136 – 142 High Street, Stockton

t13114I believe this is 136 – 142 High Street, Stockton. It looks like a completely different place, but you’ll be surprised…From the left, this is currently what is there … HSBC Bank (was Midland Bank), New Look (was Littlewoods, previously ‘Gargett and Son’ and ‘Coates and Sedgewicks’), Regent Street, Marks and Spencer (bow window fronted house and house with impressive portico). The next building still exists but was split into two shops ‘Klick ‘20 min’ Photos’ and McColl’s, Ropery Street. The next building still exists and is Greggs! Who would of thought any of that scene still existed today.

Photograph and details courtesy of Jonathan May.

7 thoughts on “136 – 142 High Street, Stockton

  1. With regard to the date of the study: the best clue is the probably the name of the Carrier painted on the side of the cart on the extreme right of the photograph. The image copy is low resolution unfortunately – but I believe it reads ‘S & D RAILWAY Co.’ . . . IF this is the case then the study probably dates to around 1863: in that year the S & D Railway was incorporated into the NER Company *

    Further clues can be gained from the architecture. Window shutters were virtually outmoded by 1865 but the building on the extreme right still retains them. The windows in all but one of the buildings are small pane, Georgian sash type. By the 1850’s – 60’s larger panes of cylinder glass were becoming available due to more advanced manufacturing techniques ** and the repeal in 1845 of the extortionate excise duty on glass #. Owners it seems have not yet had adequate time to replace their rotting window frames by taking advantage of these developments . . . The new housing in Stockton from this period (e.g. Hume, Garbutt, Alma, Major Street etc.), would be, in most cases, fitted with the latest ‘3 or 4 vertical light’ sash windows.

    Morris’ 1861 Trade Directory for Stockton gives a snapshot of this section of the High Street and shows that Nos. 136-142 were exclusively the homes of gentry and notables, save for No.137, which can be seen on the left as the premises with the shop front – also shuttered. This is listed as a ‘Confectioners’ managed by Hannah Robinson; seemingly the only overtly commercial concern within this group of buildings at this time, which were to rapidly change over the next decade or so.

    Standard lamps for gaslight only became a major feature of most streets after the mid 1880’s, after the development of the gas mantle ##. Prior to this, occasional street corners were fitted with a bracket and the iconic 4-square shade for a gas flare. Large scale O.S. maps for Stockton, dating to the mid 1850’s show these brackets fitted on street corners, even in the meanest districts like the Quayside. It is not evident from the photo that there was any form of lighting in this part of the High Street, which again may indicate a quite early date.

    Discuss . . . Answers please on the back of a picture postcard of today’s breath-taking High Street!

    Many thanks to Stockton Library for the use of their historic reference literature and excellent study facilities.

    * James, L. 1983. A Chronology of the Construction of Britain’s Railways 1778-1855. Ian Allan: London
    ** http://www.buildingconservation.com/
    # http://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/the-glass-excise-and-window-taxes/
    ## http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_lighting

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  2. Oh I love this picture, I can just imagine my great great grandmother walking along here. Her name was Mary and she married George Potts at Holy Trinity Church in 1841. She lived in The Square and was a straw bonnet maker. Her husband was a master mariner who got lost at sea.

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  3. There have recently been comments about the fact, that in the face of dwindling High Street trading due to the rise of Shopping malls, Hypermarkets and E-commerce, the possibility of residential property being re-introduced to High Streets should be examined. This photograph is therefore a tremendous aid in imagining what Stockton High Street could once-again revert to, if such a policy became probable. Can any one hazard a guess at the date it was taken?

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  4. Can anyone put a date to this amazing picture. It looks like it was taken from outside ‘the Royal Oak’ looking at the pavement in the forground.

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