7 thoughts on “Stockton High Street c1950s

  1. Bob, the High Street seems to have been subjected to ‘many and various schemes’, in the interests of vehicular traffic and pedestrian access etc. Nevertheless, I am always astonished at the pre-WW1 photographs that regularly appear on these pages, that show scenes of complete mayhem, or chaos in terms of people, trams and horse-drawn vehicles spread across the whole width of the street … along with a general air of vibrant, thriving prosperity!

    I was fascinated by your piece regarding ‘Fabian of the Yard’, as I well remember being glued to our small b/w ‘Ferguson’ TV, back in the 1950’s, watching actor Bruce Seton in his huge Humber Hawk car, charging around a gritty, almost traffic-free London… with a bell ringing on the front! Far more exciting to a young lad, than the more cosy, “It’s a fair cop, Guv ” London, as portrayed in the the Dixon of Dock Green TV series, which featured, the even then aging actor, Jack Warner.


    • Hi Chris, my sister Anne worked for Bob Fabian unmarried sister in London for about 15 years, 1950-1965, as a housekeeper, cleaner and bed maker, which was the popular job for thousands of North East Girls in those days; mostly because of the free accommodation and meals offered. Mrs Fabian was well known because of her brother Bob Fabian, the Scotland Yard detective, and for this reason and others, was able to get seats when no one else could to all the main London theatres. When my sister told her we – meaning my girl friend and I (now wife) were coming to London for a weekend break, she got us the only unsold tickets in the theatre for guess what?…The Royal Box to see “My Fair Lady”.

      During the interval we were served coffee and biscuits with free chocolates in the Royal Box by an 19th century uniformed flunkie who was wearing a silver men’s wig, The overall best memory of that evening was the audience kept glancing up at us as if to say “They must be terribly wealthy to be able afford those seats”, little did they know it was a kid from the Five Lamps who had got them free due to Mrs Fabian ringing around her ticket agent friends!


  2. Thanks Chris, it’s not important but I surmise that these RAF men had got off the bus from Thornaby at the bus stop located outside the Odeon cinema, and they had crossed over the High Street at the traffic lights to catch the Darlington bus. This explains why they appear to be walking from Bridge Road, which would hold no real interest for them, the new railings the Council erected down the middle of the High Street intersection were put there as a safety measure to prevent people crossing where ever they liked. Off-topic: My sister Anne Wilson knew Bob Fabian known as “Fabian off the Yard”, quite well, in the 1950s he was Britain’s most famous detective and as a boy of 17 he wanted to sponsor me to join the Metropolitan Police, London, I did not know it but I had the makings of a top class Police Officer, I now regret not taking up his offer.


  3. What is the tall building visible to the left of Robinson’s tower, but which appears to be behind
    the chimney pots on the roofs of the high street buildings this side of Dovecote Street?


  4. As always, great info from Bob Wilson re: Thornaby Aerodrome. However, there appear to be two more RAF lads slightly ahead of the three strolling with their raincoats in the foreground. The other two seem slightly keener to reach that bus! My Dad (originally from Liverpool), was demobbed with the rank of Flt. Sgt. at RAF Thornaby in mid-1946. This came after serving 6-years in Egypt and E. Africa. He met my mother (from Middlesbrough) at the Maison de Danse in 1945, when he and his ‘crew’ used to visit The Theatre pub on Yarm Lane during weekend leave. After their marriage in late ’46 my Dad, by now 95 years old, remained on Teesside, where he has worked and lived ever since. Thornaby Aerodrome also served myself well as a teenager, for like many others, I received off-road ‘driving-lessons’ from my Mum on its network of abandoned runways during the mid-60’s. It’s a tradition that continues even today, but now on the service-roads of the Thornaby Road Industrial Estate, where I taught my grand-daughter to drive!


  5. Walking on the pavement in this photograph you can see three RAF men in uniform and carrying raincoats (it had been raining) the time is 10 minutes past 2.00 pm, directly in front of them is the United Bus Services number 21 bus stop, the number -’21’- was the Stockton to Darlington bus which stopped at RAF Middleton Saint George and terminated at Darlington. My guess is these three young airmen have been to RAF Thornaby and are seen returning to RAF Middleton St George. If these three RAF men were carrying duffel bags we could assume they were going on leave from RAF Thornaby, but if that was the case they’d probably go to Thornaby rail station to catch the train to Darlington and points north and south..

    Thornaby RAF base closed to flying in October 1958, when the Hawker Hunters based there of 92 squadron left Thornaby for Middleton St George. So a good guess is this photo was taken in 1958, and these men had been to RAF Thornaby to be given information on Hawker Hunter aircraft, their flying and maintenance. Middleton St George aerodrome served various squadrons and units including No. 13 Operational Training Unit (OTU), No. 2 Air Navigation School, No. 4 Flight Training School, and squadrons that used Meteors, Hunters, Javelins and Lightnings. The RAF left the station in 1964 but the aerodrome was reopened in 1966 as a civil airport. It is now Durham Tees Valley Airport.


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