Thornaby Tool Van Crane at Loughborough

t14877 t14878Photographs of the Thornaby Tool Van Crane taken on the Great Central Railway at Loughbrough on 27th August 2009. There was just the crane there, no vans with it. I got a bit of shock that day having worked on site with it during incidents in the North East and the last time I had seen it, it had toppled over at Ryhope Grange I think due to the operator over reaching a loaded HHA coal wagon. I thought it had long gone.

Photographs and details courtesy of Bill Adams.

2016 Vintage Bus Running Day

It was the annual Teesside Vintage Bus Running Day on Sunday, organised and run by the local 500 Group and as ever was based at the Middlesbrough side of the Transporter Bridge. This event is held every April and this year was the sixteenth ‘running day’ and they seem to grow more popular by the year with increases in both public who turn out to ride on the buses, and for free!, as well as an increase in vintage buses which come from all over the north east of England with the majority of them being group or privately owned. Without doubt a labour of love!

Although having its base on the wrong side of the Tees there were still some associations to Stockton including the 500 Groups own Dennis Loline double decker which was built in 1958 and took the public on various rides around the borough including a return to Stockton Town Hall as “the number 11 bus”. There was also a bus well known to me from my youth in Billingham, the number 52 which ran from Stockton High Street to Low Grange in Billingham.

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

Billingham Forum Programme for Double Dealer

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In recent times Prunella Scales along with her husband Timothy West have often been on our TV screens as they chug along the canal system in a selection of narrow boats. They have visited many parts of Britain and in the last series they were to be found in Sweden. In April 1973 the play the Double Dealer was showing at the Billingham Forum and as you can see it was directed by Prunella Scales. Amongst a large cast was the late Pete Postlethwaite.

Images and details courtesy of Martin Birtle.

Dredger on the Tees

t14862The wash form the steam tugs was believed to wear away the bank side.  It was the task of the TNC to maintain the riversides. The TNC turned to dredging the river to allow larger vessels, especially at the coal staithes, to move along the river unaided.

Dredging was used to create more depth to the river and allow ships easier passage.  Between 1845 and 1900 upwards of 34 million tons of material had been removed by dredging of the bed of the river.

Advert for Metro Vickers c1959

t14854This is an interesting advert from a 1959 Railways Illustrated magazine, showing how Stockton on Tees, was part of the modernisation plan for British Railways. the Metro Vick, CO-Bo’s, with their unusual wheel arrangement, built in the Bowesfield area, some former railway colleagues related to me that they could remember them brand new waiting for dispatch in the siding at Bowesfield Junction, though the design proved to be a poor one and did not last in service due to poor reliability.

The claim to fame with them was working the CONDOR freight service from Glasgow to London along the West Coast Main Line, which was highly publicised, even an oil painting was produced by Cuno the artist. Sadly they finished their days mostly at Carlise Upperby 12B and Carnfoth 10A, during 1966/68, I in fact saw a couple before they vanished at these depots, shame really.

Image and details courtesy of Bill Adams.

Unknown – Any ideas?

t14861Can anyone help identify the building in this photograph? The photograph was found in a box belonging to Sarah and Alice Walker. They were baptised in the Methodist Church chapel in Regent Street, Stockton-on-Tees, in 1884 and 1886. My grandmother, Emily Thorpe, was baptised in the Methodist New Connection Zion Chapel, again in Stockton, in 1888. I am sure this photograph predates them as ladies are dressed in crinolines.

Their father, Joseph Finkell Walker, also lived in Osmotherly and Yarm, and there are census records showing family members being born at Hornby, Guiseborough, North Allerton and Kirklevington. Their mother, Elizabeth Thorpe, was born in Norton, Durham. Any help would be much appreciated.

Photograph and details courtesy of Pat Moss.

Victoria Buildings c1895

t14857A view of the “Victoria Buildings” – it is a crying shame such a beautiful building should be knocked down. The architect has ranged far and wide for his ideas, some of the windows have Greek style arch decorations above them others have Roman style, the facade is topped off with Dutch style gables, these appear to be purely decorative because there doesn’t seem to be any structure behind them, if this is so then presumably the windows in the gables are false as well.

The two octagonal corner towers flare out from the building in a similar fashion to the castles seen in Hungary and Bavaria, the two domes don’t seem to be the normal copper clad variety as they seem to have a slight sheen as if painted instead of the matt look of the copper types. The shop fronts are terrifically high by modern standards, they are at least twice the height of the people in front of them, this would make them at least 12 feet high and possibly higher, I remember the frontages being made with highly polished dark wooden frames and glass which on the odd occasion would be curved.

Other things I have noticed are, directly behind the main building is a hip roof with a chimney stack, to my eye this doesn’t seem to be part of the main building but another building behind it, the chimney stack doesn’t have the black decorative band around it that the main building has and also the chimney pots vary in size unlike the main building.

Slightly to the left of the building is a bay windowed building with words across it just below the eaves, are there any sharp sighted visitors that can make out what the words are?.

The house behind the church has a strange looking object that appears to be perched on the top of the chimney, I have no idea as to what it could be, if it had been 50 years later I would have thought it to be a telegraph pole. Slightly to the left and in the distance is a curved roof box van of the type often seen being towed by steam rollers, these vans carried the tools and equipment used by road repair gangs, they were still in use when I was a child in the 1950s, this one appears to be horse drawn.

Some of the lamp post have cast iron bollards around them, were they hitching posts for the many horses to be seen in that era?, I have seen similar hitching posts in Europe and America where they often have a cast iron horses head perched on top of the post.

In the foreground is a young boy with another child on his back, I remember carrying my many brothers and sisters around in that fashion.

Just in front of the canopy of the leftmost shop is a black sign with two white ovals on it, surely it’s not ‘Specsavers’ circa 1895?

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Class 37 37036 and Ferry Vans – 1983

This photo was taken by myself on a sunny evening in October 1983.  Although I was focusing on the trains at the time, many years later, the background scenery is of as much historical interest, if not more so, than the trains. The large engineering shop was once part of the Ashmore, Benson & Pease complex, but was demolished in the late 1980s. The trainspotters among us will know that this photo shows a class 37 37036 hauling a rake of Ferry Vans to Middlesbrough goods depot. These Ferry Vans were designed to be transported to Europe on train ferries. This traffic ended when the channel tunnel was opened.

Photograph and details courtesy of Kevin McGowan.

Stockton High Street, c1895

t14850This Victorian photograph of the northern end of the High Street seems to have been taken from about the end of Wellington Street but in the middle of the High Street. To the left is a parade of shops with sun blinds extended, this is where you will now find Robinsons/Debenhams and The Globe Theatre. Robinsons was built in 1901 and the Globe in the mid 1930s, just past the shops but set back out of sight will be the North Eastern public house, which of course is still there, Bishopton Lane heads off to the left at the building that I have always known as Maxwells Corner, straight ahead is of course Norton Road which in later years housed such businesses as Chapmans Garage, Dickens Hardware and Cowies with their excellent motor cycle section in the basement. Off to the right is Church Road and St. Mary’s Church as well as the small set back section of road that stands in front of the Royal Oak, to the very right is a building which was replaced by a 1960s edifice which in turn has since disappeared, some of the buildings now long gone could possibly date back to the 1700 hundreds.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Parkwood Tipplers c1981

t14846A photograph of the ‘Parkwood Tipplers’ training for the first Great North run in 1981. The ‘Tipplers’ all lived in the Hartburn and Fairfield area of Stockton. They attended a keep-fit class at the Sixth Form College, Stockton on Monday evenings followed by a ‘put the world to right discussion’ over a pint in the Parkwood on Darlington Road, Stockton.

Photograph courtesy of Jack Cuthbert (third from the left), details courtesy of Richard Scott.

Vestiges of the Billingham Branch from Portrack Lane c1995

t14837 t14838These two photographs were taken from a new roundabout on Portrack Lane. This was built very close to a concrete road bridge which went over the Billingham Branch Line. The disused trackbed of the Billingham Branch leads to the Freight Liner terminal.

Does anyone know its official title? Was it the only one in the Teesside area? How did trucks get into the terminal? When did the Freight Liner close?

The embankments which border Lustrum Beck can be seen on the right of the photograph.

Photographs and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

Newtown School, 1956

t14845 t14845aThis photograph was taken in the school yard of Newtown School before we all went our separate ways some to Newham Grange and other schools.

With the help of a couple of school friends some years ago we managed to identify all but one face, can anyone help? He is standing on the back row between David Barrett on the left and Brian Crawford.

Here are a full list of the other names:-
Back row from left to right:- Joe Simpson, Vincent Costello, Kenneth Lake, David Hebron, Keith McQuade, Douglas Baker, Mervyn James, Albert Simpson, Earnest Allen, David Barret, (??), Brian Crawford, Michael Morgan, Tommy Mooney, Brian Swales, George Lambert, Mr Harker.
Middle row:- Miss Patterson, Raymond Walker, Judith Turner, Ann Hall, Maureen Burns, Cora Hall, Audrey Ferguson, Sybil Titterington, Margaret Grainger, Nancy Clark, Betty Doidge, Glenda Ellis, Beryl Bailey, Doreen Kerr, Beryl Kett, Linda Hart, Kenneth Harris, Brian Savage.
Front row:- Edith Oram, Pauline Ward, Carol Simmons, Norma Fenton, Catherine Hall, Kathleen Plummer, Headmaster Mr Wynn, Carol Storey, Mavis Clark, Brenda Ridley, Ann Matson/Lofthouse, Valerie Robson, Audrey Oliver.
Two sitting on the floor Tommy Ballantyne, George Steel.

Photograph and details courtesy of Brian Swales.

Grangefield Grammar School

t14836Reading the many comments about Grangefield Grammar School rules, there was a rule about cyclists only using the north driveway, we used to call it the back drive. I remember when I first got a car and for a dare, took it up the back drive one evening with two fellow students whose names I think were Ken Hornby and Brian Braithwaite.

Photograph and details courtesy of Garth McLean.

Class Photograph, Robert Atkinson School c1952

t14804A class photograph from 1952 showing pupils at Robert Atkinson School. These are the names I can remember…

Front Row (L to R): Kathleen Spens, Olga Thompson, Sheila Smith, Nancy Dale, Jean Hatfield (teacher), Eileen Brander, Dorothy Maynard, Pauline Gray, Eileen Dawson, Margaret Thomas.

Second Row (L-R): Marian Jones, Beryl Scott, Marlene Hunt, Lilian Southgate, Eileen Raine, Marian Lamb, Margaret Snowdon, Margot Jones, Sheila Thornburn, Mary Spence, Rita Underwood.

Third Row (L to R): Billy Tate, Jim Instone, Eric Fordy, Derek Worn, Allan Sanderson, Barry Chesser, Maurice Grey, Randolph McCartney, John Beeston, Keith Barker.

Back Row (L to R): Arthur Lynas, Graham Henderson, Donald Morrison, Geoff Dunwell, Don Mclaughlin, Jim Black, Maurice Thornton, Gavin Swainston, Joe Notman.

Photograph and details courtesy of Jim Black.

Portrack Boy, St. Annes Terrace c1949

t14826This photograph was taken by a street photographer who knocked on the door of 17 St. Annes Terrace and asked my mother if she would like a picture of her little boy. Virtually no one in Portrack at would have had a camera, so it was a real opportunity for her to have a good picture of me. It was such an unusual event I remember it clearly, being aged about seven.

The photograph shows how a reasonably well off boy from the working classes would dress at the time. Shorts, cotton shirt, jersey and leather boots. Rationing was still in force, so I would not have had underpants and probably not a vest. The jersey would have been home knitted by my grandma, who owned the house. The jersey would have been a much better quality and warmer than what could be bought off a market stall. The socks would have been made of wool, tending to wear out quickly and would have needed darning at least once. Quite literally, a housewife’s work was never done.

The house still exists and was built in 1935. At the time it had a wooden fence and gate. Like all the other houses in this short “modern” block we also had a privet hedge which completely overshadowed the postage stamp of a front garden and was a pain to cut. Modern pictures show the fence and the hedge to have vanished. The house was sold for £1100, very roughly, a very good annual wage at the time.

Photograph and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

Jolly Japes at the Metropole

t14835I think this photograph was taken before the war (?) and shows L to R: Fred Robinson (Garage owner), George Winpenny (Gents outfitter), Hunter Martin (Tailor). In front on the hobby horse is S.D. Thorn (Manager of Kinnells Foundry, Thornaby). Taken in the Metropole Hotel.

Photograph and details courtesy of Anthony Bonner.

Stockton Parade ‘Mannequins’ at Hill Carters c1933

t14830My mother Margaret Taylor was a model for D Hill, Carter & Co., in both photographs she is wearing a Wedding dress from the new Autumn bridal collection at a fashion parade at Hill Carters on Stockton High Street on October 12, 1933.

In the 1940s, then Margaret Oliver, she worked in Audrey’s dress shop which was opposite the Globe Cinema before moving to work for many years in Robinsons on the fabric counter.

Photographs and details courtesy of Ken Oliver.



1st Wolviston Boy Scouts c1956

t14832This is a photograph of The 1st Wolviston Boy Scout Troup heading out to our annual weeks camp, I think it was to Staindrop in 1956, I could be wrong as it was a long time ago. Our Skipper or General Scout Master was Johnny Antrobus from Billingham, I look back and realise how much time and effort he put in to Scouting with no real recognition of his good work. He ran our troop with lots of fun and discipline, it was somewhere we all looked forward to going to every Friday Night. I believe Skip and Scouting gave me a good start in life. Some of our members I am still in touch with to this day.

Some of the names I can remember in this photograph are Alan Bell, George Caldwell, Oswald Dodds, Keith Humble, Brian Humble, Richard Nelson, Keith Nesbitt, Keith Parnaby, Derek Redfearn, Graham Smith, Dave Tatchell, Billy Woodall, Alan Weedall, George Walker, Dennis Young and the Pinder brothers whose first names I can’t remember.

Photograph and details courtesy of Ian Dalrymple.

Madge Loughran of Airton Street, Stockton

The first photograph is of my mother aged 6, she was one of three daughters who lived in Airton Street, Stockton. She was called Margaret (Madge) Loughran.

The second photograph was taken in 1929 and shows my mother on her Wedding Day stood in the doorway of St. Mary’s RC Church at ‘Tilery’. Margaret May Loughran became Margaret May Gilhooley.

Photographs and details courtesy of Paul Gilhooley.

Billingham Express c1968

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I’ve just come across a copy of the Billingham Express from 1968. It was full of interesting stories from the area and there was even a photograph of a couple getting married. To my utter amazement I used to work with the chap at Harkers Engineering. How many other people can pick up a forty eight year old newspaper and know somebody inside? Does anyone remember how long this publication ran for?

Images and details courtesy of Mike Bellerby.