Stockton High Street c1950s

t15256This photograph of Stockton High Street in the early 1950s shows a number of pre-war cars and of course the ever present Stockton Corporation buses, I don’t know if the ‘O’ bus in the foreground belonged to Stockton Corporation or Middlesbrough Corporation as the lettering system was used by Middlesbrough and Stockton used numbers until the formation of Teesside Municipal Transport…

Even then Stockton had it’s floral displays as shown by the hanging baskets on the lamp post, plus there is a Union Jack flying on the top of one of the buildings to the left, something of a rarity nowadays.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

15 thoughts on “Stockton High Street c1950s

  1. Frank. Thank you for your further information on Stockton’s buses. Buses have fascinated me for years. When I was a student I did a dissertation on bus design and have driven London Transport’s AEC RT1, introduced in September 1939. As a schoolboy I used to stand outside the bus garage in Bridge Road in Stockton watching the buses come and go and then cycle to the Middlesbrough Depot and watch men dressed in sou’westers and wellies washing the buses. I have now lived in the London area for nearly 54 years and often amuse my southern friends with stories of Life in Stockton. On Saturday night I would catch the last No 3 bus from outside Marks and Spencers. It would be full of people who had been drinking in the various pubs and social clubs. We all knew each other and a sing-song was always on the go. My favourite song was “When Your Old Wedding Ring was New.” I will never forget the lovely community spirit I experienced as a teenager in Stockton. I am sure when I visit the town this year emotions will be running high when I walk down the High Street again.

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    • Roy, I once had to drive one of the old Daimler buses, pre-selector gears, Gardner engine which seemed to be in the cab with you when you started it up. I was rather shaken by the movement of the cab it creaked and groaned as you cornered was moving the whole time and I had to take a route with no low bridges, quite an interesting day. The next day I took out a forward control single decker, being used to an engine up front and bonnet it took me by surprise when i started to turn the corner before the bus did, i ran the front wheels over the kerb on that first corner luckily no one was around.

      Having come out of a Convalescent camp in Egypt and on light duties they gave me a GMC Greyhound type American bus and I drove an ENSA party around various camps in the Canal area, nothing wrong with the bus, the ENSA party were the problem, they fought like Kilkenny cats the whole time and some of the Ladies of a certain age thought us young lads guarding them as part of their perks. One week I want to forget.
      My love were the American Macks, Diamond T’s and Scammels, drove thousands of miles in them and it never lost the edge for me.

      Had Relatives in London, top of Brixton Hill where it meets Streatham and the Streatham Locarno saw a lot of me along with the Hammersmith and the Nuffield Club, dancing was my second love, loved London but not enough to leave Stockton, coming home I would reach Thirsk and a feeling of ease would take over, I was home or would be in thirty minutes.
      Prepare to be surprised at Stockton Centre now, if you have not been here for a while you will see a refurbished High Street with new open vista’s, some of us love it some do not and hanker after the old days. Remembering those old days the modern is a vast improvement, love it.
      Frank.

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  2. Frank, Thank you for a lovely contribution from some who goes back further than me. Much appreciated. It is the first time I have read of Rossi’s being mentioned, a lovely ice cream parlour near the Empire and in competition with Pacitto’s in Yarm Lane. I am hoping to visit Stockton again this year. A pity I can’t stay at the Vane Arms Hotel. I am told the town is lacking a decent hotel in the High Street.

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    • Roy, my Mother always said Rossi’s was better ice cream then Pacitto’s, so we would go in on market days for a nice fruit ice cream. That was just before the war, you were served as if you were gentry they were nice people. Then came the war and when Italy came in a crowd wrecked Rossi’s, the men were interned as were many Italian’s, any business with German Names were also attacked it was a disgrace although I did understand the anger.
      There are plenty of good Hotels around Stockton at all prices though nothing in the town centre as yet, it is on the drawing board as a new Hilton where the Dairy once stood on Church Road.
      I only write about the things I knew or experienced and having lived through a time of vast changes did live a lot of History after all we would dash outside when we heard a Plane before the war, twin wings, single engined and we thought them wonderful, then came the war, the planes kept some of us awake, not me I could sleep on a bed of nails, so not so wonderful. Since then I have flown to many places something I would not have expected as a lad.
      Stockton had many changes some good others not, the latest make over I think very good as do my children and grandchildren, there is plenty of life in the old town yet.
      Frank.

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  3. Ian, it depends on your age, I am of prewar vintage, the green livery came after the war. From being very young I would get on the “0” bus outside Billy Toulson’s Butchers shop next to the green and go all the way to North Ormesby Market Place watching the driver preselect his gears then change with the foot change lever, it was not a clutch.
    My Father had his own business as a Haulage Contractor so from an early age I knew about gear boxes with stick change and the Double clutching needed to change a gear. Those Pre select boxes had me puzzled as to how they worked. Mother bought me a full set of Arthur Mee’s Encyclopaedias just before the war and I read them avidly finding out how Wilson gear boxes and Fluid Couplings worked.
    Years Later in REME, infantry drivers would bring their Saladin’s or Saracen Armoured Vehicles in saying the clutch was slipping again Staff, Right leave it on the park come back tonight and pick it up? Later I would call a fitter, give that vehicle 25, he would climb in belt the change lever down 25 times, that tightened the self adjusting nuts on each belt and it would be back to normal. Those drivers used to tell everyone we REME could change a clutch in a day.
    Stockton Buses were Coach Painted well into the 1960’s by hand, an arduous job of laying paint on with a brush then rubbing it down for coat after coat until the panels gleamed.
    I saw many variations of gearbox tried on Stockton Buses, Epicyclic with Fluid flywheel or Centrifugal Clutch, Stick with normal clutch pedal and Automatic then back to semi automatic.
    One of my CO’s had an Armstrong Siddley Car with Preselector and I would drive his wife about in it, she always asked how I managed to drive it smoothly, it seemed the CO had visions of being a racing driver, not a good idea in a lovely car like that.
    Bus drivers in my day were on a par with Policemen and Tradesmen, it was a a good and for the times a well paid job with perks and pensions, uniforms provided and Holidays not always the case with a lot of jobs. You could set your watch by most schedule runs and there would be inspectors checking the drivers up and down all the routes. We were one of the few families with a car in Norton it was bus or walk for most people, the Clippy’s were in a class of their own as stand up Comedians, many a dull Monday morning was livened by their banter.
    Good memories of a wonderful service, what happened I often ask.
    Frank.

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  4. the O bus ran from Norton Green to Middlesbrough centre and was a Boro corporation run bus, we sometimes got it on match days to the Blind School and walk from there to Ayresome Park

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    • It actually went through to North Ormesby. Special buses did go to the Boro matches from Church Road. Malcolm it was my journey to the match from Norton and getting off at the Blind School. On leaving I always walked down Linthorpe Road to the Town Hall on returning home.

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  5. This is a lovely one.

    Let us start with the O bus. I do not recall any Stockton Corporation buses having half-drop front windows on the upper deck so I suspect this one is a Middlesbrough Corporation vehicle. However, the bus has stopped outside Blacketts I think. I thought it stopped further back nearer Lloyds Bank. The Union flag is on the building of Coates & Sidgewicks which was next to the Midland Bank, the taller dark building closer to the camera, and on the corner of Prince Regent Street. We lived in the flat on the top floor of the bank.
    When I came to Stockton from Scotland in 1947, the whole of the High Street was cobbled but, in this photo, the smooth tar had been laid for north and south bound traffic. On the far left is Collingwoods the jeweller where I bought an engagement ring for my fiancee.

    Thank you Bruce.

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    • Roy, I used the “0” bus pre and post war, Norton Green to North Ormesby Market place Moses Street and Grandma’s. Norton Green to Richard Hind on the school bus and Norton Green to the Town to reach my work place in Prince Regent Street. Stockton Corporation at that time had Red Livery and Middlesbrough Blue livery, most if not all had the half windows at the front.
      I would get on the bus of a morning with Pa, Mr Forrester one of the older men brought out of retirement during the war, we went upstairs to the front and Pa would pull out an old pipe stoke it up and proceed to gas all and sundry behind us, the Conductor coming to take the fares would open both of those windows thus blowing the smoke to the back, a relief to me a none smoker all my life.
      He would douse the pipe as we got off the bus and I would not see it in his mouth again until the journey home, the twinkle in his eye told me he was enjoying the discomfort of those who could not complain, smokers upstairs non-smokers down but often the bottom deck was full.
      The stops in town would be from Norton, Bishipton Lane, Blackets and Rossi’s near enough going South, coming back, the Regal, Town Hall, Bishopton Lane.
      From late 1950’s each time I came home the stops had changed the Bus colours changed along with the buses as more modern ones came into use.
      Pre war cars were the norm well into the sixties, my first car was a 1938 Vauxhall which did Stirling service for myself and family and running long after I moved on to newer models.
      Good pictures indeed though for me they are real having lived those times, to others interesting history, were did those years go I ask as I get nearer to Ninety.
      Frank.

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    • Well done Roy with you correction of the Union Flag not The Union Jack as many describe the British Flag. Another error which some times crops in at sporting events when England are playing is the flying of the Union Flag, not the flag of St George as the English Flag. Minor errors most annoying at the time. I remember as a youth when playing for South Bank Juniors, I rode the number “O” bus from High Street Stockton to North Ormesby, then a Tram type Bus to South Bank, if my memory is still serves me… I used to get sixpence expenses for the Bus travel, a far cry from the fares of today.

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