Mill Street is one of my favourite streets in Stockton and it’s architecture and quaintness never fails to capture my attention although I ignore the modern housing on the south side of the street and wonder ‘how in heavens name’ the planning committee ever gave permission for them to be built in the first place ! The street takes it’s name from the long demolished windmill which once stood at the top of the hill and was one of at least two windmills which stood in Norton, the other being at the top of Billingham Road somewhere near to where the medical centre now stands .
The blue-grey scoria bricks in the road and ornate brick work of the houses and cast drain covers as well as it being well kept all add to the ambiance of the whole street . I always wonder if the building in the rear yard of ‘The George and Dragon’ was once a stable or perhaps a barrel store with it’s high single door being used to off-load a wagon or cart but which is now missing it’s loading arm and hoist and with a partially bricked up arched door in the yard too. Taken 11 May 2017.
Photograph and details courtesy of David Thompson.
I’m not the same David Thompson. I’m David Richard Thompson, and my grandparents, Richard Henry Thompson, and Phoebe Thompson lived in 23 Mill Street from when the houses were first built, around 1902 I think.
Who built the houses was it a speculative builder, I think so because my grandparents always paid rent. When I was a child, opposite was Summerhouse Square, since demolished, presumably for “slum clearance”.
David R Thompson
I love this little street too and have to agree about the modern housing rammed here and there spoiling the pretty and historic village a shame modernisation could not not have been done sympathetically. Sad the windmill was destroyed and not made in to a unique home, like the one (if it is an old mill building?) at the end of Grange Road further down from the vets and the dentist off Norton Road. I think that’s what happened anyway. It was in a state of disrepair and now seems to be repaired hope it a lovely happy family home.
Most of the south side of Mill Street belonged to my gran Mary Bottomley. It was an orchard at the back of her shop. She sold the orchard and garages were built on the land. Later the garages were knocked down and the present day flats built on the site.
As a lad I knew Mary Bottomley and her shop you went into the shop up some steps and the counters were along one side. My mother and Mary knew each other and would stand talking whilst I ate the apple Mary gave me, some people were afraid of her I always found her friendly when I went in on my own.
Many of the Norton Characters, Miss Forster sweets and newspapers on the Green, Mrs Hawes the general goods shop on the Green, Miss Hutton the dairy people. The women ran the shops the men would be in the background somewhere but we never saw them, I can still picture them although it was many years ago.
One name I remember well from Mill Street was Billy Darley who I think although not certain continued to live there. He was always with us lot from around the Green as we played our games in season. He was a bit of a joker even many years later when we met on the bowling greens, he a member of Norton Bowling Club and me of Elmtree BC. Norton was a very compact place and we knew most people around the green and the high street, most now no longer with us, time catches up with us all. At least the wonderful memories of those times are still with me, plus most of the area has remained unchanged.
Frank there were 2 families of Darley’s living in Mill Street. One was Ken Darley who was a wagon wright at the ICI. He had a sister who worked in the Dodds Chain Library in the Village. The other Darley was Alan, a friend of mine. He had a bad accident at the ICI. He was a bricklayer working on the Coke Ovens when he was caught by the rammer, that was in 1961. Both families of the Darley’s were related.
Love the photo of the drain cover. My father worked all his life at Downings foundry, he retired at 67. Thanks for the memory.
Paul, I served my time at Downings iron foundry, worked with Franky Wynn, his son Billy also came to work there, knew both very well, a great place to work at, learnt my trade very well.
Jimmy Irish made most storm grates, Arthur Baily made the gullys, Tommy Metcalf, Denis Jones, me (Decca Casey), Joe Hanly, Billy Wood (a good mate of mine), George Brett, Coremakers, Albert Whritson? Cyril Naisbit, Billy Wheelhouse (spelling ?) Can name all labourers.
My best mate was the late Alan Heyman, David McAbe, Brian Fay, David McLean were apprentices also.
Best place I ever worked, happy memories of the foundry and men I worked with.
Paul if you have any old photo’s of foundry or workmen would you please ask picturestockton team for my email please.
All the best.
David, the heading for the picture is Norton and that is where it is and will always be to me who grew up in Norton when it was a village in its own right and not part of Stockton. I grew up and went to school at the Board in the High Street as did we all then on to High School in Stockton with some of those Boys and Girls. I do love Stockton as a lot of my life is in it but Norton is my first love and I guess will always be so.
Had you seen what was at the back of the square and in the square you would know why it was knocked down and built on. Mr Goldsbrough had his coal yard in the square Dennis was my best friend and theirs was the only house in the square you could call habitable. At a time before the war when jobs were scarce and poverty rife the houses off the main High Street, some one up one down no running water some two up two down again no running water with large mixed families all rented you had to see it to realise the degradation. One boy I played cricket with could not get over the fact I had a bedroom to myself, he had four brothers in one bed and two sisters in the other. That David was what life was like to some. the side of Mill Street that is still there was always what people called the posh side and as with some of the existing cottages in the Yards behind the High Street worth preserving the rest was not.
My Father told me there were three coaching Inns in Norton, the Red Lion was for the road to Hartlepool and on up, the White Swan and the George and Dragon were traffic North to Durham and beyond. There were many Green Lanes both North and South back then, droving and coaching lanes as the whole area was Church lands of the Durham Bishoprics and some still is. Those roads led to the River then the main highway to the South via the North Sea the M1 of its day, the area of Durham and North Yorkshire being the bread basket from Roman times hence the many mills in the area most just memories to us ancients still living.
Norton’s History begins before Stockton though as with most parts of the UK the large industrial area’s took over the surrounding villages and at one time the centre of Stockton was one huge foundry and engineering works, I remember that as I was part of it. Now it is mainly gone and after many shaky starts at last the planners in my opinion have got it right. Norton is much the same as I remember from being a lad apart from becoming one large car park, it still has a good shopping area as it always did, at least the poorest people have good housing and that was needed plus the fact the people have food on the table and that was not always the case for some.
Long may it be so. It gave me and mine a good life and I would never move anywhere else having travelled a lot although never wanting to stay, home was here until the end when ever that may be.
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