25 thoughts on “Billingham Town Centre

  1. I was at Stephenson until I moved to Scotland in 1966. I did part of my first year, went to Low Grange Infants and Juniors. I believe that was a halcion period for Billingham, the flower show at John Whitehead Park and fun at the Forum… remember the day the Duke of Edinburgh landed there as I watched from Low grange Infants…

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  2. I think it was Mr Bennington. He once threw Nicky Colby and myself out of Design Technology for laughing uncontrollably. Duncan Cowley who has posted earlier in this thread was there.

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  3. Is this the same Mr Wealleans who taught at Northfield and one afternoon filled his woodwork classroom with around a dozen of us young lads and gave us all six of the best with a three foot length of 2 by 1 from the scrap bin? I think it was, and all for throwing snowballs under the covered area. How times change. It sounds like an old cliche but it didnt do us any harm. On second thoughts it could have been Mr Bennet who replaced you.

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  4. The photograph looks as though it was taken outside of the (still operating) chinese restaurant that you were quite fond of Steve. Between yourself, Ray Carter and Bob McLaney you kept Newcastle breweries afloat and obviously helped the profits of the chinese restaurant. Informtion regarding Tommy Lonsdales death was provided by Alan Robinson (Scobbsy) before he left the country for Thailand, who he was quite close to.

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  5. Willyo (Graham), I didnt know Tommy had passed away. Sorry to hear it. He used to coach our soccer team, Teeside United. Some names are familiar although I used to go to the Micks in Beamish Ave. I vaguely remember the monkeys in Boyes but was more used to the animals in La Ronde! not to mention mixed grills in the Chinese restaurant after the pubs closed.

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  6. Hi Alan and also Graham, I was saddened to read that Tommy Lonsdale had passed away. I didnt know he was good with a bat but could highly recommend his right hand swing with the slipper, but all the same he was a good teacher and, somthing I thought I”d never say, you all were. I knew Alan Coates passed away, the last time I saw him was in Dunns Stores, his wife had him out shopping. Fred chapman he was a really nice man, he used to get us go round Windlestone shops for a quarter of boiled sweets but we never took one out of the bag because he used to weigh them when we got back. I was wondering Alan, do you have any photos of Stepenson hall in the days we went? I”d love to see some, and if the Picture Stockton Team pass my e-mail address on I would be very happy to hear from you. I also remember the film club that was held in the hall on a wednesday evening, the first film show was “The good, the bad and the ugly” and it was the best bob I ever spent. Jimmy McCourt ran it. I was wondering, whatever happened to Mr Carr the french teacher? We always thought he had bad eyes “cos he always wore dark glasses.

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  7. I was delighted to read the post you placed yesterday Graham. I enjoyed what you wrote, as I also earlier enjoyed the words of the two Graemes, Rushmer and Cook. Sorry to hear of the passing of Tommy Lonsdale and Alan Coates. I knew Alan was a alzeimer sufferer but thought he was still living. Tommy was a complete surprise. My strongest memories of Tommy, apart from the “super” team of 1967 which he coached to the final of the County Cup (losing to Durham Johnston grammer school in the final after winning both the Salter and Salmon Stockton/Billingham cups), was his class as a cricketer. He was great with a bat and a ball. I used to play Padder tennis with in the gym but couldn”t live with his class. Sadly, they are just two of a few who are no longer with us. We can add to them the names of Mr Summers, Chapman, McCourt, Mrs Thompson, Harrison, Nicholson, Foster. Perhaps there are more. I am still in the land of the living and celebrate my ** birthday next February 7th, guesstimates on a post card to my e mail address. I”ve been retired since I was sixty and do not regret giving up work. Picturestockton have my e mail address and they will pass it on to any of you for a very reasonable £500 (not really!)payable to the “rest home for The keeper of the Piece of Pain and well known wood block thrower”. It would be lovely to hear from any of my former pupils and I will return your mail with pleasure. I am living in retirement in Redcar, and would be pleased to meet anyone for a coffee and chat. No blocks of wood this time though!

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  8. Sadly Tommy Lonsdale passed away a number of years ago but, like you Graeme(Rushmer), Tom and Alan were an inspiration to me and many of my Stephenson School friends. Both Tommy and John Herron (now retired) looked after the sports side of things when I was at school and during my time we had arguably the best football team in the area thrashing all other Campus and Billingham and Stockton teams, winning both the Salmon and Salter cups, getting to the final of the Durham cup and getting beat by Durham Johnson 2-1, John Hoolahan, are you out there? All you had to do was stick your quif in the balls way and we would have won that game, Wally Cameron was mad as a wasp after that game. Very happy days for me at Stephenson Hall (1963-68). Still see a few old faces around town (Billingham) where I still live but I work overseas, so am not here full time. As they say its a small world and it would be good for any one at school with me to share any fond memories of the school.

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  9. I do not remember the Monkeys in Boyes basement. I must be to young. But I used to work in Wayne Marshalls pet shop & a lot of the customers often used to talk about them & also the bird aviarys dotted around the town centre.

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  10. Oh yes many a Saturday morning I would be taken down to Boyes basement by my Dad to watch the monkeys play- “these animals may bite” signs everywhere so the joy was to put your finger in the cage and pull it out when the Monkey came for you- I soon realised it was all a big scam though – I was only left to watch the monkeys so my dad could go to the bookies without the guilt of knowing his son was locked up in the car – After the monkies had disappeared I was subjected to Bill Beatties and the Model shop whereby my father would stand me in the shop with a box full of Balsa wood while he went to the Bookies- “I will be only 2 minutes lad” I heard every morning-it always ended up an hour, with me stood in the toy shop with my 50p worth of Balsa wood to play with-oh the joys of Billingham!!

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  11. Just found this site while searching my surname. Isn”t it sad that after saying “keep in touch” on the last day of school we haven”t. I haven”t even seen Malcolm Snelling and he”s only round the corner from my mums. That”s where I am weekdays by the way, going home to the Dales at weekends. Have you emigrated yet Cookey? if you are still reading this site.And gillian Cowley, weren”t we lab monitors together for a year? And who can forget Allan Weallans, and the bits of wood flying at us each lesson. I believe some people still carry the scars.I had the old school photo out last year, divorce seems to make you reminisce, god we seemed so young at 16. Does anyone know if old Tommy lonsdale is still around? He was a great inspiration to me, along with Alan Coates who sadly died recently I believe. Would be great to hear from anyone

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  12. Graeme lovely to hear from you. Do you still see Paul and Graham Rushmer? I remember having some great sessions in the Science room! Hope you have a great life in Canada.

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  13. After thinking longer about your name Graeme I realise who you are. The Cook I had in mine was Robert Cook,a member of my Hiking and Climbing Club,who”s fame was legendary!! I can recall you being a friend of Malcolm Snelling,yes? Some of the brats called him”Smelling Snelling” Schoolboys can be a cruel breed.

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  14. Graeme, If you are who I think you are, you were a v.keen hiker and climber.Yes? If it is you I can remember us crossing the infant Tees by paddling with you carrying your expensive boots which you accidently dropped in the fast flowing current. Sadly never to be seen again! What on earth did your Mother say? Pleased to hear that during craft lessons my words didn”t fall on stony ground all those years ago.

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  15. Mr Wealleans – When you mentioned a love of timber on another post some months ago, I wondered if it was the same person who taught me at Stephenson all those years ago! I too can still make a dovetail joint and have a good collection of joinery tools for my DIY. I still have some of the items I made in your classroom and whenever I get a whiff of new timber, I am right back in that classroom. I also remember you, Gillian, very well – just like it was yesterday. I still live in Billingham although I have worked in many parts of the world and we are planning on emigrating to Canada soon.

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  16. I also went to Stephenson Hall but suppose my brother was more memorable. I never got the chance to make a dove tailed joint, I had to be content with making a lampshade and a rice pudding. Most of my ill gotten youth was spent in The Forum walking between the Ice rink and the Baths, looking for “talent”. It cost a shilling to get in, which was most of my pocket money. I swiftly moved on to the La Ronde after obtaining a pair of false eye lashes ( I thought they made me look older). I recently went back to Billingham staying at The Arms. We all decided to go to the Astronaut to relive some memories. Firstly the door was smashed, and that constant BOOM BOOM song sound was coming out. We just looked at each other. One of the “boys” went in and came out visibly shaking and just said “no” quietly.

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  17. Why thank you Mr Weallans. It is me and you may be interested to know that I went on to get a doctorate from Oxford University and now work in The City and do some writing on the side. Put “stewart cowley+bonds” into google and you”ll see some references. I hope you are well. PS I can still make a dovetail joint with the best of them and know the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees which you once said nobody would ever remember.

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  18. During my spell at Stephenson Hall School in the sixties I taught a Cowley. Was it you? Your entry on the web site was hilarious.I really enjoyed it. Thanks for that.

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  19. They”ve popped in and out of my consciousness for the best part of 35 years I suppose but I was walking along the road in London the other day and they swung straight to the front of my head for a reasons that are probably not unrelated to a mid-life crisis of sorts. I”m talking about the monkeys that used to be kept at the back of the carpet department in the basement of Boyes department store in Billingham in the 1960″s. And now thanks to Pauline Holt I have been directed to this website where similar victims can talk to each other. The 1960″s was the age long before the Health and Safety Stormfurhers began stopping us from putting up Christmas decorations in our place of work lest it trigger a genocidal holocaust because of the offence caused to unspecified persons. No, this was an altogether more innocent age when all you needed to construct a habitat for two monkeys was a few feet of 2″ x 1″ timber, a roll of chicken wire, some sawdust and a tree branch clearly filched from John Whitehead Park as opposed to say several acres of Surrey as is now demanded. And so it came to be that one day, out of the blue, two Macaque (?) monkeys appeared in Boyes department store. The police had to be called in to control the crowds. I remember becoming quite confused and thinking that the popular music group “The Monkees” had given up their lives in California and were for some reason playing in a cage in the basement of Boyes. I fretted about how Mickey Dolenz would get his drum kit in and out of the cage. I was 8. We can only assume they were put there as a marketing ploy in order to attract people to the shop in the vain hope they might accidentally recarpet their entire house as they idled back from the monkeys. Equally they could have been put there to amuse your children whilst you went through the process of choosing exactly which large-patterned tufted polypropylene shag pile of desire you wished to purchase. Thinking back it shouldn”t have taken that long then – “choice” wasn”t really on the agenda. But whatever was the motivation it worked; people turned up in their droves. After the crowds died down and had moved on to the giraffe by now installed in ASDA, it became a guilty little pleasure of mine to go down to the basement on my own and just look at them on the way home from school. They say simians share 99.9% of the same genetic material as humans and that if you look into their eyes you will be transported through a rip in the space-time continuum back a the moment before civilization. All I saw was something looking very bored with the thought “If you come one little step closer I going to get that bobble hat off your head and pee in it” dancing across its brain. And then one day they were gone. Conspiracy theories abounded. Had an unscrupulous under-manager from Woolworths really set their recently arrived lion onto them late one night? I think there was a much simpler explanation. You weren”t supposed to feed them – but we did. As a by-product it had become the fetish of one over-zealous store worker to chase small, nameless boys in-between the carpet rolls when they were caught inflagrente delicto. And it wasn”t as though we were giving them luxury goods like fruit. More often than not (and unforgivably) it was Black Jack and Fruit Salad chews that, conveniently, could be purchased for 2d per hundred weight from the first floor or, even better, nicked whilst the sweet counter assistant was touching up her beehive in her hand mirror. Over time you could see the monkeys putting on weight and since monkey dental care was, at that time, in its infancy there was a corresponding blackening of the teeth. It was a sad day when I went down to the basement in Boyes on the way home from school only to greeted by a blank wall and the outline on the floor where the cage had been. I realised then that they would never be coming back but at least it explains why fifty percent of the homes in Billingham have the whiff of the zoo about them even to this day.

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  20. I seem to remember the animals that were in Boyes basement were chimpanzees. It was a shame they were kept in such cramped conditions but we all had to go and have a look. Thankfully the only thing that they keep in the basement now are carpets and furniture, and the odd salesman or two!

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  21. I can remember going to Billingham and having a go on that roundabout, I also remember the cages on the Square with birds in. I seem to also recall Boyes basement having animals in, can anyone remember what they were?

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