5 thoughts on “Ferry across the Tees

  1. I don’t think this is a ferry, it appears to be one of the passenger steamboats that carried people between Stockton and Middlesbrough from the mid 1800`s up until the 1880`s.Before a Tram service was established between Stockton & Middlesbrough,some time after 1880,this was the most convenient way for Stockton residents to commute between the two towns. Although there was a bridge at Stockton, linking the Durham and Yorkshire side of the river, I believe for many years it was necessary to pay a toll to cross this bridge. Indeed I understand the reason there was not a tram link between Stockton & Middlesbrough in the early years was because of a dispute about the crossing of the bridge.
    Without knowing the owner of the boat its difficult to put a name to this vessel.The “Old Glory ” title appears to come from a book of old photos by a local author.I haven`t come across the name any where else.Perhaps some one else can confirm the existence of of the “Old Glory”?
    At this period in Stockton there were two companies running passenger steamboats, Dixon Brothers and Duncan Brothers.Dixon Brothers had a steamboat landing near the Shiplaunch Inn, whilst Duncan Brothers landing was further up river near a pub called the Shades Inn.There are a number of pictures on this site which show boats of these two companies.
    The vessel has just passed the North Shore shipyard,which was owned by Pearse & Co.,later Ropner`s.Unfortunately we don`t know which steamboat landing was it`s final destination.


    • The Paddle steamer appears packed with people and coming upstream having cleared North Shore Shipyard. The river was a hive of activity with many landing and mooring stations along both sides and on the right of picture would be the Thornaby shipbuilding yard further up on the left or Stockton bank was the Castle Moat Ship yard, again on the left bank Thornaby side were the bottling works, South Stockton Iron Works and the Stafford pottery. It could well have been a river bus dropping off and picking up at various landing stages.
      The bridge toll was bought out in 1821 and declared free of tolls the problem being it was not very wide the New Bridge was first talked about in 1870’s but did not get moving until much later. A myriad of small rowing boats crossed at many points of the river to the many ship yards and foundries plus other employment alongside the river, Kelly’s were still crossing the river when I worked in Stockton and during the war would take men across to the various factories.
      Looking at the river now people cannot imagine just what a hub of commerce it once was with its coal staithes its flour and grain mills, its warehouses and engineering works, those industries employed thousands of people and made Stockton the place it is today.


    • The reasons for people not commuting by road between Stockton and Middlesbrough in the mid to late victorian period are quite complex.
      A road linking Stockton and Middlesbrough,via South Stockton,was opened in 1858.The “wilderness road” was a toll road until 1870.At this time the main road transport was horse drawn omnibus.Due to their limited capacity and having to use a toll road the fare would probably have been prohibitive to a lot of working men.
      The first tramway on Teesside commenced in Middlesbrough in 1874 and was horse drawn.By 1879 it had only extended as far as Newport.Here it linked with the river ferries to Stockton.
      The first tramway in Stockton commenced Circa 1882.This only ran from Norton to Bridge Road in Stockton.The two towns would not be linked by tramway until 1897.
      Between 1874 and 1897 there had been a number of schemes put forward to create a continuous tramway the main obstacles had been the old bridge over the Tees and the NER level crossing on Mandale road.A new bridge over the Tees was proposed (the Victoria Bridge) but by the time it opened in 1887 the Stockton tramways were in disrepair.The tramway was put up for sale and purchased by the Imperial Tramways Company Limited,who were to introduce an electric tramway linking Middlesbrough ,Thornaby and Stockton.


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