Road from the Cleveland Centre. This section of Linthorpe Road is obviously very popular with students from Thursday through till Saturday.
The north and the west side of the centre leads out onto a pedestrianised area, where there can often be live busking to enjoy.
At Christmas time the north side holds a strip of market stalls that are open till late, as is the actual centre itself. There is a reindeer procession that passes the centre as well, which is always good fun for the kids to watch! The annual 5km road race ends outside at the town hall, again, offering shoppers a distraction to enjoy.
There is a cinema complex, along with a few restaurants a 5 minute walk away, towards the Riverside Stadium, which is the home to Middlesbrough Football Club. Therefore, on home matches the town centre gets extremely busy and parking spaces are hard to find.
There are around 60 shops located within the centre, which is home to big name outlets such as HMV music shop, Topshop, H&M and Psyche for fashion, Boots the chemist, WH Smiths for stationery and books, O2, Vodafone and Stormfront for mobile phones and many more.
The biggest multi-story store at the main entrance, has recently been taken over by a combination of luxury retailer Flannel’s, sports store Sports Direct and clothing retailer USC, with each store having its own floor.
Topshop is a double storey store, WH Smiths has a downstairs with a post office on one side and Boots has a children's section downstairs. The rest of the anchor stores are more or less the same medium size.
There is a Poundland and a Poundworld supermarket situated at each end of the store, with both of them being rather large and offering a great deal of amazing bargains, to help you stay within your budget.
Shopping at the Cleveland Centre feels good in that it is a well maintained building, it is bright, clean and there is a good range of shops, considering how small the centre is. Therefore the centre always has great numbers of every demographic.
Because it is the main shopping centre in the town it is always a destination point for shoppers, so it will be very busy at peak times and on match days. Having said that, there are no choke points and there are five entrances, so there are no congestion problems for shoppers.
There are no special feeding rooms or facilities for mothers in the building, but there is seating outside HMV music store. There are two large chemists and the upstairs clinic, so that is always useful for parents, with a large kids section downstairs in Boots.
The entrances are wide enough for wheelchair access and all the shops are located on the ground floor. The doors are all automatic as well. There are disabled cubicles in the toilets located outside, but no toilets of any type inside the shopping centre.
There are a few coin-rides for smaller children located outside Cupeno’s Coffee Shop, but other than that there is nothing else, unless there is buskers or seasonal events happening around the centre.
The grounds of Centre Square is good to let kids blow off some steam if the weather allows though, with the area around the fountain being popular with skaters. Plus MIMA art museum has a kids section at the entrance, with creative activities available.
There are toilets located in the centre, but you have to go past HMV and outside to access them, so it is a bit confusing at first glance if you haven’t used them before.
Upstairs is a large combination of doctor’s practices for the local residents, which is accessed by two lifts. It is well signed, so it is easy to locate.
There is a large Barclays bank and Natwest building society in the centre, as well as a Lloyds bank outside and opposite the Boots chemist, so cash points are not a problem to find.
There is free wifi in and around the Cleveland Centre, so working in the coffee shops is easy enough.
There are two foreign currency exchanges located at opposite ends of the building, and there is a large post office downstairs in WH Smiths.
There are quite a few little car parks with very reasonable rates dotted around Middlesbrough - definitely cheaper than other towns or cities! Above the Cleveland Centre is around 600 spaces, but it is a bit pricey.
It is a minutes drive from the A66 and half an hour from pretty much anywhere else in Teesside, so it really is central. Newcastle, York, the coast and the North York Moors can all be easily reached by car, bus or train, so there is plenty of scope for day trips around the region.
The North York Moors are worth visiting as the beauty of the moors is vast and breathtaking, and there are plenty of places to visit, such as Captain Cook’s monument, or the iconic Roseberry Topping hilltop feature. These can all be reached if you take a bus from the bus station to the market town of Guisborough.
Historic York is great for a day trip, with the Jorvick Museum, the Rambles shopping lanes and the the York Minster being must see attractions.
Newcastle is where you want to go for great shopping and an entertaining night out! The Metro shopping centre can be reached from Middlesbrough direct via train.
The Holiday Inn facing Centre Square is a large one, but there is a Jury’s Inn a few minutes walk past the town hall, towards the cinema and football grounds. MIMA, Linthorpe Road, the Riverside Stadium, Centre Square and easy buses to Whitby, Guisborough, Newcastle and York give plenty of options for day trips.
MIMA art gallery always has different displays and events on and also has a good cafe called the Smeltery. The views from the rooftop over the town is superb, and you can see as far as the Cleveland Hills. The Dorman Museum next to Albert Park on Linthorpe Road has many interesting displays all year round, and is great for kids, especially the science section.
Albert Park is a short walk away along Linthorpe Road, and has tennis courts, park runs and a large duck pond, which is fun for the kids. The nearest Golf courses would be Middlesbrough Golf Club and Middlesbrough Municipal Golf Course. Both of them would require a car, but could be reached in around 10 minutes if you were travelling from the town centre.
The Saltholme Wildlife Reserve is on the other side of the river Tees as you head towards Hartlepool. The reserve is a popular bird sanctuary and It takes around 15 minutes to get there, and you can reach it by heading towards the A19 and following directions, or you could drive towards the Transporter Bridge and go across on this historic ferry bridge. Worth every penny of the very reasonable charge!
The town is small and it is really hard to get disorientated if you stick to the main roads. There are plenty of little treasures, art galleries and restaurants hidden away, so don’t be afraid to explore, either on foot or by car!
There are no real safety issues in and around the Cleveland Centre, although you need to keep your eyes open a bit walking down Linthorpe Road or any of the quieter streets.
Don’t be scared to venture into Middlesbrough’s new ‘Cultural Quarter’ of Bedford Street and Baker Street. It is full of top quality independent coffee shops, eateries, micro pubs and other outlets. It is a one street walk away and is two streets of great drink and food with exceptional service because they are all owner-led businesses.
And don’t forget everything else that is a short distance away from the town centre. Everything in Teesside is accessible by bus or train, and because the area is compact you can get anywhere very quickly without any traffic problems.
The moors and the coastal stretch are well worth a visit by bus for the best that North Yorkshire has to offer! Recommended villages to visit are Runswick Bay with it’s golden stretch of beach and Sands Ends in the summer for a walk in the walk and along the beach front. Whitby Abbey and the little side streets are a must!