Middlesbrough is located in one of the most famous railway regions in the world, having been the birthplace of the first commercial railway in history in the early 19th century. The importance of Middlesbrough has grown over the centuries as it acts as a link between a number of lines running through the east coast, north-east and northern England. Northern Rail operates most routes passing through Middlesbrough, including those from Darlington to Saltburn, and the service to Middlesbrough from Whitby. Northern Rail also operates services to Middlesbrough from Newcastle and Sunderland. First TransPennine Express operates a further service to Middlesbrough from Manchester Ringway International Airport, which also passes through York and Leeds.
The town of Middlesbrough owes much of its existence to the emergence of the railways in the north east of England. Following the development of the Darlington and Stockton Railway the town developed from a farming village to an important trading centre. The history of development within the the area throughout the 19th century and into the 21st is charted through the stunning architecture of the region, which includes a large number of grade II listed buildings from the mid-19th century onwards. Visitors are always impressed by the gothic architecture of Middlesbrough railway station, designed by acclaimed station architect William Peachey. The Empire Palace of varieties within the city centre is also striking in its design. Visitors looking to explore the history of the townsfolk can explore the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, which gives a fascinating glimpse into the life of the famous English explorer. No trip to the north-east of England would be complete without a visit to one of the many iconic football grounds. Middlesbrough's excellent Riverside Stadium is a fine example of a modern sports venue, populated each week by die hard fans creating an electric atmosphere.