Gone Fishin’


We are going to be out of the office for a few days.  We have pre-scheduled a number of new posts but will not be in a position to publish any new comments until next week.  

Please keep your comments coming as these are what make the site what it is… we will be back on deck on Tuesday…

Thanks for your support.


Class from William Newton School c1971/72

t14906Back Row (l-r): Judy Peacock, ??, Janet Bartram, Hazel Pratt, Maureen Boardman, Dorothy Ashworth, Julie Ellis, Mary Rowntree, Elaine Iceton. Middle Row (l-r): ??, Annette Jenkins, Alison Southeran, ?? ??, Jacky Simpson, ??, ??. Front Row (l-r): ??, ??, Sylvia Stott, Carol Lawson, Mrs Hazleton, ??, ??, ??, ??.

Photograph and details courtesy of Maureen Lonsdale nee Boardman.

Billingham Carnival Queen 1954

t15080This is a photograph from Colin Hatton’s collection, which I am slowly working my way through renovating them for him and this is one of my favourites.

This picture was taken on Cowpen Lane between Central Avenue and Belasis Avenue, in the backgroud are the old Billingham Baths and the low light coloured building is the dreaded “Clinic”, this is where the school children of Billingham went for their Polio jabs amongst other equally unpleasant events, the baths are long gone but I believe the clinic buildings are still there and are used as industrial units.

The wagon behind the young ladies has a sign above it, the I think the first word is “Lime” and the second may be “Orange”, this leads me to think it is a “Pop” delivery wagon, the company could possibly be Somebody & Sons, has anybody any recollections of such a company?

Behind the car is a man on a bike with a child sitting on the crossbar , in Billingham this form of giving a lift was called “A Croggy”, across the great divide in Middlesbrough this was known as “A Tan”, were there any other variations around this area?.

I think this was a photo stop, possibly for the local press, the girls are all smiling toward somebody or something just out of shot to the left, also there is no driver, the man to the right looks as if he may have a notebook in his hand, a Billingham Express reporter perhaps, the person who took this photo was likely part of the crowd and was lucky to be at the right place at the right time, a very nice piece of social history.

Details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Granville Cooper meets the Queen

t15079An interesting photograph has just come into my possession. It show one of our regular contributors meeting Her Majesty the Queen at Cologne in 1992, during the opening of the joint venture Project for European Wind Tunnel between Great Britain, France, Holland and Germany. The Project was in connection with the development of the Airbus. Gran as we all know him is the gentleman far right shaking the Queens hand. Gran was the Project Site Manager. This was one of many Major Projects that Gran was associated with Managing as many as 5000 men one particular Project.Not bad for an ex Head Wrightson Apprentice Templatemaker at Stockton Forge Works. Gran was educated at the old Stockton Secondary Grammar School in Nelson Terrace.
Gran played football for South Bank, Whitby Town, Billingham Synthonia, The RAF while on National Service in Singapore where he won the player of the year award. Recognised as the old type bustling centre forward Anon my remember him in the local leagues before he moved up in the standard of play he finally achieved.

Photograph and details courtesy of Ben Brown.

The Somme Remembered, Yarm

The Yarm 1914 Commemoration Group held a series of events to remember The Battle of the Somme including an exhibition in Yarm High Street, poignantly centred around the town hall war memorial. There were stalls with memorabilia of the period both from the war front and home front, a horse drawn field ambulance – minus the horse, an army farrier – minus the horse and a display of the modern Army by the Yorkshire Regiment – with modern motorised horses! A stage had also been set up and choirs from both Conyers and Yarm schools entertained the large crowds as did Mike McGrother and the Stockton based male voice choir, Infant Hercules whose medley of wartime songs brought the exhibition to a rousing close.

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson

Norton High Street

t15004Looking toward Stockton, to the left of centre is an oval island with the ever present ‘Old Boys’ sitting on park benches, also on the island is a lamp post with an acorn shaped glass bowl similar in shape to the paraffin lamps used on Stockton market, could it possibly be a gas lamp? There were still some in Billingham at this time but of the more traditional shape.

There are some cars including a pre-war model and a number of bicycles to be seen as well as some very substantial iron ‘Keep Left’ signs. I also noticed that there are no smoking chimneys and an acute shortage of television aerials, about five years after these pictures were taken practically every house would have at least one television aerial and sometimes two.

There must be Nortonians visiting this site that can remember Norton as shown in these pictures and quite possibly will remember some of the shops and what they sold, the Tobacconist and Sparks are easy to spot but what about the others?

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Merv James, Lustrum Beck

t15077This is the earliest photograph taken of me, Mervyn William James.  It was taken at Lustrum beck, my pockets filled with Dinky Toys. I lived at Stavordale Road, Newtown, then moved to Ragpath Lane, Roseworth. I went to Newtown primary/Junior school, then Frederick Nattrass.  I started work at Archer Parkin and Townsend, solicitors then became a constable in the Teesside Police, prior to emigrating to Australia in November 1974.

Photograph and details courtesy of Merv James

The Attic, Nelson Terrace

t15075This is The Attic it was my wife’s aunt and uncle, Kathy and Harry Parker’s second antique shop on Nelson Terrace.
Their first Attic shop was on the corner near the American Tavern and when that was redeveloped in about 1971/72 they moved to the above shop which had previously been “Boobs” a trendy clothes boutique.
Around 1973/74 they moved next door to Tate’s which was larger.
They also lived and had a shop on Norton Road near the Turks Head which had been a watch makers and for a short while had a stall in the Shambles.

Photograph and details courtesy of Norman Hill.

Nightime View of ICI and Freightliner Terminal c1968

t15052The Freightliner site was able to operate at night as the flood lighting shows. The lights of ICI Billingham stretch across the horizon and it is just possible to see some of the major buildings silhouetted against the glow. Can anyone say what they are?

A few years earlier, the lights were more like Blackpool illuminations and even more spectacular, as most of the industrial lighting at ICI then seems to have been of the mercury vapour type. This tended to produce a variety of colours that were not pure white. By the time this photograph was taken the cheaper, yellowish/orange low pressure sodium lighting had become the predominant form at Billingham.

Photograph and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

Clevo Flour Mill c1970

A series of photographs showing the demolition of the Clevo. The mill closed in the 1960s and was demolished in June 1970.

The Odeon c1960s

t15055A photograph of the Odeon showing ‘The Young Doctors’ initially released in 1961, Stockton High Street.





t15076I have taken a snapshot from a BFI.org video that shows the Cinema in Stockton High Street, it was the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton to Darlington Railway in July 1925, the video is well worth watching in it’s own right. There are some interesting shots of steam trains from the beginning of the railways and up to when the film was made in 1925, the unveiling of the plaque on the ticket office is also shown in the film as well as the crowds thronging the High Street, the film has no sound but in true silent movie tradition it displays placards with relevant information. The film can be found at: http://player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-the-official-film-of-the-railway-centenary-1925/

Stockton Cycling Festival, June 2016

The British Cycling National Road Championships made an exhilarating end to the Stockton Cycling Festival on Sunday 26 June as the sport’s best UK competitors took off from Stockton High Street to lap a challenging out of town circuit before returning to the historic Town Centre for a thrilling finale. Mark Cavendish was pipped into second place in an exhilarating sprint finish by Adam Blythe who was able to hold off the former world champion along a packed High Street.

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

Widening of Church Row c1934

t492Extracts from Council Minutes – Church Row Sub Commitee 1934-1935…

’Commencement of work on Church Row. Work was commenced on Monday the 10th instance and proceeding at present in the Churchyard. The footpath is being moved and material excavated to the New Road level. Any remains met with will be removed to Durham Cemetery with proper care and reverence. The arrangements are to be made for the work being commenced upon the Potrack side of the Road on the land known as Robsons Land as soon as possible, notice being given to any tenant of any part thereof terminating the tenancy. The shrubs in the cattle market are being moved preparatory to commence work there in the New Year. Arrangements are also being made to commence work at the other end of The Scheme early in the New Year so that proper entry can be made to the Railway Land. There were 8 tenders submitted for approx 2000 tons of cement. The tender from Industrial Chemicals Industry Ltd of Billingham to supply 2000 tons of Rapid Hardening Portland Cement for the sum of £4387 10s 0d being at the rate of £2 5s 0d per ton less 2% discount. Subject to a contract being entered into in terms to the satisfaction of the council. The number of men employed at present apart form the Foreman and Timekeeper is 17. It is proposed to treat the labour on the Church Row Scheme as nearly as possible the same as the Unemployment Relief Schemes carried out in the past. Whenever possible men will be changed every eight weeks and apart from Christmas Day and Sundays they will be given the opportunity of working at ordinary rates (by ballot) on all other holidays.’

HOC Office Billingham

t15054I haven’t got a date for this photograph but I think it was taken before 1940 and even possibly before 1930. When I was growing up in Billingham in the 1950s this office block was a well known landmark, the “Sawtooth” roof could be seen from everywhere in the Belasis Avenue area and up to St. Johns school on Cowpen Lane.

During the 1950s the brick frontage was completely covered in Ivy and the main office was painted in camouflage colours, also the car on Chiltons Avenue looks to be of 1920s manufacture. The picture was taken from just inside the ICI West Gate.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Tank Waggons on the Clarence Railway in 1985

t15005 t15005aThe top view shows the Seaton Carew Road and surroundings, in Port Clarence, from the north side of the Transporter. The side of the bridge can just be seen, and in the far distance is the Hartlepool AGR nuclear reactor. Anderston’s magnificent iron foundry, which was on the river side of the railway, but in alignment with the road junction, has been replaced with two plastic coated corrugated steel buildings.

These were the standard form of industrial steel building in the 70s and 80s, the technique having been developed at Dorman Long. They still seem to be in existence. The brick buildings in the middle foreground, possibly dating from the 1950s, and look disused, have now been demolished.

The other image, which is an expanded view, shows four tank waggons, probably carrying oil or chemicals to or from the vastly expanded chemical complex and oil terminal on the north bank of the Tees. Note the large tank farm in the top view on the horizon.

Photograph and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

St. John Ambulance Brigade, Billingham ICI Division

t15044St. John Ambulance Brigade (Billingham ICI Div.) en route to inspection in London, 1954. The St. John Ambulance Brigade had an annual inspection every year, at Sir Leonard Ropner’s estate in Bedale, but in 1954 they attended the grand gathering in London, where they appeared before the Queen in a grand march-past.  The photograph was taken on Billingham Green, before departure.  Remembered personnel are: Frank Eley (2nd. from lt.), Bob McDowell (5th from lt.), Bill Burns (7th from lt.), Alec Geddes, Div. Officer F. E. Shaw, Ralph Fernie.   Family members in the bus:  front two windows; John Fernie; your humble servant in silhouette; Mrs. Shaw, my mother and another unidentified lady; remainder unidentified.

Photograph and details courtesy of Malcolm Shaw.

Class from William Newton School c1970/71

t14905Back Row (l-r): ??, ??, Carol Lawson, Sylvia Stott, ?? Judy Peacock. Middle Row (l-r): Mary Rowntree, Maureen Boardman, ??, Alison Southeran, Jacky Simpson, Annette Jenkins, ??, Hazel Pratt. Front Row (l-r): ??, ??, Janet Bartram, Julie Ellis, Dorothy Ashworth, ??, Elaine Iceton, ??, ??. Can anyone fill in the blanks?

Photograph and details courtesy of Maureen Lonsdale nee Boardman.

Armed Forces Day on Stockton High Street, 2016

A number of organisations offering people the opportunity to find out about the past, present and future of the Armed Services was held on Stockton High Street today. There were a range of military and civilian support organisations; the World War Two re-enactment society with several military vehicles, regular Army Stands of Vehicles and information from The Yorkshire Regiment,1 Close Battalion REME and the Rifles. Museums from the Green Howards, Yorkshire Regiment and The Hough Battery Hartlepool, Local Regimental Association information stands, Army reserve stands from 243 Provo Coy, 201 Field Hospital, 282 MC Sqn, 50 Sigs Sqn and 124 Recovery Coy, The Drums Platoon of the Yorkshire Regiment, WW1/WW2 Singer Janie St John and Soprano Samantha Holden. Thursday 30 June 2016.

The Globe Revealed!

Work is due to remove the false wall from the front of The Globe Theatre so that an assessment can be carried out of the work needed to be done to restore it to it’s former glory. The ‘Bring The Stars Back To Stockton’ frontage is actually a large illustrated tarpaulin and I took the opportunity to take some photographs of it before it’s removal. What I had never noticed before were the inscribed steel expansion plates set into the pavement which list previous performers, the ones I could read were Buddy Holly and The Crickets in 1958 and Morecambe and Wise in 1952.

Photograph and details courtesy of David Thompson.

Norton High Street c1950s

t15003A photograph showing Norton High Street probably in the mid 1950s and judging by the length of the shadows I think it may be mid Summer…

The parade of shops lead off to the right and finish at The Yorkshire Penny Bank on the corner of Leven Road, I remember the bank having its name etched into all of its windows when I was working in Norton in the early 1960s, signage was much more restrained in those days.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Joseph Street VE Day Celebrations c1945

t14988This is the celebration that took place in Joseph Street, Portrack on VE Day 1945. I understand the object hanging above the residents is an effigy of Adolf Hitler. Joseph Street is where my paternal grandparents lived but would not be in this picture, they both died in 1944.

Photograph and details courtesy of John Robson.

British Cycling National Road Championships: Time Trial Event 2016

4 days. 2 wheels…The first riders taking part in the British Cycling National Road Championships -Time Trial Event left Stockton High Street at 1pm today; Thursday 23 June 2016. The world class cyclists tackle the circuit in a bid to put up the best time of the day and be crowned National Time Trial Champion!

For full event information visit www.stockton.gov.uk/scf 

Anderson Foundry Port Clarence 1969

t14978 t14978aThe Anderson Foundry at Port Clarence must have been something in it day, as can be seen from the design and sheer scale of the building. As with other pictures from 1969 this was taken from the Clarence railway embankment which over looks the river, just upstream of the Transporter. The name seems to be a slight corruption of what it should be called, the Anderston Foundry, the Port Clarence works being a branch of the original Glasgow company.

The map from 1938 shows the extensive sidings alongside the foundry, with an indication that the company had its own dock. I wonder if the size of the sidings suggest that this branch of Anderstons was engaged in mass production of castings. Does anyone know what they were specialising in?

Photographs and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

Railways around Stockton

t14976The photographs show Q6 steam loco no.63394 heading towards its home depot of Hartlepool and class 25 diesel no.D5160 coming off the Beck branch, taken on 14 January 1967.

t14977I believe this signal box controlled the junction with the Beck branch and also to the tracks which used to go to the engine shed and then over Norton Road and Church Road. What is interesting is that Network Rail currently has plans to have 10-20 regional signalling centres covering the whole country. When these photographs were taken in the 1960’s there were at least 10 signal boxes between Billingham station and Bowesfield Junction. I suppose they would say that’s progress.

Photographs and details courtesy of Garth McLean.