The Last Billingham Urban District Council c1967/68

I was living in Billingham when this the very last Urban District Council was disbanded and replaced by the Teesside authority. All of these names and all of these faces will be mostly forgotten, the only member of this council I remember is Jim Tatchell and that is only because he lived around the corner from me. The one person I do remember was Fred M Dawson who was clerk to the council from 1947 to 1967 and he isn’t in this picture.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

16 thoughts on “The Last Billingham Urban District Council c1967/68

  1. This photo is a sobering reminder of the days when Billingham ranked as one of Britain leading small new towns. The original new towns in the United Kingdom were intended to relocate populations in poor or bombed-out housing following the Second World War. While many small new towns have been successful with Billingham being a leading example, most are now experiencing major problems. The new towns are no longer new and many of the then quickly built low cost houses have reached the end of their design life. Many were run by small local authorities which did not have the financial capacity to resolve their increasing problems.

    Leading new towns include: Welwyn Garden City, Dagenham, Stevenage, Newton Aycliffe, Basildon, Corby, Telford, Runcorn, Skelmersdale, Redditch, Washington, Cramlington, Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Northampton, Warrington, Telford, East Kilbride and Cumbernauld. In the main these corporations were later disbanded and their assets, wealth and tax bases split between local based authorities. This exemplary team of former Billingham town Councillors deserve great credit, respect and praise from all the residents of Stockton and Teesside.

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  2. During the period 1970-73 I was undergoing teaching training at a college in Reading. We did a field trip, based in Scarborough and during that trip visited Billingham. During that visit we had a talk given to us by a senior official of Billingham Council. Certainly from the tone of his talk he was not happy at the formation of the Teesside Authority, late in 1974 to become the County of Cleveland. I guess a lot of the ordinary people on both sides of the River Tees didn’t agree with the changes. Such is the work of politicians who think they know better than the people they have been elected to serve.


    • The original photo was in a cardboard mount with the title at the top and the names across the bottom, the photo was taken by Forrest Wompra, the mount has been cut away, probably because the names across the bottom were not very clear when shown on screen, one of the contributors mentioned the leftmost person in the front row was Harry Davies, the names say he is at the extreme right of the front row, my wife’s father knew Harry Davies very well as they were both on the Folklore committee, I never met Harry Davies but my wife thinks the caption is correct and Harry Davies is at the far right of the front row, it is 50 years ago and memory is not always reliable.

      The location of the photo seems to be some sort of sports hall, because of the markings on the floor, possibly the Forum.

      Back Row:-

      G.G.Bott (Forum Director), A.Dodds (Park Superintendent), R.Love (Senior Public Health Inspector), Cllr.R.Hillery, Cllr.W.H.McQueen, Cllr.J.R,Crowden, Cllr.G.W.Birtwisle, Cllr.V.B.Marley, Cllr.F.Moutrey, Cllr.G.H.Sawdon, Cllr.F.Simpson.

      Middle Row:-

      E.Shaw(Engineer), H.H.Wright(Treasurer), Cllr.S.Allott, Cllr.K.L.Bates, Cllr.E.A.Bassett, Cllr.R.Duncan, Cllr.W.Allen, Cllr.E.Wood, Cllr.A.J.Arnold, Cllr.J.Williams.

      Front Row:-

      R.W.Southwood(Deputy Clerk), Cllr.W.Crossley, Dr.L.R.Benham(Medical Officer), Cllr.A.W.McDonald, Cllr.J.A.Tatchell(Vice Chairman), Cllr.C.D.Turnbull(Chairman), J.Willis(Acting Clerk), Cllr.L.A.Watson, Cllr.F.Mitchell, Cllr.J.V.Kane, Cllr.H.L.Davies.

      I remember Mr Dodds being the park superintendent right through the 1950s, his name was on the board outside the parks department plant nursery near to where Braemar Road is now situated.


      • Thanks so much for posting this photo which, as you say, includes my father, Albert Dodds (back row, 2nd from left). We lived in Guildford Road and the plant nursery was just at the end of the road – very handy if you’re the parks superintendent!


  3. I was taught by him and headmastered (if that’s good English) by Harry Davies at the “South Modern”. He’s the only one from the picture I recognize.


  4. I think lawrence Watson is 7th from left middle row. He was an independent councilor, and lived just up Roseberry Road from me. He always called to pick my Mother and Father up to take them to vote, when the local council elections were on during the 1950’s and 60’s.


  5. I don’t know which one Jim Tatchell is but I knew his son, David, who married a schoolfriend of mine, Jennifer Adams, at about the time this photo was taken.


    • Jim Tatchell is fifth from left on the front row and to the chairman’s right. Chairman or Mayor? He was also the Mayor of Stockton in 1976-77.
      I presume that Dawson House is named after Fred Dawson the council clerk? In that case is John Whitehead after whom the park is named on the photo too?


      • John Whitehead was the first clerk to the council, he took office when the council was formed in 1923 and was still the council clerk when he died in 1948.

        Frederick Maddick Dawson replaced him, his name appeared on of the cast iron signs that were scattered around Billingham, they were always along the lines of “NO CYCLING” “By Order Fred M Dawson (Clerk To The Council)”, they could be found on footpaths such as the one to the “Tin Lizzie” bridge or in children’s playgrounds prohibiting over 12 year olds, such as the one on the corner of Cowpen Lane and Greenwood Road, needless to say most of these prohibitions were ignored.


  6. Since web links often break or the page disappears, I think it appropriate to post the article here:

    TRIBUTES have been paid to Harry Davies MBE, a former headmaster, councillor and mayor who has died aged 77.

    Mr Davies, described as “Mr Billingham” and a man who made a huge difference to his home town, succumbed to an infection and died in hospital on May 8 (2008).

    The one-time leader of the Conservative group on Stockton Council was also a would-be MP, member of Billingham’s regeneration board and guiding light of Billingham International Folklore Festival.

    Billingham optician Gil Smith met Mr Davies during a campaign to save the Billingham Technical College site. He said: “I was saddened to hear of the death of Harry Davies – a man I always thought of as Mr Billingham.

    “Headmaster, councillor and mayor – what a contribution he made to all our lives. I am sure many people will have memories of this clever, quietly spoken, erudite man who gave so much to the town.

    “I would just like to share one memory; at the public inquiry into the relocation of Billingham Technical College and the proposal to build a supermarket on the site there were three advocates. A barrister represented Stockton Borough Council and a top barrister represented Morrisons Plc.

    “Harry spoke on behalf of the people of Billingham and never suffered in comparison to the learned gentlemen – in fact on most days he outshone them with his forensic mind and his unique knowledge of Billingham. He did a wonderful job and the supermarket was never built.”

    Mr Davies, a former head at schools in Stillington and Ragworth, was mayor of Stockton between 1989 and 1990. Cllr Ken Lupton, leader of Stockton Council, said: “Harry Davies served the council with honour. He did his bit to make Stockton a better place.”

    Mr Davies was also a former chairman of Billingham Synthonia Football Club.

    Stockton North MP Frank Cook is due to speak at Mr Davies’ funeral at St Cuthbert’s Church, Billingham on Monday.

    He said: “Harry has left a wonderful legacy – an example of what public service should be all about, a willingness to work with everyone, regardless of party politics.”

    Many thanks to Gazette Live for keeping the news archives.


    • Not really Martin, I believe Billingham council were out voted by the rest of the municipalities in the area, who all wanted to get their hands on the taxes paid to Billingham by I.C.I. If I remember correctly Billingham was in the process of extending what we call the Town Center, building the Art gallery, Forum etc. Just before it all went through, Billingham built the plan they wanted but only a couple of feet high knowing that Teesside Council would have to complete it. A sneaky move that worked, but I always figured you had to be sneaky to be a Politician whether Municipal or National


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