Working Offshore on the Brent Delta

In 1977 I had a year offshore working as a materials controller on the Brent Delta oil rig. The company I worked for was called Vauldale Engineers based at Portrack in Stockton. They had the contract to supply the Electrical installations for the oil rig. Many of the chaps I worked with came from the Stockton area.

Turn the clock forward 40 years and the now redundant Brent Delta was towed to Hartlepool to be scrapped at the Able Wharf facility. All 24000 tons of it. They were saying there would be a 97% recycling rate for this tonnage. These two pictures show the rig in position in the North Sea. Moored next to it was the accommodation barge the Nortrym. Normally attached to the Brent Delta by the clearly seen bridge the Nortrym only moved away during stormy weather. I recall spending a night or two sleeping on the floor of the Brent Delta. You had to use your boots as a pillow or they could ”walk” during the night.

Photographs and details courtesy of Martin Birtle.

Class Photograph, Billingham South School c1962

A class photograph taken at Billingham South School c1962, the teacher is Mrs/Miss Morgan.
As I remember.. front row 2nd left to middle is Lilian Kennedy, 5th left is Anne Walker and to the right of the teacher is Dorcas Charlton.
Centre row… 10th left is Glen Walker (I believe he emigrated to Canada) and back row…
8th from the left is Keith Jacks (his parents ran the Three Horseshoes at Cowpen Bewley) and 9th is Alan Melville, I wish I could remember the rest but 56 years is a long time.

Photograph and details courtesy of Kenneth Robinson.

William Newton Staff c1972/73

t14904Back Row (l-r): Vicar, Peter Curland (science), Mr. Llewellyn (science).

Middle Row (l-r): Pat Upton (Maths), Joyce Hazelton (Home Economics), Margery Thompson (English & Drama), ?? (Commerce), Margaret Hodgson (Art & Needlework), Anne Pickard (French), Mr Hall.

Front Row (l-r): Marian Heald (Art), Dorothy Coates (PE), Miss Nicolson (Head), Liz Bennett (Geography), Mrs Hall.

Photograph and details courtesy of Maureen Lonsdale nee Boardman.

Bridge Road Demolition, Sunday 9 February 2020

I drove along the Riverside Road on Friday evening and was quite surprised to see a car stuck on a mud-bank after going through the temporary fencing surrounding the proposed Lidl supermarket. What I didn’t notice until I was driving back along the riverside in the opposite direction was that the demolition work had started on the old ADS Martins car showroom and worse, the old doctors surgery had gone completely!

I went down on Sunday while Storm Ciara was at a low ebb and took a few photos, the blown down fencing being a distinct advantage allowing for easy photography although blocking the footpaths. Clearly the ’24 Hour CCTV In Operation’ operator does not work on weekends!

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson

House of Wax, ABC Globe Theatre c1953

The House Of Wax was an early 3D film, it was made in 1953, the Globe has 4 showings in one day and it appears that it was being shown for quite some time as the “Final Week” notice indicates.

I remember my parents going to see a 3D film in the early 1950s, it was probably at Billingham Picture House and much later than the initial release, my Father was unimpressed and my Mother thought it was “All Right”, damned by faint praise, as the saying goes. The main thing I remember was wearing the red/green spectacles the following day at school and having them confiscated.

3D cinema was never a success, it was unrealistic and unconvincing and very expensive to make, I have seen a number of I-Max films over the years and they are quite good but I don’t think they improve the cinema going experience, they can be quite novel for a short time but they do pall.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

A locomotion in Spring Street

Recently there has been something of a commotion over Locomotion No1 and the plans by the National Railway Museum to move it from the Head Of Steam Museum in Darlington to their own collection at Shildon, named no less – Locomotion! With the bi-centenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway less than 5 years away I’m sure we can expect more letting off of steam over this in the coming weeks!

I suspect that very few people know that we have our very own Locomotion No1, albeit, a very impressive artwork in Spring Street off Yarm Road? The sculpture was designed by artist Andrew McKeown who has completed many large sculptures and artworks within the Tees Valley and all with a theme of growth, change and renewal often combined with historic references as here were the old terrace housing alongside the railway track was demolished to make way for a new modern development. This was the first time that I had seen the sculpture without any obstructions in front of it and thought it too good to miss.

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

Gold Badges to Local Blood Donors

Images of the order of proceedings for the presentation of gold badges to local blood donors. My late mum Doreen Birtle was one of 6 people from Billingham being honoured. For many years donors could only make two donations a year so reaching 50 was a real achievement. I think mum finished up in the top 60s before she was stood down.

Images and details courtesy of Martin Birtle.