11 thoughts on “Church Row Scheme c1934

  1. The photographs are part of a series taken from various standpoints in Paradise Street and show the remaining south side of Tees Street. The top photo shows what is possibly No.17 Tees Street: there was in fact a narrow alleyway between this and the wall of the North Shore workshops showing the window apertures; the alley went through to Union Street behind. The shutter and form-work being laid down will be for pillars and support elements for the new rail bridge, prior to excavation of the Church Road underpass through to Portrack.


  2. The Church Road scheme was opened in 1934-5. Hore Belisha was then Transport Minister.He would have taken particular pride in the ” Belisha Beacon” crossing at the top of Church Road.

    Mr Hore Belisha left the Government in around 1940 when he had been Minister for War, where despite the genral policy of the Chamberlin Government to Hitler he had done as much as possible to strengthen Britain’s defences, introducing conscription.
    Hore-Belisha was appointed Minister of Transport in 1934 coming to public prominence at a time when motoring was becoming available to the masses. All UK speed limits for motor cars had controversially been removed by the Road Traffic Act 1930 during the previous (Labour) administration. 1934 was to see record GB road casualties with (7,343 deaths and 231,603 injuries) being recorded, with half of the casualties being pedestrians and three-quarters occurring in built-up areas. Hore-Belisha described this as ‘mass murder’.[2] Shortly after being appointed, he was crossing Camden High Street when a sports car shot along the street without stopping, nearly causing him ‘serious injury or worse.’ He became involved in a public-relations exercise to demonstrate how to use the new ‘uncontrolled crossings’.[2]

    Hore-Belisha’s Road Traffic Act 1934 introduced a speed limit of 30 mph for motor cars in built-up areas. This was vigorously opposed by many, who saw the new regulations as a removal of ‘an Englishman’s freedom of the highway.’ The earlier 20 mph speed limit had been abolished in 1930 because it was universally flouted. A large backlog of court cases had made the law unenforceable. In addition, The Automobile Association (AA) and the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) had frequently been successful in defending their members against evidence from primitive speed traps.[2]

    Hore-Belisha rewrote the Highway Code and was responsible for the introduction of two innovations which led to a dramatic drop in road accidents: the driving test and the Belisha beacon, named after him by the public. On his retirement, he was made vice-president of the Pedestrians’ Association and to this day the logo of the organisation includes a Belisha Beacon.[3]


  3. Gazette dated July 11th 2013 there is a bit from Remember When, 70 years after column about Church Road.
    It tells us it was opened by Mr Hore-Belisha seventy years ago that would make it 1942-3 at a cost of £150,000 and two and a half years work.
    I have a feeling it was up and running earlier than that date, can anyone remember when exactly.


  4. True Fred St Ann’s Hill was vanishing in the clearances that Stockton Corporation started, housing schemes were going on in all area’s, we old hands still called it St Ann’s, the first Council owned houses, the first in the Country I believe as the old houses of Stockton vanished. Blue Hall estate was taking many of the people being moved on, my future wife and family were moved on from the High Street Norton when part of it was knocked down to build the row of shops.
    I saw a lot of it from the cab of a truck as Dad delivered bricks and building material to the sites. Kendrew’s around the Norton Green area, Primrose Hill, the Grange, Mount Pleasant and others. Bricks from Blacketts and Crossleys, cement or quick lime and wood. There were quite a few small Haulage Contractors with their own trucks and they were kept busy at a time when so many people were out of work, those times were very hard for so many.
    In the run up to war things started to pick up as new aerodromes were built, runways laid and roads upgraded, so it was Tarmac, hard core, and as the factories started up Steam Coal for the Boilers.
    One very vivid memory was being winched up Berk Brow backwards then being lowered back down on the winch wire as Dad tipped the load, I did it once then got out at the bottom and watched after that.
    I spent a lot of time in Portrack with friends or courting, mind you had to pass the guard on the Railway crossing to do that, “it is OK he is one of us so I could take Josie home” some were not so lucky.
    A lot of the old Portrack must have gone before my time part of it to build the new Church Road connection, if you remember walking through it the whole was solid concrete with the walkway much higher than the road, it was more like a Canal cut and must have taken some building as they obviously mined under the railway.


    • Frank when you talk about the 1st Council houses in Portrack and people moving out to the Blue Hall estate, were they going to the new Blue Hall or the old one? Knowing that the old one which is north of Norton Avenue and the old one being south of the Avenue.


      • Bob, all the houses had been built north of the Avenue when I was at Norton Board School we had loads of kids from Leven Road Swale Esk Balder Eamont Skerne and others who all had their own football sides.
        The South side of the Avenue must have been almost complete as my future wife’s family moved into Somerset Road, Drake Raleigh Waterford having been up a while and all at the time part of a very decent and thriving community. They moved to make way for the new shops in the High Street around 1936-7.
        Beaconsfield Road in my early days was across a field by farm track until Kendrew completed the Bradbury Road estate up to that track and across the grounds of what had been Norton House, I remember that being demolished, “err” just.
        Other parts of Norton were still being built Kiethlands and what we called Mount Pleasant, new houses had been built in Portrack though many of the old parts remained until well after the war.
        As I said I saw these things from the cab of a truck, rather a unique experience for any child back then though we did have a car, “err” I mean two, a Ford 8 and an Austin Chummy two seater, which car got my mother a warning during the war years, another story.
        Being a lad who saw everything as an adventure travelling with Dad during holidays was to me a bit like time travel we saw new things each day and going into factories with loads of steam coal opened my eye’s to the satanic mills, and they were.
        Portrack and Blackets brickworks got me in with the boys and girls as I would be down the claypits playing whilst the wagon was loaded all hand ball and when old enough was taught how to catch three bricks and stack them in a continuous movement. Those early days got me some very good friends at the time and later a few girl friends as we all got the dance bug.
        The people of Portrack were hard workers, the women worked in the factories during the war, they were fun people who played hard when the chance arose, Christmas and New year parties were memorable more so as I played piano so was in demand.


  5. Frank’s suggestion about this tube being a coffer dam makes good sense. But I am doubtful whether this will have much to do with the Church Road scheme. As I commented on the last set of pictures “relating to the Church Road scheme”. I wonder if a set of pictures has got mixed in with those from Church Road…

    But Frank has pointed out an important issue, which is how the Chuch Road bridge was built without shutting down the railway line into the Malleable for at least a few weeks.


    • Fred, I think we are all looking at the pictures from our own knowledge of how it was as we knew it, I have memory of the main way to Portrack Lane being over the crossing, though by then the Church Road Scheme was open. Dad always went over the crossing with his truck to the brickworks, no fork lift trucks then it was all hand ball, I sharp learned how to catch three bricks at once and stack them neatly.
      The picture with the square hole looks more to be the back wall of the North Shore Shipyard with
      The houses up to the wall being Tees Street or Union Street one side of Paradise Street having been demolished.
      The picture with the Coffer Dam is from another angle and could show the side of Paradise Street not yet demolished, from the Town we had Church Row, The Square, Paradise Row then Paradise Street right up to the Railway and as the extension went down under the bridge and up a quite steep bank before veering to join Portrack Lane it would fit. There must have been quite a clearance on the other side of the Railway as I have no memory of the Streets behind the Union workhouse.
      The people I knew in Portrack lived in the St Anne’s Hill Area.
      It would be very interesting to find the full story of that development it must be written down somewhere.


      • Frank, your memories are prewar (WWII) mine are post war when Church Road was already 15 years old. Sinking the cutting to make Church road would have probably got close to the water table.Note that the square hole is full of water, and this might have had to be pumped out before excavation could begin.
        It is a mystery
        By the way St Annes Hill had begun to disappear even before the war, being dug out to become Bl Balcketts


  6. I do not know for sure and hate guess work when it comes to history, I do know the circular tube is a Coffer dam. It is placed on the ground then men dig out the soil from under the bottom rim slowly sinking it into the ground. Why they would be sinking a coffer dam I do not know although if that is the end of Paradise Row and they were going under the Railway then the River would be above the level of the road they were building and we all know the banks are porous there being a large sand bank up and under the town and the reason the Globe Theatre needs extensive support work, it sits on sand.
    Paradise Row was set to be demolished later as the main work got under way with the underpass and Bridge which was next to Harkers and Browns new Fabrication shops that came much later than the Bridge, and that bridge was taken down a few years back as the new road system went in.
    My “guess” is the early stages of the project as they prepared to go under the railway with the new connecting road which if my memory does not let me down was opened by a very famous personage.


  7. Only half an answer. Because the land is so flat, I doubt that it is part of Church Road – unless it was to do with Maritime Road – even then I doubt it. I have no idea what the big duct is for, I can only say what it is not. It must be about 6′ dia, made of welded thin plate therefore unsuitable for underground drains, or as a pile (as it is). Doing a bit of photoshop on the top one shows the bottom of the hole has weld mesh and has been concrete cast. Also in the top picture; the wall from the left side has a door like opening, at the left end, with a chap standing on a heap of timbers in front of the opening. In the distance , through the opening is a small building (about 10′ sq.) The row of houses appears to go hard up against the wall.

    Not much help, but thats my effort!


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