Portrack and Portrack/Tilery Primary School c1949

Two views of “Old Portrack” taken from the NCAP Scottish Library collection. They date from May 1949. Portrack stayed much the same until the mid-fifties when demolition began.
All that remains is part of St Annes Terrace and the more modern buildings of what, in my time, was called Portrack Primary. They run at about 30 degrees from the left hand corner of the lower picture. The taller buildings, which are at right angles to these, were demolished in the eighties, but there is a colour picture on Picture Stockton. These housed the infants, aged 5 to 7. The modern buildings covered the ages 8 to 11, when we would do our 11 plus.
The buildings surrounding the smaller playground belonged to the nursery classes and the school dinner canteen. They were temporary wartime structures, I believe and have now gone. The school dinners were appalling, but we nursery children were forced to eat it.

Details courtesy of Fred Starr.

11 thoughts on “Portrack and Portrack/Tilery Primary School c1949

  1. I went to Portrack primary school at the age of five, then transferred to Tilery Road school junior and then to the seniors until I was thirteen when I went to Fairfield Secondary School until I left school at 15 years old.

    Mixed memories as Tilery was single sex education and the teachers were not the best or fairest, especially to the kids in the bottom half of the class or were struggling with their work, the exception were the specialist teachers, P.E.I., woodwork and music.

    To be fair, it must be soul destroying trying to encourage pupils who won’t or can’t take in the workload, the senior classes were 1 to 6 and one lad was so far behind he remained in S1 until he left school at 15!

    Some of the lads were known to have missed classes because they were in juvenile court!


  2. Great Photographs to bring back good memories of a fantastic place to live. I lived in 3 the villas Portrack Lane and i have researched all my family History which shows that as far back as early 1800s my Grandfathers and Grandmothers where mostly all work migrants that came from Ireland and Wales to settle in the steel industrial area of Portrack…
    Portrack Lane was a very strong community where people looked after each other no matter who or what you where, shame that things have changed so much. .


  3. I was at Tilery School 1966 to 1969. I was just 4 when I started in January 1966. Does anyone have any memories of the school then?
    I remember the head mistress Miss or Mrs Smelt.


    • Frank, where did you live in Portrack? Did you know any of the Barrett Street crowd? There is a picture of Watson Street on Picture Stockton, by the way


  4. Thanks Geordie 78 about reminding me how to spell Mr Burr’s name.

    The “black path”, that you used, as this footpath was called in our house, formed a big right angle, running from the end of St Annes Terrace along to a set of concrete steps that was the entrance to Tilery. As you say the first part ran along the boundary of Portrack Primary, then turning right along side a huge set of allotments and crudely built sheds

    I wonder if you remember the set of concrete water troughs, that had been built to provide water troughs for fire fighting during WWII?

    This right angled foot path was an official route. So much so that there was a gas lamp at the corner of the right angle. There was also another one near the Tilery steps. On foggy nights, when walking along the path, between the lamps, one would be enveloped in pitch darkness. So terrifying I would run, to get back into sight of the lamps


  5. I attended this school during the period 1950-55 before moving on to Tilery Boys school. The walk from Portrack to Tilery was along the path by the school as the open land shown in the photos had been fenced off. During my time at the school we knew it as St Anne’s, now it’s called Tilery Primary.
    The coalman that Fred Starr mentioned was certainly well known in Portrack and I understand that the spelling of his surname was Burr.
    I finally moved away from Stockton in 1963.


  6. I hope that Laura Balogh was able to fit in okay at Portrack. But I have a related tale about a Hungarian refugee, which is very sad. I met him, very briefly, after starting work at Dorman Long. He was in a gang of labourers working in the coke oven and sinter plant area.

    His English was not very good and when he arrived in England he ended up in Middlesbrough. He then went along to the Labour Exchange to get a job. He tried to explain that he was “an engineer”, meaning that he was a professional man, with qualifications. But in this country somebody who is an engineer, was, and still is, to some extent, regarded as a blue collar worker wielding a spanner or a screwdriver. This is how this man ended up as a labourer.

    He asked me if I could do something for him, but as someone who had just started work at Dorman Long, I really did not know who to ask. And I myself did not really understand, at the time, what the term “engineer” could mean. I have often thought about him and wondered what then happened.

    I hope that your parents had a better time.


  7. I went to pre-school nursery in the Portrack school show here, 1961 – 62.
    We lived in Trent Street, so we walked along Norton Rd, through Tilery, and past the allotments.
    Was to help me learn English before I started infant school at St Joseph’s in Norton, as my parents were recent Hungarian refugees who were still learning English themselves.


  8. Thought it would be worth reminding those who lived in Portrack that Tommy Bear, the small holder and local coalman, had his place at the end of St Annes Terrace. This is the group of sheds, mainly made out of tarred corrugated sheeting, that can be seen in the bottom left hand corner of the lower picture. His cart for carrying coal was hauled by horses. In the summer he would graze the horses on the field between Portrack Primary School and Blacketts Brickpit. I would sometimes take stale bread to the horses to feed them. No supervision of course!

    Notice the diagonal track across the field, which led to a short flight of steps down to Tilery. This was a short cut much shorter than the black path that ran past the school. In the early fifties Tommy Bear fenced off the whole area and turned it into a small holding. I always wondered if it was legal. Are any of the Bears still in business?


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.