Angel Room, Portrack Grange, Stockton c1950s

The ‘Angel Room’ which was part of the Portrack Grange cottages is believed to have been a Georgian tavern used by sea captains. The cottages stood on the bend of the River Tees before cuts were made to straighten the river. The plaster-work seen in the photographs is dated early to mid-18th century. The buildings were possibly some of the first brick buildings in Stockton (c1660s) and were apparently demolished c1959.

The Stockton Flyer

The Stockton Flyer a moving mechanical sculpture emerges from a plinth with gushing steam, moving wheels, bells and whistles! The sculpture first emerged from the plinth to mark the Queen’s official 90th birthday on Sunday 12 June but visitors to Stockton High Street can watch the Stockton Flyer appear at 1pm each day.

If you can’t head down to the High Street take a little look of the Stockton Flyer in action.

Thornaby Submariners final resting place discovered

t14947 t14948The final resting place of a son of Thornaby has finally been discovered 73 years after he disappeared.

Submariner Wilf Foundling Stoker 1st Class was reported missing along with 70 other crew members in January 1943 on board HMS P311 in the Mediterranean Sea. Last month the sub was finally discovered off the coast of Sardinia.

I think Wilf came from the Derby Terrace area of Thornaby, he was the son of Arthur and Jane Foundling. He is remembered on the Thornaby Cenotaph & The Chatham Naval War Memorial. Wilf was 21 when he went missing. The P311 was to have been named HMS Tutankhamen but was lost before being named. She left Malta in December 1942 carrying 2 chariots for a dangerous mission against Italian cruisers. However she was believed mined and lost in January 1943. She has been identified off Sardinia still with her external cargo chariots attached.

Wilfs niece who he taught to play “alleys” still lives in Stockton. His nephew Dave Foundling went to Richard Hind with me.

Photographs and details courtesy of Norman Hill.

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.

Alex Holmes Print c1880

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This printed image which I believe, from the velvet frame parts dates from about 1880. The girl is carrying a basket that has Alex Holmes Stockton-on-Tees printed on the side. I was wondering if this was a generic type print, or specific to the company. There are a couple of buildings in the background.
The odd thing is, I found this in Saint John, NB, Canada about 30 years ago. My family on my Mum’s side, including her, all come from around Stockton. They were Dickens (grandmother’s side) and Humplebys (grandfathers side). The print now lives on Canada’s west coast. Any information would be appreciated.

Image and details courtesy of Noel Fowles.

Municipal Buildings, Official Opening Ceremony Bowls

t14638This is one of a number of bowls made from the clay excavated from the basement and foundations of the Municipal Buildings in Church Road, Stockton-on-Tees. The bowls were presented to guests at the Official opening ceremony. The throwing, if that is the correct word, of the bowls was organised by the head of the Art Department at Constantine Technical College, Middlesbrough. I received one having been involved in the design of the buildings when working in the Borough Architects Department. At that time we were housed in the single storey prefab shared with the Corporation Housing Department on Thistle Green. The bowls were of special interest to me as the clay used was possibly under, or very close to, the site of my great grandmother’s shop on Thistle Green circa 1900. She was Lucy Wilkinson born in 1847. The bowls probably have very little value but the provenance of mine is priceless.

Photograph and details courtesy of James Bridge.

Memories of Seaton Carew c1965

We would like to thank Bruce Coleman who very kindly sent us the following in response to some of the comments on an earlier post ‘Memories of days out at Seaton Carew

t14498When I was a child in the early 1950s my Father was a member of the Haverton Hill Working mens Club, every year we had a trip from Billingham to Seaton Carew organised by the club, there were about 5 or six double decker buses full of parents and children each year, we received a packet of sandwiches and two half crowns in a brown envelope, the envelopes had holes in the front and were suspiciously like the Furness Shipyard pay packets, but that was possibly coincidental!, of course the sun always shone and my father and his cronies always disappeared into the Seaton Hotel at the first opportunity, my mother would sit on the beach all day only occasionally popping to the wooden hut to get a jug of boiling water to make a cup of tea, on one occasion a newspaper had a competition, they roped off a section of the beach and buried 5 “Gold” coins in the area, all of the kids were invited to dig for the coins, there were prizes for the finders but as is usual I didn’t win one and I never did find out what the prizes were, this is a bit like Willy Wonka, if anybody remembers this occasion and knows either who won or what they won I would be interested, I should imagine there are still a number of people that went on these trips who visit this site and can enlighten me.

Billingham Branch Overbridge, 2014

The historic Billingham Branch rail bridge was a major advance, being the first in Britain to be built using welded steel construction. It was built in 1932 to carry the approach road to the Newport Lift Bridge, over the Billingham Branch Railway, which was itself quite new, coming into service in 1920.

The pictures show that both the internal and external design have been beautifully laid out, with the vertical members being cut to form a curved shape. It could easily be taken to a bridge that had been designed in the late 1970s.

The man in one of the pictures is Mr Charles Morris a distinguished civil engineer from Teesside. Some years ago he was responsible for strengthening the haunches of the Billingham Branch Bridge as they were tending to move inwards. According to Mr Morris, soil conditions in Teesside are not good for heavy civil engineering projects, and this has made bridge construction quite difficult.

Photographs and details courtesy of Fred Starr