50 thoughts on “An aerial view of Head Wrightson

  1. Keith Clennett was working as an instrument design draughtsman at I.C.I. Chilton House before he left to join Stockton police force.

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  2. Keith Clennett made the rank of Sergeant in the police force but died very young, as did big Peter Barron who worked in the Bridgeyard at the Forge as a plater, he was also a Sergeant. He was a good footballer who played for Head Wrightsons. He went with his wife & daughter to watch his son playing football for West End juniors at Grosvenor Road, the referee did not turn up, so big Peter agreed to referee the game, he collasped & died.

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  3. It appears you worked in the Davy McKee Drawing Office. You were probably there when all the windows facing Stockton High Street were changed. I was a joiner for HW and worked on that job. The hardest part of that work was taking all the materials up those outside stairs, which was a long haul. Comparing normal housing this would be a 4 or 5 story building.

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  4. I worked at H.W.I.S.W.E.L drawing office from 1958 to 1966. The Drawing Office can be seen at the top of your photo perpendicular to the river, in the bend. I had my twentyfirst lunchtime party in the pub ‘at the top of the street’. I live in Holland now, met Alan Kidd here one day. Four of the drawing office lads became Bobbies including Keith Clennett. I owe most of the limited success that I have had in my life to what I learned in the Shops and Drawing Office. at ‘Heads’. Ever grateful to Jim Scaife, Max Clark, Reg Williams, Ken Bland, Tom Wilson. Bryan ?, We did beautiful Proposal Drawings together.

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  5. I worked at Stockton forge with Harry Marsden. Harry has just been back for a few weeks and we went out a couple of times for a drink and ‘remember the old days at the forge’ talk. He doesn’t look too bad. It was him who put me onto this site. He went back to New Zealand last week.

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  6. As to the vandals who burnt down the Stockton Football Stand at the Victoria ground those many years ago, I have met up with one of the culprits here in Australia and he admitted to me to having done the dastardly deed. When we were kids, I look back at some of the things we got up to and shudder to think, how we got away with so much. I am told the police came around to see me one day as part of a gang who had done some vandalism, but when the police Sergeant learnt I was only seven years old he just shrugged his shoulders and told my mother to make me understand the gravity of such behaviour, I know the leader of our gang was sent to Borstal for his part in the crime. How close I came to a life of crime, no one knows, but I am thankful to that police Sergeant.

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  7. Yes Granville I am still in full control of my memory and I remember you very well from the Template shop where we both served our time, you to Little Harry Wilson, and myself to John (Jocks) Ward. Harry Thompson was our Foreman of Norton Cricket Team fame. As you said we had a good grounding in Engineering being trained at Head Wrightsons, coupled with our night School qualifications from the Stockton /Billingham Polytechnic. This sort of training helped many lads up to more senior positions in later life. As for local sportsmen at Heads I remember that Stockton Forge Inter Departmental Cricket team could field a full team of North Yorkshire and Durham Experienced Cricketers.

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  8. Len, of course I”m not offended. I started using my full name after moving South in 1969. I frequently visit Teesside staying at my brother-in-laws in Thornaby quite close to where Lenny Sewell lived. I dont think Benny has realised yet that I am Gran Cooper!! I”m guessing that you lived in Newham Grange vicinity and must have passed our house in Grays Rd on your way to the Victoria Ground. Did you know that one of a stick of bombs destroyed a house close to the Institute in Grays Rd? A Mr.Chapman was killed and I believe he was one of the Chapmans Garage owners. The other bombs did no damage landing near the Scrap Works, Johnnos field and Wrens Mill Field. The Stockton F.C. to Chadwicks right is Jock Newall, a fiery little Scotsman. Finally to Benny – burning of the Stand at Stockton – not really vandals, it may have been some kids from Elsdon St deciding to roast some potatoes in a little fire a little to close to the wooden structure. Barry did brilliantly but he never captained Sheffield Wednesday, he did play against six or so of the top centre forwards of the time such as Nat Lofthouse, Charlie Wayman and Bill Holden. He came out on top and Nat Lofthouse was particularly impressed.

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  9. Granville, I hope I didn”t offend you by calling you Granny but that is what you were known as in the local football circles. I played a couple of games for the first team when I was captain of Heads juniors, one game was against North Skelton Mines who were a good team at the time. I started playing for the first team in the 1962-63 season. Arthur Hodgson, Dennis Johnson & Roy Crallen were still playing, the rest from your day had moved on for various reasons. One disappointment was getting beat by Cargo Fleet in the Ellis Cup Semi Final on the toss of a coin, Cargo Fleet beat Redcar Albion 5-0 in the Final in 1969.

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  10. When they were doing the excavation, probably for the new College or the tenement buildings nearby, there was a piece of land which was fenced off with notices to “Keep Out” and “Asbestos”. It was probably the negligent dumpings by Cork Insulation in which people had not been educated in at that time.

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  11. Another character involved in football was Tommy Harper from the Teasdale Template Shop, he was the North Riding F.A.Secretary. S.Finlay – did your friend happen to be called Colin Larsen because he also used to make the oxo & run the bath after the games, also retrieve the ball from the cricket field & cemetery when it was kicked over the perimeter fence.

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  12. My friend and I used to go to Heads football matches at their ground every saturday and make the oxo for the team and run the bath for the lads after the match. This would be in the 60″s. We were about 15 or 16. Happy times.

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  13. Recent comments have brought back memories of playing for Heads about 1960. Sticker Dickinson persuaded me to play for them as I worked at the Forge Tilery. Not being particularly fit I initially played for the second team in the Thornaby Charity Cup where we lost in the Final,1-0, to Heads first team. On the way to Final we beat Brian Days All Stars Windmill team. The following season I played in first team finishing second in league and qualifying through to last eight of North Riding Senior Cup where we lost to a last minute penalty at York City Res on their ground. We had a good team made up of Arthur Hodgson, Matty Young, Denis Johnson, Peter Ambrose, Peter Lax, Jack Longstaff, Eddie Highfield, Eddie Graham, Myself, Roy Crallan and Joff Earnshaw. Sticker and Joffs Dad, Jock Earnshaw, were both great characters. The next season Bill Jeffs got the Managers job at Whitby, recruiting Eddie Graham and myself along with my old pal Keith Moody. Mention of Harry Wilson, referee – I was apprenticed to Harry in The Forge Template Shop, and once went to Old Trafford with him when he reffereed there. Mention of Barry Butler in other messages. It is 50 years this season since Norwich City when a Third Div team got to F.A.Cup Semi Final. It is being celebrated this weekend when they play Barnsley. My wife and stepsons will be in attendance, Barrys family. Benny, I will travel up from Bristol when you come over fom Aussie and get Keith Moody and a few others for a night out. Finally to Len Nicholson its a long time since I was called Granny!! Thanks for the mention.

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  14. It was common practise for Northern League players to play for Head Wrightsons teams at the end of the season. Having three successful teams in the Teesside, South Bank & Teesborough(Sunday)Leagues in the sixties, plus Ellis Cup & Thornaby Charity Cup Competitions, there were games nearly every day so we needed these players to fill in for players who had other commitments such as night school, overtime work & injuries, but there were no Big Time Charlies because they would have been shown the door by the manager Bob(Sonny)Nicholson. I remember a young professional playing for us in a pre-season match against South Bank, he was told at half-time he was being replaced and he said “do you know who I am?”. He was told in no uncertain terms “I don”t give a $*^< if you are John Wayne you"re off". Needless to say he went to play for Bishop Auckland.

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  15. Yes Anon, I was a proud Primrose Hill lad and I never played for the local team, the reason was I was always playing in the Northern League for either Southbank, Whitby Town, Crook Town, Hereford United in the Southern League and lastly Stockton FC in the Midland League before transferring out to South Africa with my company at the age of 27 years, where I played five seasons as a professional in the South African National League. So you can see, I did not have any free time to play for the locals. On recollection I did play a few games for Head Wrightsons when I had a short break between playing for Southbank and Whitby Town, when Sticker Dickenson was the Manager. Heads had a great team in those days with the Morgan brothers, Albert Pratt, Sonny Nicholson, Barry Dickens and many more top line footballers. In fact, I remember playing one game for Primrose Hill after Jackie Potter asked me to fill in as they were a man short for a night match, Jackie was a neighbour in Hawthorne Road. I also played a few games for Ashmores before moving to South Africa, with players like Jack Gilson the two Jeff Smiths, Lol Carlton, Roy Arkle, Brian Cox, John Conners,(See photo on this site) another first class Teesside League team. I was sorry to see the demise of the Stockton And District League as it was a first class training ground between junior football and more senior teams and even players moving in to the professional ranks. Another Primrose Hill lad was my next door neighbour who was a few years younger than me, Keith Webster, who went on to play for Newcastle United and finished his career out here in Australia with a top Victorian team in Juventus, who won all before them. He had my cousin alongside him in this team in Keith Lakey, Rocka Lakey”s son, an ex Boro player. Neither of these locals played local football as they were too busy playing for more senior teams. I am sure, like me, they always took a keen interest in local football and were very proud of the achievements of teams like Primrose Hill, Sparkes FC, Tilery, Portrack Shamrocks and many others, too numerous to mention.

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  16. Freddy Watson was in charge of the Dispatch Department & Roy Brown was chief of the Wages Department. Benny Brown was a Primrose Hill lad and proud to have worked at Head Wrightsons, so didn”t he ever consider playing football for any of these two teams like his former Primrose Hill colleagues Frank Seddon, Edgar Fellows & Jacky Cutler.

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  17. I seem to remember another referee from Head Wrightson Thornaby by the name of Watson. Worked in the Transport Office. His brother Bob was the train driver. Roy Brown I believe worked in the Wages Office.

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  18. Some more from Head Wrightsons who made a contribution to football – Tony Boylan (Seaton Stampings), he commanded the highest transfer fee in the Northern League at the time in the seventies between Bishop Auckland & Blyth Spartans others were Granny Cooper, Roy Brown, Harry Armstrong, Edgar Fellows, Eddie Wilkinson, Alan Iceton, Keith Moody, Alan Mawby, John Kirk & John Kears. Two other Football League referees were Harry Wilson(The Forge)& Alec Brown(Teesdale M/C Shop). Harry, I think it is the Harburn brothers(Bill, Albert & Bobby)you have referred to, not Harbron, & last but not least Bob Nicholson who took over the reins from Jimmy(Sticker)Dickinson as Head Wrightson”s Mr Football.

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  19. Mention of football prompted me to recall some of the contributions to football thet Head Wrightson made. I recall Henry Harris, the Harbron brothers, the Kirby brothers, as well as yourself. They also produced Billy Day (Boro), plus the best referee of his time Pat Partridge and also my very good friend Norman Liggit whose top class career was cut short by injury to his achiles tendon in an onfield clash, (in a Boro Probable V Possibles clash at Ayresome park under Bob Dennison) with his direct mark, the great, Brian Clough. There were many more whom I cannot bring to name at present, of similar abilities, who all contributed to the great tradition. I wish them all well, wherever they may be now. Best Wishes for the New Year to all former workmates and friends.

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  20. Mention of Jim Rickleton brings back memories of Friday afternoon football on the Head Wrightson Ground supervised by big Jim Rickleton. I remember one game in which Jim always took part in one of the teams as well as refereeing the game. Being a bit cheeky I pushed the ball between Jim”s legs and then was on my way around him, or so I thought, when he punched me in the solar plexus and put me away for the rest of the match. Jim taught me a lesson that day, not to take the micky out of older players, I always remembered that lesson in future years. I also remember you from the years I spent at Head Wrightsons Stockton Forge, very happy years indeed that, as you say, set you up for life. As a Head Wrightson Tradesman you had no problems getting a job, although I left the trade as a 23 years old when made redundant at the Forge after returning from National Service I was lucky enough to land a job at Ashmores as a trainee Estimator, thank to Harry Soppit the Apprentice Boss and Frank Shepherd the Engineering Director. Imagine my surprise when I was offered a position with a fifty percent annual increase and staff conditions by Ashmores, another great company to learn your profession with. Alas, both of these great Engineering Companies are no longer in existence and a great number of Teesside youngsters will never have the opportunities the we had.

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  21. I am Harry Marsden, and was in the apprenticeship school in Thornaby in 53. I remember Big Jim Rickleston and his dogs, and “The Mekon”, and PT on the roof (Freezing!) I now live in NZ and can say my time at HW was a good start in life for me, as I went on to work all over the world. My brother Bob lived in Mowbray Rd. I am one of six brothers all of whom had a different trade. Nice to hear some familiar names and places mentioned.

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  22. Harry Marsden sounds a familiar name. Could have been in the same year (1953) as me in the Apprentice School. Are you the same Marsdens who lived in Mowbray Road, Norton?

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  23. I worked for a very short time at Head Wrightson in Tilery in the mid 60s. I got a job as a platers helper, my brother worked there, his name was Harry Marsden. I also have a brother called Jack, he was a plater and is now in New Zealand. I have been in Canada since 1971. I remember a chap we used to call Skunner, he was always kicking things.

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  24. You are right Bob the Craven Lathe was nearest to the door near the Medical Centre,then the Post Borer. The lads who worked on the lathe were Keith Dunn, Stan Hume & Tommy Proctor & the operators of the borer were Norman Dalton, Alec Fowler & Dennis Johnson.

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  25. The building to the left of the Bridgeyard was the Heavy Plate Shop. This building would have been erected in approx 1956. I can remember as an apprentice working with Benny Harle the Chargehand Joiner doing foundations for some of the heavy machinary. This would be at the General Office end and on the side nearest the Medical Centre.

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  26. The building on the right of the Bridgeyard was the new Heavy Machine Shop.The Heavy Plate Shop was always part of the Bridgeyard & is not in the top right hand side of the photo,you forgot to mention the Post Borer alongside the Craven Lathe in the Heavy Plate Shop.

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  27. The white building with the black roof & door,on the side of the Bridgeyard was the Heavy plate Shop,(Not the heavy machine shop, when I worked there from 69 – 80 that is)and it housed an extremely large Lathe, Hydraulic Press and Stress Relieving Furnace.

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  28. Malcolm Robson worked in Jack Wellums Shop which was near to where I worked. I knew Malcolm Robson very well as we were apprentices at the same time, although he was slightly younger than me. I was in the Joiners Shop. I wonder if Tracy Murray could remember me to him.

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  29. The white building with the black roof & door,on the side of the Bridgeyard was the new heavy Machine Shop in the top right hand side of the photo.The Malcolm Robson referred to originated from Shotton Colliery & his father had the Blue Post pub in Stockton High Street.

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  30. Spike Robson and Doris Robson are my late grandparents, parents of the late Tommy, Audrey Jefferies (nee Robson), Arthur and Michael.

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  31. To Tracy Murray, did your dad belong portrack and was his dad Spike Robson? and Mother Called Doris,its just a guess but we are related somewere along the line,

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  32. My dad Malcolm Robson worked at Heads. I remember taking him to work as he still doesnt drive. He was there till the end in 86ish. He has a lot of good memories.

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  33. Thanks for the reply Mike there may not be too many of my year left now. That is exactly why it is important to get things down on paper before it is too late. I have no regrets about disipline at Trinity and I had as much stick as most, we even had to streatch the drum if you could not learn your lines for poetry. I think you will see from other letters, very few indeed complain about being desiplined. It was certainly a better country to live in.

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  34. J.Norman Kidd – Norman as it happens I have a copy of the book bought for the course. Whatever else he was Tom was certainly a self publicist & recommended his book to all attendees. I am sorry to learn of his death, as I say he was certainly a character and a half. I”m afraid that I am too young to remember, first hand, your father”s company in West Row, where was it sited. Same question for the Church Road premises.

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  35. Mike, I was in Tommy Sowler”s class in 1938-39 when war was declared. I was evacuated to Weardale. Tommy, as he was affectionately known, I believe went into the Royal Air Force. I failed my scholarship which was not a surprise to me. That apart I was a loyal Holy Trinity lad, who suffered the cane and slipper of Mr Salmon. Mr Sowler always maintained his interest in local history. (see his excellent book) ” A History of the Town and Borough of Stockton on Tees”. He passed away some years ago. I am however sorry to say he makes no mention of Fred Kidd and Son who took over his father”s employers R.Rogers of Stockton. I remember him telling the class and showing us a photograph of his father with a team of horses pulling the huge load of heavy iron ships parts from West Row. It was my Uncle Frederick Kidd who, at the time of the 1920″s depression, was engineering workshop foreman, and who bought out and formed the new company Fred Kidd & Son Engineers and Brass Founders in West Row. In the 1930″s Frederick and his son Tom Kidd, built a new works in Church Road. This works had a seperate foundry and operated a three shift system. It had a seperate works canteen, quite novel at that time. Most engineers ate their sandwiches at the lathe or very near. This canteen served hot meals cooked on site. I know because I did the canteen accounts for a short time. I got a blast one day when an irate knock came on the Time Office window from a certain A. Dixon who had been charged 1 penny for a teacake off his wage packet in payment. This mistake had arisen because his daughter also worked for the firm, she was called Annie Dixon. Alf made it very plain he was not paying for “our Annie”s bloody teacakes!”. We became good friends after that little episode and I would sneak out of the office to help him for a short time. I think it worthy of note much of today”s life is not new. I appreciate to some extent the saying “get on your bike” because the whole of the seven children of Joseph Kidd (my Grandfather)had to leave an idylic homestead in Swinhopburn Weardale to find work for his children. Fred was one – and he gave work to quite a number of Stockton people. Surely this should also be documented?

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  36. Looking at this photograph I would say that the University would not have been built on HW land. I can see what was the Joiners shop(white with black roof) which was the last building before going into Crossthwaites or Cork Insulation property. When they were building the University there was a great excavation which was marked with having “Beware Asbestos” there and the area was roped off.

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  37. I once attended a local history course run by the redoubtable Tom Sowler who mentioned the ancient “Bishop”s Landing Place”. It was near the end of Finkle Street apparently, can anyone come up with more precise information? As to Tom Sowler, is he still hale and hearty? I”ll never forget what an enthusiastic individual he was, his talks were always sure, to both educate and amuse!

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  38. This photograph shows the Head Wrightson Teesdales site in its later years. This is probably during the 1970″s as the Riverside Road can be seen in the background. The Collingwood pub can be seen opposite the main office block. The original photograph was rescued from a cupboard shortly before the offices closed for good in the mid 1980″s when the company, then known as ITM Head Wrightson, went into recievership.

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