West Row, Stockton c2017

Again rather like North Street these are a 1985 to 2017 comparison and although Russell the printers is now the UVS barbers shop there has been little change except for the windows and the lack of a chimney pot! The adjacent block on the corner of Ship Inn Yard is interesting with seemingly very little or no restoration of the first building and the former (?) SBC office still having it’s lifting or davit arm in place which doubt was once used to haul stock up to the first floor?
The buildings with Dobson the glass merchant to one end looks to be of the same period although in a poorer condition but has the addition of a third floor and a Georgian box window. Interestingly this area is now home to several wine bars and micro-breweries and is being dubbed as Stocktons Cultural Quarter so perhaps these buildings may still have the chance of a future after all?

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

Coronation Day, Billingham c1953

This is a photograph of the Coronation celebrations on the 2nd June 1953, it was taken by Jack Ollett from the bedroom of his house in Cotswold Crescent Billingham.

As can be seen it was a small cul-de-sac off the main road, there were
12 houses in all, the residents were Hough, Armstrong, Kellett, Ollett, Robinson, Pike, Spensley, Smith, Clark, Coleman, Lonsdale, Jones. The lady in the large overcoat looking straight towards the camera is my mother Margo, she was pregnant with one of my sisters when this photo was taken, my sister was born just over a month later.

The grassed oval was our football/cricket pitch, tennis court, camping area, where we built our snowmen and always played our games, this accounts for the bald patches in the grass. The telephone box was the email of its day, nobody had a home phone in those days so people would ring the phone box and ask whoever answered to take a message to one of the people living in the area, many is the time I have run along the street with a message for somebody, Cotswold Crescent is a very long street, about 300 houses, so it could be quite a trek to deliver some of the messages.

As children we had everything we needed where we lived, behind the cul-de-sac was a railway line with pigeon lofts running alongside it, three ponds, swings, a slide and a see-saw, at the top end of the street was woodland that stretched as far as Cowpen village in one direction and to Wolviston in another, we knew this as ‘The Foxy’, at the bottom end of the street was access to Billingham Station, Billingham Beck and a bridleway to Norton and on to Thorpe Thewles, we roamed far and wide, staying out until hunger or darkness drove us home.

Photograph and details Bruce Coleman.

North Street, Stockton c2017

When I saw the recent post of North Street c1980’s I recognised the buildings straight away as I often use the Wellington Street car park which strangely enough has North Street to it’s north! So, some thirty years later on the 1 July 2017 I went along and found that one of the featured buildings is now a gents hair stylist, barbers as was, whilst the rest of the row is easily recognisable although some of the window positions have altered and their frames are now made from upvc rather than wood. It’s nice to see that the original street nameplate is still in position and made from stone unlike the later enamel or cast metal ones or even the pressed steel or plastic ones of today . Interesting too is the width of the houses, I’m assuming that North Street and Bishopton Lane were built back-to back with the only access through a front door?

Photograph and details courtesy of David Thompson.

Road works in Norton

Some recent road resurfacing work in the Hallifield and Edgar Street area of Norton has exposed the original cobble or more precisely brick road surface which was probably first tarmaced over in the 1960’s both as a cost saving measure and as an easy option to save the hard work of digging the road up.

These blue bricks are scoria bricks and were made from blast furnace slag which was a by-product, actually a waste product of the iron and steel foundrys which once employed many men in the Stockton area. The bricks were so successful that they were actually exported around the world and in 1912 alone over 62,000 tons of scoria bricks were shipped from the River Tees to countries including Canada and the West Indies to Belgium and Holland in Europe and even as far as South Africa were roads made from Teesside scoria brick can still be seen today and not just covered by tarmac. Truly another great Teesside export story!

The only road I know of within the Stockton Borough were the scoria bricks remain uncovered is Mill Street off Norton High Street? I always find the architecture of this street fascinating and the name alone gives a nod to what once stood at the top of it’s bank and perhaps the bricks have been left with it’s history in mind? Well, I like to think so anyway.

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

Victory’s Children Documentary at Thornaby Central Library

Producer Derek Smith will be presenting a documentary called “Victory’s Children” at Thornaby Central Library on Thursday 1 June at 7.30pm. Free event – everyone welcome.

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

For further information call Thornaby Central Library 01642 528117.