Caldecotes (12th century, 1301) “cold cottages”. Old English cald, plural calde, + cot. Cauldgate Fleet (1666) Old English cald + Middle English gate “a road” with river name fleot Old English “a place where water flows”. Cleveland Port (1733) Cargo Fleet (1735). The transition from Cauldgate to Cargo may be the result of popular etymology. The fleet was a place where cargoes were handled regularly.

This interpretation is based on “The Place-Names of the North Riding of Yorkshire”, A.H.Smith (1928) and other secondary sources.

Domesday Book

There is no mention of Caldecotes (Cargo Fleet) in Domesday Book. It was part of the township of Ormesby where, according to the Domesday commissioners, there were 12 carucates of land for which tax had to be paid. That might have amounted to around 1,500 acres, or about half the acreage of the township. When untaxed land is taken out of the calculations, there’s a reasonable chance that one of the 12 carucates was at Caldecotes. However, there is very lttle chance of ever being able to prove this.

See William Farrer’s translation in “The Victoria History of the County of York” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1912).

Early Landowners Arnald de Percy of Kildale held Cargo Fleet in the 12th century. At that time, it was known as Caldecotes. The Percy family had Caldecotes until it passed by marriage to Robert Conyers whose grandson John Conyers was buried in Ormesby church in 1438. During the 16th century, the Strangways family possessed Caldecotes until James Pennyman acquired the estate along with Ormesby at the close of Elizabeth I’s reign.

See “The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Yorkshire North Riding” vol. 2 (ed.) W.Page (1923).

An Early Mention

The History of Cleveland in the North Riding of the County of York” J.Graves (1808): ‘The soil, produce, and general appearance of the parish (of Ormesby) are subjects that next demand the reader’s attention; upon which we may briefly remark, that the lands here, two thirds of which are now in tillage, and in a complete state of cultivation, are as favourable to the different branches of agriculture, as any within the district; having, besides a soil in general fertile, the advantage of an excellent port upon the river Tees, called Cargo-Fleet, or Cleveland-Port, where extensive and commodious granaries have been erected, and from whence at least two thirds of the whole produce of Cleveland are shipped, and sent coastwise to London, Newcastle, and other markets.

               The goods exported are corn, butter, cheese, pork, and bacon; and the imports timber, hemp, flax and iron, with coals and lime from the north. To give the reader some idea of the importance of this comparatively small out port, we may remark, that the trade carried on here, according to the statement we have received, amounts upon an average to about 1000l. a day, throughout the year.’

The Lay Subsidy of 1301

We know that there was a settlement here in 1301 because it is specified in the tax returns under its old name of Caldecotes. However, for tax purposes Caldecotes and Ormesby were lumped together and it isn’t possible to identify which taxpayers had property in Caldecotes and which in Ormesby.

Derived from “Yorkshire Lay Subsidy” edited by W.Brown (Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series)(1897).

Selected Buildings

Cargo Fleet toll bar (1854) now derelict.

Cargo Fleet Iron Company Offices (1916)

The Navigation Inn (19th century)

A Few Lost Buildings

Customs Row (1831) demolished in the 1980s.

Cargo Fleet windmill (standing in the 1850s)

The Crown Inn (mid 19th century) demolished in 1987.

St. Philip’s Mission (1878) demolished in 1940.

Railway Station (1885) closed in 1990, then demolished.

Lawson Senior School (1913) demolished in the 1960s.

Tees-side Railless Traction Board depot (1915).

Some People of Note

Alexander Brodie Cochrane (1813-1863) An ironmaster from Dudley who set up the Ormesby Ironworks at Cargo Fleet in 1854.

Kevin Howley (1924-1997) A football referee, born in Cargo Fleet. In 1960 he became the youngest person to referee an F.A. cup final.

Beryl Musgrave (            -2013) A well-known soprano. In 1972 she married the Czech composer Antonin Tupacsky and they lived in London from 1975.

The Hearth Tax of 1673

Caldecotes is not named in the returns for this national tax. No research has been done to see if any properties in Caldecotes can be identified among the returns for Ormesby parish.

See “The Hearth Tax List for the North Riding of Yorkshire, Michaelmas 1673, Ripon Historical Society (2011).


1851     The population of Cleveland Port in 1851 was 107.

1911     Population of Cargo Fleet 682 (estimated)


White’s Directory of 1840 referred to “Cleveland Port, or Cargo Fleet, on the River Tees . . . where large vessels receive and discharge their cargoes by means of lighters from Stockton, and where there is a a commodious wharf, with granaries, &c. The trade carried on at Cleveland Port, in corn, coal, &c. formerly averaged £1,000, but . . . it has greatly declined in its commerce.”

According to Kelly’s Directory of 1913 the small industrial village of Cargo Fleet had no less than 9 general shopkeepers, 3 grocers, a butcher, 3 fried fish dealers, 2 boot repairers, 2 haidressers, a newsagent, a dairyman and the Co-operative Store. This may not have been a complete list.

A Selection of Dates

1119     Robert de Brus granted land at Caldecotes to Guisborough Priory.

c.1614 There was a granary on Cawkers Nab, near where Ormesby Beck entered the River Tees.

1624     John Crispe had a works at Cawkers Nab where the process of “redding alum” was carried out.

1666     A document of this date refers to Cauldgate Fleet.

1727     A customs officer was based at what we now call Cargo Fleet from this date, if not earlier.

1733     The earliest written evidence of a wharf here dates from this year.

1735     The name Cargo Fleet was in use, although it was sometimes known as Cleveland Port in those days.

1808     Rev. John Graves wrote that at least two thirds of all the agricultural produce of Cleveland was shipped from Cargo Fleet.

1831     Queen’s Row was built to house the customs officers. It was later known as Customs Row.

1842     The opening of Middlesbrough Dock led to a rapid fall in the trade of Cargo Fleet.

1846     The Middlesbrough to Redcar Railway opened. A station called Cleveland Port came into use the following year.

1852     The Tees Ironworks was constructed near Cargo Fleet by Gilkes, Wilson and Leatham (later Wilsons, Pease and Co.)

1854     The Ormesby Ironworks was established near Cargo Fleet by Cochrane and Company.

1858     The  Normanby Ironworks was erected near Cargo Fleet by Jones, Dunning and Company.

1864     Swan, Coates and Company was formed. They built the Cargo Fleet Iron Works which began production in 1866.

1867     Cleveland Port was officially renamed Cargo Fleet.

1878     A Mission Room was opened. It later became St. Philip’s.

1879     The Cargo Fleet Iron Company was formed to take over the Cargo Fleet Iron Works.

1884     A Baptist Mission was opened.

1885     A  new station was built  about a quarter of a mile west of the original station which it replaced.

1891     A terrace of twelve houses was built and named Prospect Place.

1902     After the old Cargo Fleet Iron Works was demolished the fully integrated Cargo Fleet Steel Works was constructed.

1903     Miss Elizabeth Caroline Brown created a new housing estate.

1907     Lawson Primary School opened in temporary premises.

1913     Lawson Senior School opened.

1916     The Cargo Fleet Iron Company built an impressive block of offices on South Bank Road.

1919     The Tees-Side Railless Traction Board began running trolley buses from its depot at Cargo Fleet to North Ormesby, South Bank and Grangetown.

               Later Middlesbrough Corporation ran the “G” bus service from Thorntree to the Middlesbrough Exchange through Cargo Fleet.

1926     The Tees-Side Railless Traction Board began running buses as well as trolley buses.

1927     Cargo Fleet Wharf set a British record by discharging 5,536 tons of iron ore in 39 hours.

1940     Two bombs fell on the Cargo Fleet Works during a wartime air raid.

1959     Normanby Ironworks closed.

1964     Lawson Senior School was closed. Pupils were transferred to Southlands School.

1971     The trolley buses stopped running. Ormesby Ironworks was closed.

1977     Lawson Infants School closed. The building was still standing forty years later, almost the only survivor of Cargo Fleet village.

1980     Customs Row was demolished about this date.

1982     By this time, most of the properties of Cargo Fleet had been demolished.

1986     The A66 road from Penrith and Scotch Corner was extended past Cargo Fleet. The roundabout at the Cargo Fleet Lane junction was built on the site of dover Street and Chester Street.

1987     Prince Charles opened a park near Cargo Fleet Wharf.

1990     Cargo Fleet railway station was closed.

2006     MPI Offshore was formed. The company operated from Cargo Fleet Wharf, where their huge wind farm installation vessels were moored.

2008     The first British Car Drifting Championship was held at Teesside Autodrome at Cargo Fleet.

This list of dates was compiled using “North Ormesby and Cargo Fleet” by P.Stephenson (2003) and other secondary sources.

Suggested Further Reading

P.Stephenson “North Ormesby and Cargo Fleet” (2003)

D.W.Pattenden “Cargo Fleet or Cleveland Port” in C.T.L.H.S. Bulletin 48 (1985)