German Airman’s Funeral, December 1939

t15087This photograph shows an RAF parade at the burial of a German airman in Thornaby Cemetery the picture is dated 12th December 1939.

At the head of the leftmost line of marching airmen is my Grandfather Sidney H. Leek, he has two badges on his greatcoat sleeve, one on the shoulder and one on the upper arm, he would have been around 40 years of age when this picture was taken but the company may have been reservists, my Grandfather had been in the RAF during the 1920s so he probably had reserved status.

I seem to remember that a service for the German airman was held at Thornaby cemetery a few years ago and it was well attended.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

View of Holme House Farm 1969

t15088As can be seen, Holme House Farm was still in its original condition, surrounded by fields. This view is taken from somewhere near the Rocks Field in Portrack. I know for certain that the crops included potatoes and barley.

During potato picking week, which was a half term, a the end of October, infuriatingly just before Bonfire night, older working class kids and young men, from Tilery, Portrack and Swainby Road, lined up near Blackett’s bridge over the beck to be chosen for a day’s potato picking by the farmer. Only the stronger and rougher looking types would get a job. I tried a couple of times without success.

Photograph and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

Stephenson Hall Teachers, 1960/61

t15083 t15084These photographs were taken at a football match between the teaching staff and the pupils in the 1960/61 school year.

The teachers are as follows:- Back Row (L to R): Mr Tomlinson, Mr Coates, Mr Barker, Mr Golightly, Mr Chapman, Mr Cowperthwaite, Mr Boddy. Front Row (L to R): Mr Wilkinson, Mr Wood, Mr Crozier, Mr Jack, Mr Wing, Mr Carroll

I was taught by all of these teachers except Mr Carroll. The only other male teachers from that period I can remember are Mr Shepherd, he taught French and Mr Wilkinson Snr. Many of these teachers are no longer with us but Mr Barker, Mr Wood and Mr Crozier were all at out last reunion in November 2015 as well as Miss Landells. I am sure many of these teachers will be remembered by numerous Billingham residents.

I have included the opposing team of pupils for that match but I only have some of their names. Back row (L to R): ??, ??, ??, Les Crank, ??, ??. Front Row (L to R): ??, Trevor Crawford, Don Jamieson, John Mitchell, ??, ??. If anybody can put any names to any of these faces please do so.

Photographs and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Portrait of Rhoda Caroline Eliza Shotton neé Fisk

t15082This photographic print shows my maternal grandmother, born 21st October 1889, who worked in domestic service at various locations including Preston Hall which is where she met my grandfather, Robert Shotton, marrying in 1914. I imagine this photograph was taken in the first decade of the 20th century.

Their courtship and the etiquette of the time meant she had to leave that employment. At the time of her marriage she was living at 4 Galpin (possibly Gilpin?) Street, Stockton, and they lived at various locations, including Billingham Station where by that time my grandfather was employed. They spent many years living at Vicarage Street in Stockton before moving in the 1960s to be nearer my mother and aunt in Darlington.

Photograph and details courtesy of Melanie Plumley.

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 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:

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.