Victory’s Children, Barnard Street, Thornaby c1945









A photograph taken in May 1945 of a VE Day Party, Barnard Street, Thornaby.

Front left: Ken Morrison, behind him standing is Madge Costello and Mary Haycock (Hudson), next to Ken is Ray Costello, Gladys Fulton (Godwin), Beryl Scott (Story), Eileen Haycock (Henderson), Ray Fulton, head of table is Bill Crone, behind him Dorothy Crone (Toulson), then to the right below is Jack Haycock who is almost hidden by fingers, the top of Ronald Scott, Tony Paleschi, David Green, Kathleen Haycock (Alder) then front right with hat is Rita Wilson (Wood).

To read the full story of ‘Victory’s Children’ visit

Details courtesy of Derek Smith.

29 thoughts on “Victory’s Children, Barnard Street, Thornaby c1945

  1. I was born and lived in 4 CHELMSFORD STREET until 1955 we moved to a council house in Avon Close. There was my Dad & Mam Frank and Lily Bage, my elder sister Freda born 1938 myself Frances born 1940 and my brother David born Dec 1944. I went to Queen Street School. I also went to the Salvation Army until I was 16. One of my friend was Charlie wright he lived No2.
    Mr & Mrs Hall lived on the corner and had the coal business. I used to do messages for them as they were in not very good health. I remember they let me into their front room to watch the Coronation on the television. I was friends with Marlene Paleschi and as we grew older spent many hour in the ice cream shop at the Five Lamps. Really happy days in the ice cream parlour.


    Victory’s Children, one of the region’s most successful oral history exhibitions opened in Thornaby Central Library last month. First shown at Preston Hall Museum in Stockton, the show follows the lives of a group of young Thornaby residents who were photographed at a 1945 Victory party.

    This touching story of Post War Britain began four years ago when documentary film producer Derek Smith was given the photo of a VE Day children’s party taken outside the house where he was born at 11 Barnard Street in Thornaby. Derek was instantly captivated. He recognised his aunt and uncle but who were the other children and what had happened to them over the years? The fascination led him to track down and interview the survivors along with the siblings of those who died in places as far afield as Dallas, Texas.

    After the hugely popular launch at Preston Hall Museum visitors brought in more photographs in response and Derek was able to assemble some new panels. A panel on Rita Wilson for example who is pictured at the front of the picture in a bow peep hat was created as a result. Her niece Anne saw the exhibition and persuaded her aunt to contribute family photographs.

    Derek said today: “Sadly three of our original children have passed away since this project began so Victory’s Children is emerging as a valuable piece of social history. I’m hoping that the Library exhibition will generate more photos and stories on the street for our on going story”. He added: “Two years have passed since the Preston Hall showing, and I know there are many Thornaby people who are still keen to see the exhibition. I’m delighted that the Library are able to present it. Thornaby Central Library is popular so it is the perfect venue”

    The Victory’s Children exhibition at Thornaby Central Library runs until Friday 9 June 2017.

    Derek will be presenting his documentary “Victory’s Children” about the Barnard Street children at Thornaby Central Library, Thursday 1 June, 7.30pm. All welcome. Call 01642 528117 if you require further information.


  3. Thornaby Memories 1948: Whenever I think about Barnard Street, my thoughts invariably drift towards recalling an Barnard Street family – who were stalwarts in the Salvation Army – quiet folk who on Sunday’s could be spotted in Barnard Street proudly wearing their Church Army uniforms. What’s strange to relate is they never spoke to any children that they passed playing in the street or tried to convert them to their faith? For what it’s worth, I never saw a vicar, priest or parson in this street, from this you could deduce perhaps that to be saved you had to go to church otherwise the doors of heaven were closed to you, and to make matters worse you did not qualify for a goodwill visit from your local church leaders? One wonders did these religious bods ever call in to the Fire station, the Police station, or the local Head Wrightson Engineering works to preach goodwill to all men?
    With regards to religious festivals Christmas and Easter was observed, but only in the sense that homes during the Xmas period were decorated with decorations at Christmas time, with some decorating the windows with a thin piece of silver tinsel draped across the glass, whilst at Easter, some had rows of chocolate Easter Eggs prominently placed on the window ledge presumably to impress passersby. I remember at an earlier date chickens eggs were dyed with coloured food dyes for Easter, but in Barnard Street most egg dyers used good old tea. My Scots mother thought putting chocolate Easter eggs and silver tinsel in your windows was rather tacky and she said it was typical of the Sassenachs. To crack a joke or two, my mother was the only woman in Thornaby who gave her children Easter eggs made from powdered egg and we had so many shoes from the mail order catalogue club that we all had club feet, therefore as you can imagine It was an eye opener for me going to London and eventually visiting areas like Ascot, Sunningdale, Wentworth and the Bishops Avenue area. My sister Ann Wilson was the assistant-housekeeper at Browns Hotel, Dover Street, London, this hotels guests included Paul Getty, the then world’s richest man, and people of this calibre were well known to her. Contrasting the two worlds Thornaby with London was a culture shock for me, and I noticed it was not the posh accent that counted, but the physical determination displayed in speech and manner that mattered. Suffice to say in Thornaby you settled differences with fists; in the better parts of London you used words but what words, graceful, cultured and educated. That’s life.


  4. I was thinking the other day about ‘how few neighbours’ I knew, when as a child I lived in Barnard Street, Thornaby, when looking again at the list of lower Barnard Street householders names obtained from the National Archives it appears I hardly knew anyone. So the problem of social isolation between neighbours it appears was fairly common in 1940-1960s Barnard Street, and presumably the surrounding area. A recent survey found six in ten Britons do not get on with one of their neighbours. Many look the other way if they pass those who live nearby, while one in ten will give them a ‘frosty look’. A tenth said they just ‘don’t like the look’ of their neighbours so never stop to talk to them. 28 per cent said they would never socialise with them, whilst a third said it was easier to snub their neighbours than make polite conversation. Recent surveys indicate that one in four people in the UK don’t talk to the people next door and one in seven don’t even know their names!

    I am proud to be a friend with all the members of this Barnard Street family before moving to Leeds, and enjoyed playing with them as children. If any of them, Phillip, Gerald or Amelia Henry, wish to meet up please email me via Stockton Pics. I wish you all well, and hope that after leaving Thornaby you all prospered in your own way. Respects.


  5. Since the end of World War 1, Brits have been eager to pull out the trestle tables and no matter the weather, to organise a traditional street party with food, drink and an old fashioned knees up ‘Mother Brown’ line-dance afterwards, in order to celebrate some national event. The traditional street party was often held at times of food shortages – so dragging out the tables and chairs into the middle of the street and piling on whatever food was available was all that was required …. just a simple, informal gathering together of friends, neighbours, workmates …. After a party occurred it was noticed that residents who used to just politely wave at each other when they passed in the street, later considered themselves close friends because of the street party being held. The earliest known informal street parties occurred at the end of WWI, 1914-1918, officially to celebrate the end of WW1, but unofficially as a treat for British children many of whom had suffered the loss of a parent or relation. Since that date events celebrated by holding a street party have included Victory in Europe Day, 8 May 1945, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II 2 June 1953, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee 1977, the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, and most recently the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

    Nationwide there’s huge respect for Her Majesty the Queen; so with Her Majesty’s forthcoming 90th birthday in 2016, many Teessiders will be planning on holding a street party to celebrate this. From the Queen’s actual birthday on 21 April 2016, to her official birthday in 1 June we can expect the entire royal family to be involved in attending commemoration events. From 10 June to 12 June 2015 there will be a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, then the Queen’s Birthday Parade on Horse Guards Parade, and a giant street party on The Mall, London, to celebrate her long and glorious reign. With her Majesty being part-Scot (her mother Queen Elizabeth 2, was nee Lady Elizabeth Bowes LLyon) so the traditional Scots drink toast to her may well be “And Long may yer lum reek.”, this being similar in spirit and the sentiments expressed to the Welsh song-phrase “Keep the Home Fires Burning”. God Bless Her Majesty, and all who serve her faithfully.


    • Barnard Street, Thornaby, may have been named after Lord Barnard whose ancestor Sir Henry Vane the Elder purchased Raby Castle and the neighbouring Barnard Castle in 1626, from the Crown. From 1833 to 1891 they were the Dukes of Cleveland who retained the title of Lord Barnard.

      In the UK there are a total of 8 Barnard Streets, situated in Barrow, Bolton, Blyth, Darlington, Thornaby, Staindrop, Wem and Warrington. Surprisingly there are no Barnard Streets in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.


  6. Derek,do you have any news on when the ‘Victory’s Children’ exhibition is due to take place at Thornaby Town hall after being postponed in September?
    I saw the one at Preston Park museum and look forward to seeing this one with extra exhibits, as well as seeing inside the Town Hall for the first time.
    Also, I have at some time in the past,seen some wonderful views of Thornaby painted by your father, Denis and would love to see them again if possible. Do you have any plans for exhibiting them anywhere the future?


    • Apologies I was hoping the show would be installed in September but sadly it is out of my hands. I am the organiser at TTH will aim for early next year there’ll be announcements in the press so watch out.
      Thanks also for your interest in Dads paintings if there is enough interest I might try and get something together in Thornaby in 2016. The Preston Hall Exhibition of 6 years ago was very popular so maybe we restage this. I’ll try to get a notice in Thornaby Pride and the Gazette. Thanks Derek


  7. In 1820, the land in George Street, Thornaby and the original Five Lamps area was called Mandale. Access to Mandale from Stockton was by taking the Bishops Ferry across the river, after leaving the ferry the road you were on was known to locals as the road to Guisborough. As mentioned elsewhere a stone river bridge was built across the Tees, and the area situated alongside the southern banks of the River Tees known as Old Stockton, came into being. Old Stockton stretched from lower Trafalgar Street to Chapel Street; it included Thornaby Place and ended at Pottery Bank. Over the centuries there have been a number of different spellings of the name Thornaby, it first appears in 1665, and it is tempting to think that Thornaby was named after Robert de Thormodbi, a Richard the Lionheart crusader said to be connected with the erection of the original five church sanctuary lamp beacons in a mediaeval Thornaby church, an association re-kindled 600 years later with the erection of a public lighting display column k/as the Five Lamps in George Street, Thornaby. This area including Barnard Street was for a 100 years considered to be central Thornaby, until it was superseded by the new town centre built some distance away.


  8. Which builders built Barnard Street, Thornaby? It appears that several building firms built Barnard Street, Thornaby. It was built around 1870, and when this photo of the V.E DAY celebrations was taken, Barnard Street, was 65 years old. The buiders were:

    * Description of Work Address House No/Name Owner/Builder Date of Approval
    6 Houses Barnard St 2-12 C Atkinson 1871
    4 Houses,stable &warehouse Barnard St 1-7 William Smith 1872
    3 Houses Barnard St 14-18 Mr McLeod 1872
    5 Houses Barnard St 17-25 W Smith 1873
    11 Houses Barnard St 20-40 R Moorsom 1874
    4 Houses Barnard St 19-25 W Smith 1875
    House Barnard St 1a W Smith 1876

    This information was received by me from the Teesside Government Archives, Middlesbrough, in some respects it may be unreliable because they appear to have listed the owners/ builders together. A list like this only comes to life when you know the local history of the area, who was building houses, which firms and employers were seeking staff, who initially purchased these homes, and what became of the original inhabitants, tradespeople, labourers and navvies who occupied these houses, and where had they come from. This large group of street terrace houses extended along George Street for 750 yards to Thornaby Road in one direction, and 300 yards along Westbury Street to Gilmour Street the other way, an area of approx 250 000 sq yards, 45 acres which held approx 500 dwelling houses. My thanks to Teesside Govt Archives, Middlebrough for this builders information @02-12-2015)


  9. As a child I was extremely shy and had a slight lisp which was listed on my school reports ‘as a slight speech impediment’, both my brother Tom and I, were the scruffiest and dirtiest children in Barnard Street, Thornaby, and the surrounding area. My father was unemployed and on the dole, together they ran a second-hand clothes stall on Stockton Market for some 10 years. At one time my mother used to sell used children’s clothes door-to-door in the Trafalgar Street area of Thornaby, I carried the heavy bags of used clothing for her and in this way got to know just about every child who lived ‘Over-the-Steps’, which was a euphemism for those who lived the other side of Thornaby railway station.

    I was totally unaware of my own poor home circumstances and childhood poverty, I thought it was normal; we ate a lot of porridge, my mother made sheep’s head stews and Scots broth, and health wise we were all in good health. I regret never ever having attended a children’s party ever. Obviously I would have liked one of my own but my mother would have said, and did say: “Yer canna have a stupid birthday party, who does yer think we are – daft Toffee nosed snobs”.

    I passed the school exam to attend the Robert Atkinson school, and my very first day there was spoilt by the French teacher called Mr Coleman, being our first day we had to tell him for the school register entries our full names and address, and I pronounced Barnard Street, as it was pronounced locally has Bar-Nadd street, this threw him into a temper, and he lectured me loudly in front of the new class for not being able to say properly the word Barnard (to make it sound like Bern-Naard St), that was me finished with Coleman, with French lessons and with the Robert Atkinson school, and I became a truant and often absent pupil. During this period 1945-1955 a social revolution of sorts occurred, this was the commencement and emergence of Britain’s middle class, and I am proud to see that people I knew then bettered themselves by leaving behind very quickly their blue collar backgrounds. One person I know would describe Thornaby to Londoners, as a pretty little village built on the banks of the River Tees,a famous fishing river full of leaping salmon and trout, which at Leven Bridge contained a white water waterfall. Today, the world moves on ?


    • In my last post I mentioned the poverty. To understand our situation better I should have added that houses in Barnard Street, Thornaby, did not have bathrooms, wash sinks, hot water boilers and the occupants washed in cold tap water. If hot water was needed they had to boil water in a kettle or pan on the gas ring. Many Thornaby children, not all, had the burden of errant parents not providing clean towels, soap, shampoo, mirrors, combs, shoe polish, and so obviously to to others in our case; trendy clothes and shoes. Suffice to say we were not the only children in Thornaby who went to school wearing “wellies”. In those days very few people had washing machines, fridges, electricity, electric lights and central heating. A burning smoky coal fire situated in the living room was the only source of heat and, to make matters worse, many parents spending habits included wasteful gambling and drink, unknown to them their enemies was the local bookmaker, publican and pawn shop lender. (The writer has never drank a pint of beer, or smoked a cigarette, or visited a betting shop)

      During Queen Victoria’s reign, Britain’s population doubled. The result was the sizable expansion of terrace street homes being built for rent and destined solely for the working class. Cheap on land and materials they usually had a two up and two down construction, some with a rear extension containing a small third bedroom, with W.C, kitchen and coal shed in the back yard. At the time of their construction, terraced homes like Barnard Street were loathed by the elite. George Orwell described these streets ‘as a prison with cells in a row’. Suffice to say that Victorian Thornaby, and Victorian England, is today synonymous with slums, soot, blue cobble paving, gas lamps, slate roofs, and the adjacent satanic mills, steelworks, shipyards and coal mines. In the 1960s it was intended that they were to be bulldozed to make way for more modern properties. This program ground to a halt when prominent builders made it clear they were reluctant to build new homes at their risk and expense on these Brownfield sites tainted in buyer’s minds by their previous poor reputation. This explains in part why the Thornaby Mandale Triangle and Bonlea area are today occupied by warehouse units and not modern replacement homes. If you think Thornaby was bad wait until you see Newcastle West End, Salford Manchester, Rochdale, Wigan, or Glasgow, in my view having a wistful or sentimental yearning for Barnard Street, Thornaby, is fine, but it needs to be tempered with the admonition that the children of the 1930 – 1955 inhabitants could not get away from it fast enough. The Beatle song “I’ve got a ticket to ride” describes them accurately.


  10. The 1939 household register was conducted to ascertain who was living in Britain on the outbreak of the world war 2, 1939-1945, to establish a person or familys identity for the issue of rationing cards, coupons and identity passes (www. quote>) The census taken for the year war broke out in Europe was essential for identity cards, evacuations and rationing. It is now available online. The register spans 1.2 million pages. The register, taken in late September 1939, just after after the outbreak of the second world war, is the only surviving record of the population of England and Wales between 1921 and 1951. Below is the occupant/s register entry’s for Barnard Street, Thornaby. House numbers 1-25. 2 to 18.

    1a. Atkinson, 1. Dearsley, 3.Legg, 5. Mealey & Haycock, 7. Buxton, 9. Frost, 11. Henry Fulton, 13. Appleby, 15. Warton, 17. Morrison, 19. Williams, 21. Powell, 23. Dalton, 25. Crone. / 2. Scott, 4. Fletcher, 6. Robson, 8.Leeson, 10. Best, 12. John Fulton, 14. Burrnip, 16. Trotter, 18. Green (@ Public information register 2015).


  11. My Mother-in-law was amazed to see this photo on TV. The lady at the back is her mother Doris Williams (nee Gwilliam). Doris’s hair looks stylish for the time as she (as many others did) made a headband out of the top of a stocking and folded her hair over the headband and tucked the ends under the band to give that wave effect. Mother-in-law (Ann Williams) was also at the party, but not in the photo. Thank you for publishing photo. It gave Mother-in-law a lot of pleasure and us a chance to show our own grown up children a photo of their Great Grandmother.


    • We tried to find photographs of the Williams family of Barnard Street for the exhibition but without success. However the next venue is Thornaby Town hall and I am assembling new panels of photographs brought in by exhibition visitors. If your Mother-in-Law had any photographs we could represent the family in the new panel. Please get in touch if you can . Derek Smith


  12. I was born and brought up in Lyndhurst Street…went to St. Patricks School… like Bob Wilson I recall all those names from the Five Lamps area, including Mr. (Fred) Page… with whom we were ‘rationed’, Teddy Fell the Fishmonger, Thomas Rea, the Undertaker…. and certainly all of those people mention from Barnard Street. I now live in Spain and only last week had a visit from the two youngest sisters of the Todd family who ran the Windmill Inn for several years. There were a lot of good people in that area.


  13. I grew up in Barnard Street, Thornaby, and lived there from 1941-1960, 19 years, before moving to Leeds, I recall a great deal of Thornaby’s history during this period, and can vividly remember the local people, meaning the families and children who lived or traded around the Five Lamps area of Thornaby. Well known 1950s Thornaby characters in no particular order would be Mr Bloom the pawnbroker, ‘Old Talley’ the backstreet bookmaker, Mr Scott the papershop, Mr Toulson the butcher, and Misses Sherburn and Goodhall, the head mistress and assistant head mistress at the National School, not forgetting Dr McGrath and Mrs Round the chemist. Amongst the boys there was a number of rough and ready characters with Sammy and Bobby Wright, Alfie Frost, Tommy Donnachy and ‘Daft Alan’ always somewhere about, but none more so than the local scrap collector ‘Old Mr Hayes’ (Yabbo) from Spring Street and ‘Billy’ who collected waste food for pigs with a wooden cart that had seen better days.
    I left Thornaby in 1961, following an argument with my mother over two sausages, she had told me my breakfast was in the frying pan, there was two sausages in it so I ate both, only one was for me, the other was for my brother Tom, unbelievable as it must seem today she called the Police to me, and had me thrown out of the house over a sausage, this is what people mean when they say life was tough in those days. I ended up in Leeds with just 25/- (£1.25 pence in my pocket) suffice to say it was the best thing that has ever happened to me, today I have a wonderful wife and home, and all five of my children went to Universities, one was a Barrister who qualified at Lincolns Inn, London, one a PhD in physics, another a hospital personnel officer, a daughter who is a school teacher, and a son who resides in Switzerland. I do not hide the fact that I had an extremely poor upbringing in Barnard Street, which with great effort can be defeated, Bob


      • Thornaby Memories: When I was 14 I joined a boxing club called Joe Walton’s which was the best on Teesside, the club had few active members, maybe 15, and the trainer rarely attended, he’d show up one or two night a week. I’d been going there for over a year four nights a week just to punch the speed-ball hour after hour. One night the trainer announced an informal parents evening and boxing show with 6 amateur bouts on the card. For no other reason than because I was the only boy the same size as the club champion I was picked to fight him. This person held three boxing titles, North East Junior Champion of the Year etc, I liked watching him box and spar because he’d modelled himself on Rocky Marciano, Brockton, Massachusetts, world heavyweight champion 1952-1956, and was into ducking and diving with lots of bobbing and weaving clever stuff to watch. Except I’d noticed when he bent low, really low his whole head was wide open for a good clout.

        After we climbed into the ropes for the fight; and were stood in the middle of the ring being introduced I heard his mother who was sat in the audience shout out “Kill him Billy, gor’n Kill him”, she obviously thought a lot of her Billy. In round one I soon got his measure and every time he bent low I’d hit him ‘bang’ bang’. He was hurt and surprised, bent low he was about 4, 6″ tall, with his face unprotected, halfway during round 2 the referee stopped the fight, I surmised from this that I must have done something seriously wrong, maybe broken a boxing rule and had been disqualified. I was so embarrassed about it. So I asked the referee “why had he stopped the fight and what had I done wrong”, the referee informed me that I’d won the fight, and held my hand up, but it still never registered, I was unaware that a referee can stop a fight to prevent injury or further injury to a boxer. Leaving the ring I walked past this boy’s mother and you’ve never seen a more furious woman. Did I learn anything, yes; boxing is a mugs game for fools. Proof of this is two once great boxing names: Bennie Lynch 1935, Glasgow, and Mike Tyson 1996, USA.


  14. Congratulations on putting together such a fantastic exhibition. Very proud that our family (The Wilson’s @ 1A) were part of this story.


  15. The girl on the right, Rita, is my Aunty. My mam, Mary, was her sister. I know all those names in the photo through the telling of family stories over the years. Would love a copy of this if possible?


    • Magic memories, I lived in Henrietta Street and remember the day, also can remember most of these people although most are a year or two older than me David Green I remember well from Saint Patricks. How lovely to see you all on the film.


  16. Well done Derek and thank you for all your hard work and enthusiasm. You have brought back a lot of fond memories for me and a lot of other people. Fred Costello son of Madge and brother of Ray.


    • I’ll echo that Fred – Well done Derek and everyone else, you included, who helped to make this a riveting experience for me when I visited today.
      I lived with my parents and brother Richard at no.6 from 1949 until 1956 and found the exhibition fascinating, remembering pretty well everyone; it was heartwarming to see some of them on film and to find out what had become of them in the intervening years.
      I must make sure that my brother gets along to see it. Thanks to all who ‘made my day’. I’ll be going back for another nostalgia fix.


      • My Nana lived in Barnard Street her name was Lillian Strudy she married George Frederick Bell. Her father was John Christopher Strudy and her mother was Clara.


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