14 thoughts on “Stockton High Street

  1. I recall many long walks on a Saturday morning with my mother when I was small – Stockton High Street went on for many miles it seemed. Around 15 years ago I found myself back there due to a circumstance for the first time since 1978 – it was weird because many places I remembered had gone but it also seemed shorter in length, although my legs were now taller!


  2. Anon asks if the dim silhouettes in the far background was the gas works in Stockton. Yes, quite definitely. The smaller building probably contained the coal hoppers. The bigger building, the vertical retorts in which the coal was heated.to about 1000 deg C to produce coal gas or town gas, as it was called.

    The coal was tipped into the top of the retorts and gradually got heated as it descended downwards. Gas came off the top. Coke was discharged at the bottom . It was quite unlike the usual pictures of 19th Century gasworks in which men shovelled coal into small horizontal retorts. But all gas works until the era of steam reforming were awfully smelly and not nice to live next too.


  3. Lindsay House – now itself gone- which replaced the Victoria Buildings c1964 is up and running in the picture, the unlovely flat roofed building on the right hand side. As others have said, mid to later 60s seems a good bet.


  4. The leisurely way in which shoppers are crossing the road, virtually unknown in any other part of Britain definitely puts this in the early to middle sixties. Although the High Street looks fairly deserted, this was not Sunday. There are too many shoppers.

    The cars too point to this sort of date; the Morris Minor Estate; last mark of the Ford Anglia, coming out in 1959. I cannot see a Ford Cortina which is a 1961 vehicle. Another clue are the large number of saloon cars, mostly of the mid fifties vintage, whose bodies were made by deep pressing. They were literally rot boxes, with most cars being junked after about eight years. My guess that the picture dates from 1962-4.

    I would also highlight in the far background, the vertical retorts and coal conveyer of Stockton Gasworks.


    • This was taken, apparently, a few years after I left England for the colonies (tongue in cheek), as a thirty-year-old, and is amongst other favourites pictured, admired, and stored in my archives, courtesy of Picture Stockton.
      Your mention of the Stockton Gas Works reminded me that as the oldest boy in our family (Dad was serving) in the army) I had the sad job of taking our long-lived terrier, Paddy, to the gas works for euthanasia. State of the art? The picture of the small metal gas chamber is forever seared in my mind. I was probably thirteen years old, and could not bear to witness the act.


        • I too took my mams cat to the gas works to be put down. I watched round the door as the man shot my cat in what looked like a small fire but would be a gas oven. The man saw me and said ‘get away’, I was about 9 and wish I had kept the sixpence and let it free which I did the next time and the cat went home. I bought sweets with the sixpence but got walloped when the cat walked in our house. My mother got cats then they got pregnant so unfortunately they had to go to the gas house or be drowned in the kitchen sink which I saw them do to the cats I loved. We in the Garbutt Street area were brought up rough me especially as my father was killed in the war. It was definitely the gas house. I am 80 now and never forgot.


  5. Sorry you feel that way Deb, and I have said that about many places I travelled to going back to Army Bases I had been to before, finding the base the people everything had changed, but one place that was the continuity for me was home, Stockton. I am 88 this month, off and on living in Stockton much of that time and would not move now.
    Having seen the area progress from pre and post war, many things were done on the cheap because that was all the money available now at last the eyesores are gone.Stockton won the most progressive Town category in a recent competition, the riverside is developed, the High Street in my opinion is a lovely place to be and what is not realised unless you get an aerial view is just how green Stockton is.
    My children and Grandchildren brought up in Stockton think it a nice place to live and visit and that could be the difference, even having long breaks away you come back home, the places I said never again to visit were not home.
    Stockton will continue to evolve as we all do, If I live another ten years it will have changed yet again, I for one do not wish to return to the past remembering what it was like, some of us had happy times a lot had misery and poverty, you can never stop progress thank goodness.


  6. Whilst it is understandable that Deb misses the Stockton she knew, it is unavoidable that, for many reasons, things change. From 1947 to 1949 I lived with my family in the top floor flat of the Midland Bank, the building with two chimney stacks on the left of this photo. From the living room window I could see a grand Victorian building opposite. It has been replaced by a flat-roofed, much plainer, modern building that, to my eye, is less attractive. However, looking again at the group of Christmas photos posted on this site in December 2016, Stockton is emerging in new clothes ensuring that it has an attractiveness albeit in a modern style. Nostalgia is like a two-faced Janus, we yearn for what is lost and become blind to the goodness of the new. I would urge us senior citizens that, despite our disappointment about modernity, it is, as the poet Max Ehrmann wrote in his poem, Desiderata, “still a beautiful World.” Take heart Deb and visit Stockton again.

    I left home in 1963, when I was 21, and moved to London. I am looking forward to returning to Stockton this year with my wife, a Londoner born and bred. I am sure she will be pleased with the town where her husband grew up.


    • Roy, In my dog walking days around the area I live with woods fields nice walks, all part of the often unseen fabric of Stockton I met quite a few people who had lived in London, retired, sold the house or flat and come home where the money got them a nice house and pension. As we walked and talked I never met any one wanting to return the general opinion being Stockton had changed for the better. Knowing London reasonably well having relatives down there it was understandable, Stockton even in this day and age has a peaceful feel about it, London and its manic pace of living would never have been for me.
      At ICI, Managers and Engineers dragged kicking and screaming up to Billingham, they probably thought of it as Siberia found Seascapes Hill views and the Lakes less than two hours away plus a lively night life in and around the area, they were then reluctant to leave.
      Travelling on four Continents, something people do now as normal, to us it was the abnormal, those strange sights sounds smells never drove the wish to be back here away, two years in the Desert certainly made me wish for the green fields, the Mill walk the Green, Norton and its leafy High Street, the bustle of the market and mainly the energy of the place.
      It is a true saying, “You can take the person out of Stockton but never Stockton out of the person” I never lost it.
      London Roy is around ten degrees warmer than here, better buy your wife some thermals.


  7. Returned to Stockton today for the first time since my Dad (Brian Surtees) died last January. It is true that “you should never go back”. Stockton has changed and not for the better and my emotions were running close to the surface. I’m glad I returned but sad that I don`t feel the need to anymore…


    • I felt just the same, went back for the first time since the 1970s and felt very sad at the demise of that once vibrant High Street. However, Norton-on-Tees where I went to school has hardly changed, although it looked as if Ragworth near where I lived had been demolished and re-built. Also, the Mile House Pub was no longer trading – shame as I needed a pint after all this reminiscence.


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