Portrack and Portrack/Tilery Primary School c1949

Two views of “Old Portrack” taken from the NCAP Scottish Library collection. They date from May 1949. Portrack stayed much the same until the mid-fifties when demolition began.
All that remains is part of St Annes Terrace and the more modern buildings of what, in my time, was called Portrack Primary. They run at about 30 degrees from the left hand corner of the lower picture. The taller buildings, which are at right angles to these, were demolished in the eighties, but there is a colour picture on Picture Stockton. These housed the infants, aged 5 to 7. The modern buildings covered the ages 8 to 11, when we would do our 11 plus.
The buildings surrounding the smaller playground belonged to the nursery classes and the school dinner canteen. They were temporary wartime structures, I believe and have now gone. The school dinners were appalling, but we nursery children were forced to eat it.

Details courtesy of Fred Starr.

Voluntary Entertainment Service Badge

This badge belonged to my mother Freda Thornton. During World War II she was one of a troupe of entertainers who went around the local military sites entertaining those troops serving on the Home Front. She recalled the troupe visiting Kiaora, Wynyard, and various ack-ack batteries. The members of this and similar troupes were presented with these badges. The Voluntary Entertainment Service was a branch of the more widely known E.N.S.A. This badge was given in the North of England as it was issued by the “Northern Command”.
It measures 25 mm in diameter, and is made of white enamel on chromium plating.

Photograph and details courtesy of Cliff Thornton.

River Tees Railway Bridge remains, 19 October 2017

Whilst out on a walk organised by River Tees Rediscovered; we passed under the three River Tees bridges which span the river within yards of each other; the A66 Surtees Bridge, the 1906 Tees Rail Bridge and the 2008 Tees Rail Bridge. On the west, Stockton, bank of the river and underneath the 1906 rail bridge you can still clearly see the remains of the original 1830 suspension bridge with several of the foundation stones lying just below the waters surface and on one of them you can make out four holes which were probably used to anchor either the original girder structure or perhaps wooden sleepers?
These railway bridges were used to extend the S&DR to the then named Port Darlington, The Infant Hercules – Middlesbrough. On leaving the riverbank the footpath continues along Boathouse Lane passing close to the original coal staithes behind Bridge House and the original ticket office  across Bridge Road and the site of St Johns crossing and then behind the modern bingo hall and back onto the river front and what was once the very busy and industrious Stockton Quayside. There is a Stockton Railway Heritage Trail information board behind what is now the only original wharf, Warehouse At River Front, and with the replica HM Bark Endeavour set to sail away in the near future Stockton seems set to lose another connection to it’s nautical past.

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

An Aerial View of Haverton Hill

This aerial shot of Haverton Hill shows the Furness Estate quite clearly, particularly interesting is the view of ‘The Hostel’ near to the Circle on Belasis Avenue, I believe this was built to house shipyard workers just after the First World War, I remember it being used to house Hungarian refugees after the uprising in the 1950s and it later housed light industrial units including a soft drinks company called ‘Jonco’.

It is difficult to date the photograph but there are very few cars on the roads, the bus is probably one of Stockton Corporations Leyland PD2 models which were in production from the 1930s, I used to travel by bus fairly frequently through Haverton Hill in the 1950s and I don’t ever remember the route going down Marlborough Road, I do have a photo of a bus shelter on Marlborough Road in the 1950s so maybe my memory is not up to scratch.

Marlborough Road continues away to the left towards the Furness Sports Field, at the bottom right of the photo where Marlborough Road and Collingwood Road meet you can see the roof of the Methodist Chapel, next door to the left is a flat roofed building, this was always known as ‘The Welfare’, it was where we collected our concentrated orange juice, malt, National Dried Milk and the dreaded Cod Liver Oil.

Belasis Avenue continues off to the bottom right of the photo and passes the old fire station on its left then Charltons Pond on its right then Billingham South Modern School on its right and Billingham Stores

(Co-op) and the Picture House at Mill Lane end, the bus actually travelled along Greenwood Road and met Belasis Avenue at the bottom of the bridge.

At the top right of the photograph the curve of the railway line heading towards Port Clarence and the Transporter area can be seen, just before the curve a single track line branches off to the left and crosses Hope Street and continues along to the clay pit and Saltholme Farm, as children we spent many happy hours playing around this area.

I remember my father mentioning a Cinema somewhere in the area of Tees Street and The Hostel, if anybody can pinpoint it for me I shall be most grateful.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Locomotives crossing the Tees Railway Bridge c1966

I have been following comments about the ‘Lost Thornaby Riverside‘ and unearthed a couple of photographs looking in the other direction. They are of trains crossing the railway bridge and would have been taken from what is now the middle of the A66. In the photograph of the diesel hauled freight the Victoria Bridge is visible in the background. In the other photograph a large building is visible near the Victoria Bridge; was this a flour mill? Perhaps some of your readers might be able to tell me.

For those with a railway interest the locomotives are a class 25 D5181 and the steam loco is a WD no.90470 both taken on 5th March 1966.

Photographs and details courtesy of Garth McLean.

Remembrance Service for Ernest Taylor

The Remembrance Service for my Grandfather Ernest Taylor was held at St Peter’s Church, Stockton on Thursday 12 October 2017, 100 years to the day he was killed in action. The service was attended by 20 descendants and close friends. We were also pleased to welcome the Mayor and Mayoress at the service.

The wreath was laid on the memorial board by his great great grandchildren Betsy and Dylan and will eventually be transferred to the cenotaph in Stockton.

Photographs and details courtesy of Ken Oliver.

Stockton and Billingham Technical College, Going, Going, Gone c2003

These photographs were taken by my late uncle, Albert Abbott, they show the demolition of the Technical College on Finchale Avenue in Billingham in 2003.

Many thousands of people passed through this establishment learning scientific, engineering and artistic skills and went on to many different occupations, teaching, acting, engineering and much more besides.

As a child I remember it being built and it was a terrific playgound for young boys, heaps of sand and gravel, piles of bricks and holes filled with water,we could get dirty and damp within a few hundred yards of our homes, sheer magic.

In later years I did evening classes there, night school as we called it, at both the Billingham and Oxbridge sites and also went to the theatre a number of times, including the opera ‘Don Pasquale’ with my school music club, my first and last foray into the world of opera.

It had most likely past its usefulness with the rise of University education for all and a lesser requirement for technical skills as industry faded away and administration and service work increased, still, it is always sad to see something you have grown up with disappear forever.

Photographs and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Regent Street Plan from 1946 – 1954

Regent Street plan as remembered, during the period 1946-54. What nowadays appears as a drab ‘service’ cul-de-sac was once a busy, cobble-stoned thoroughfare, housing an interesting variety of businesses. I am not a draughtsman, and I do not pretend that the buildings are shown to any matching scale. Simply an accurate listing, with question marks denoting any doubts.






A. During this period, my recollection is that this store was a DOGGARTS (?) However, whatever name it then bore, it evidently later become a Littlewoods. It had large show windows along the whole length, with a small side entrance about half way along; the main entrance being in the High Street. The ‘bend’ in the street at the end of the two stores certainly existed, but It may not have been as deep as at the opposite side, where vehicles parking at the Marks & Spencers’ delivery doors did not ‘stick out’ beyond the Public House. I remember that such vehicles did not block the street for others.

B & C. The majority of the buildings were terraced, and these two houses were unusual in that their upper stories met over a wide passageway with large double doors at the pavement end. These gave access to the large courtyard area shown for goods vehicles – collecting and delivering to the bakery at the rear.

D. Barrowcliffes or Barracloughs (?) bakery shop (I am not sure of the spelling). This sold produce of the bakery shown at E, which I believe also had wholesale delivery round (?)

F. A fireplace sales showroom. I don’t know whether all on show were made in the workshop at the rear, but I do recall that there only appeared to be one workman in there.

G. This building was number six (see note below) The front one being the house and the rear a large two-storey building consisting of a four-car-size garage, with workroom above. Previously, through the 1920’s and 30’s this had been the workshop for my father’s parents hosiery business, in which a number of female employees hand-worked circular knitting machines. Apart from a wholesale round amongst the surrounding towns/villages, the output retailed through two Stockton market stalls and a shop/office which was housed in the front room of the house – with a bay window onto Regent Street for display.
I was always rather impressed with this frontage as the main entrance was a portico; two large stone steps with round columns around a foot in diameter (which my father painted to closely resemble marble) and an extremely heavy door. Inside was a lobby with a door ahead leading into the living quarters, and one on the right into the front room. Next to this entrance was a single door opening into an enclosed passageway, running through to the back yard. The open stairway up to the studio was actually a set of ship’s stairs – having been salvaged from a liner.
The backstreet was paved with flat cobblestones, and still owned privately by an estate, and my grandfather had paid a ‘small fortune’ for access to it. Interestingly the garage door was a sliding affair, which I’ve never seen duplicated elsewhere. It consisted of upright, hinged wooden frames on steel tracks. These ran along the entrance and curved along inside the right-hand wall, so that when slid open the entire door stood along the wall. It had a small ‘personnel’ door fitted for foot access.
Apart from a normal ‘personnel’ door into the fireplace maker’s workshop, there was no other door in this part of the backstreet which continued on, to run behind businesses in the High Street (and bordering the school) – such as W.H.Smith. Some had access, though – as I frequently used this as a play area in school holidays, etc., I have no clear memory of delivery vehicles and, It being a private road, I remember several occasions when I had to explain to local ‘Bobbies’ that I actually had a right to be there – whereas other children, as trespassers, were warned away.
When my parents and I lived there (1946-54) the workroom became the studio for their ‘Ellena Williams Theatrical Studios’ business and, as video with commentary, on YouTube. The house front room still served as office, with the Bay window now displaying large photo displays of the shows which they presented.

H. I do not recall whether this was still the united Methodist Free Church, or by then (as another person stated) it had become the The Apostolic Church of Wales. I do remember that a married couple were the caretakers and the wife had a sister who was part of the Buckingham Palace staff.

I. I cannot recall whether The Regent Public House had its entrance on the corner, or in Nelson Terrace – but I think the latter (?)

J. The only remaining memory of the street. Unlike the store opposite, the side of this building was solid brick, apart from a set of loading/deliveries doors at far end, next to the Public House.

K. I don’t actually remember this public House being named the Little Regent, but another person has commented on this, so I take their word for it.

L. I remember this having a window full of lighting fittings – Table Lamps, etc.

M. Unlike the other buildings, the Technical School was set back from the pavement. It certainly had iron railings bordering the pavement, (how did they escape the wartime collection?) and I believe they were atop a low brick wall, with a gate midway along the front. (?)

N. The entrance to the School for the Deaf and Dumb was in Nelson Terrace. What is shown in Regent Street is the solid end wall of a brick building. I cannot remember if this was part of the main building, or a separate structure..

NUMBERING. The main entrance for the departmental store was, of course, in the High Street, but there was a small side entrance half way down the side of the building in Regent Street. If either this or the actual bakery (additionally to the shop) had a number, then this would explain why our property was numbered six. Otherwise, it was presumably a hangover from previous times, when the amount of properties in the street was different.

Image and details courtesy of Llewellyn Williams. October 2017.

Aerial View of Blackett’s Brickworks Portrack, 9th May 1949

This picture comes from the NCAP collection, which includes some excellent aerial pictures of Stockton and Billingham. Anyone can use it.

At this point of time, Blacketts had just about worked through the first 30 feet of boulder clay, which was used for brickmaking. The chimneys indicate that there were are least two sets of kilns which were coal fired. The pictures are clear enough to show the bogies (trucks on a miniature railway) that transported the clay to to the works. They were mostly cable hauled, excepted for the last bit were the labours would bush them to where the steam powered digger was working. This can be seen, in shadow, at the top middle of the picture. There is a white flare of steam coming out of the top.

This picture shows that my Drawing of Blacketts Brickworks, 1966 was pretty accurate.

Details courtesy of Fred Starr.

Head Pupils at Billingham North Juniors c1954

Back Row from left to right: David Clish (Head Boy), The infamous Mr Phillips (Headmaster), Billy Davidson (Deputy Head Boy).

Front Row from left to right: Pauline Jackson (Head Girl) and Eileen Alderson (Deputy Head Girl).

David Clish became a doctor, both Pauline Jackson and Eileen Alderson became teachers, the latter appears in the Billingham Roseberry Teachers photograph on this site.

I am sure there are many visitors to this site who will remember Mr Phillips unusual military style of running a school. This photograph of the head pupils at Billingham North School was loaned to me by Pauline Jackson.

Details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.