Work is set to start on a major revamp of a key part of Middlesbrough's historic heart.
The news comes as one of the town's iconic symbols - the statue of legendary ironmaster and founding father Henry Bolckow - celebrates its 140th birthday.
The figure, also set to benefit from cleaning and repair work, is the centrepiece of Exchange Square in Middlesbrough's Historic Quarter.
The Quarter - focused on the Grade II-listed railway station and extending north towards Middlehaven and south towards the town centre - is now benefiting from a £2 million funding boost through Historic England's High Street Heritage Action Zone programme.
Work will get under way later this month when contractor Meldrum Construction Services begins the full £640,000 overhaul of Exchange Square including:
- Enhancing the look of the square with hard surface upgrades, trees and planting, new street furniture and better lighting
- Cleaning and restoring the grade II-listed Henry Bolckow statue
- Creating inviting spaces where people want to spend time
- Complementing the architecture and character of the Conservation Area and supporting local businesses
The works are set to improve the area's commercial appeal and create a positive first impression of Middlesbrough for those arriving by rail.
The High Street HAZ scheme has also seen local businesses including Kalinka and Spensleys successfully apply for grants of up to £170,000 to help with repairs and restoration of empty or under-utilised buildings.
Councillor Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council's Executive member for Culture & Communities, said: "The Historic Quarter is one of the key gateways to Middlesbrough, so it's hugely important that we make the most of its huge potential.
"The Heritage Action Zone funding will breathe new life into some of our most important historic sites, while ensuring Middlesbrough is ready to fulfil its 21st Century potential."
Maria Carballeira at Historic England, said: “Middlesbrough's Historic Quarter was once the heart of the town’s thriving commercial district and is home to many elegant - but now underused - Victorian buildings.
“Through this grant scheme, we can help reinstate the local historic character and revitalise the area, transforming it into an attractive entrance into the town centre and a welcoming place for people to use and enjoy.”
To find out more about Middlesbrough's High Street Heritage Action Zone, email HAZ@middlesbrough.gov.uk.