Stockton MP, Harold Macmillan

t12799Captain Harold Macmillan and his wife Dorothy. Macmillan was MP for Stockton from 1924 – 1929 and from 1931 – 1945. He later became Prime Minister in 1957 – 1963. In 1984 Macmillan accepted a hereditary peerage, becoming Earl of Stockton at the age 90.

Image and details courtesy of Derek Buttle.

10 thoughts on “Stockton MP, Harold Macmillan

  1. He meant well .. I believe he did his best he understood working class he fought in the trenches he gave hope to down trodden Stockton on Tees against the odds being Bill Rodger’s .. don’t live there now remember it well … part of life’s rich tapestry


  2. I heard a similar story Derek, that Macmillan while canvassing in Portrack, tried to make a speech and the locals fed up with unemployment and poor housing chased him and his entourage out of Portrack. Half of Roseworth estate had what was called Macmillan houses, these houses were built smaller than the original ones, despite that a lot of people were glad to have a house with a bathroom and indoor toilet.


    • The new house building programme in the early 1950s gave a big boost to Macmillan’s political reputation. He managed to achieve a target many had thought was impossible. As Kathleen Cook correctly says to help him achieve the numbers he stressed the need for more concentrated development on the available land e.g. on Roseworth Estate – hence the ‘Macmillan houses’ – and if you also look at the layout of Hardwick, one of the next big Stockton council housing projects you can see some of the results of this in the estate’s layout, as compared with parts of Roseworth.


  3. As Prime Minister, Macmillan applied Keynesian policies to manage the economy, which helped keep unemployment below the 300000 level in the 1950s and early 60s. As Housing Minister he pushed forward a housebuilding programme of 400000 new houses a year. This led to the building of new estates around the outskirts of Stockton and the demolition of the terraced houses in Portrack and their replacement with new Council House Estates, over the 1954-64 period.

    Macmilan would have also known of the prewar slum clearance down by the river and the rehousing of people in the Swainby Road area.

    I have no doubt that despite the white gloves Macmilan was as good a Tory politician as the ordinary man or woman could hope to have.

    He stopped National Service, with the money being used to expand education at the Technical School and University level.

    His career was wrecked by bad judgement over the Profumo Scandal. One of his most famous quotes was what did he fear most as a Prime Minister….”Events! Dear boy. Events!”

    It is generally reckoned that losing the 1945 election in Stockton was Macmillans best move. He then took over the safe Tory seat in Bromley in South London. This allowed him to increase his contacts in the upper echelons of the Tory Party. He was a natural succesor to Anthony Eden having been one of the few Tories who had supported Churchill in the prewar period.


  4. Harold Macmillan always spoke well of Stockton and ‘Stockton’ in his title Earl of Stockton was chosen because of this. At one time during his representation of the town in Parliament he maintained a residence in Hartington Road in the town. I remember him visiting Stockton in April 1962 as Prime Minister and seeing him in the Newtown area. George Chetwynd who had ousted him as the town’s M.P. in 1945 left Parliament and in the resulting by-election Harold Macmillan came to ‘rally the troops’, perhaps hoping for a conservative victory in his old constituency, as the party was taking something of a buffeting at the time. It was a forlorn hope, times had changed, as had the political affiliations in the area and the Labour candidate Bill Rodgers was elected


  5. It was said of him in later years that he always remembered and carried with him the scars of unemployment in the 1930’s and its effect on Stockton. How true that is, I don’t know.


  6. The onslaught might have been in the 1945 election, which he lost, partly because of the wipe out of the Conservative and Liberal parties by Labour, but also because of the boundary changes whereby Thornaby was lost.

    Portrack with its large working class Catholic population was anti-Tory. Kids used to walk the street with tin cans filled with burning paper, tied to a length of string. They would swing the can round and round their heads. In some manner it showed allegance to Labour.

    What might have been in the 1935 General Election, Macmillan visited the Conservative Club in Barratts Street, an edifice built more like a chapel than a pub. He bought some of the “members” a drink at the bar. There was quite a to-do about “the bribery”. After that the Conservative Club declared itself as being “non-political”.

    On a historical note quite a lot of the working class voted Conservative, on the basis that the Tories favoured protection of home industries. These, like steel, began to face very severe competion around 1900 as Germany began to industrialise and surpass British technology.


  7. My Dad came from Portrack. He once told us that Macmillan canvassed the area and the angry locals mobbed his car and overturned one of the entourage vehicles… He didn’t return !


    • This story may be well be apocryphal, but my mother would recall an incident when Macmillan shook hands with the ‘common’ folk whilst wearing white gloves. His closeness to the Londonderrys was also grounds for concern…


      • I also heard this from my mother who was born in Portrack. We were told that he shaken by the event! Mind it could be an apocryphal. We were also told he was so shaken he called into the pub (The Royal Hotel) my grandfather ran for a stiff drink!


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