Billingham Green, As I Remember It c1960s

This photograph of Billingham Green was taken from the small road that ran down to the Methodist Central Hall, since demolished. Out of sight to the right of the photographer was a small triangle of grass with a large “conker” tree in the middle of it, a magnet for small boys in the “conker season”.

Behind the tree was a small row of shops which included Maddox’s pet food shop, Star Boot Repairs and Radio Relay, this was the 1950s radio equivalent of cable television. Also off to the right was the beginning of Station Road, in the 1950s two of the shops just round the corner in Station Road were Menhennents DIY shop and Bill Beatties sports shop, both of whom relocated to the new Town Centre in the 1960s.

In the photograph to the right is the Smiths Arms public house, this looks very similar to this to this day, the newsagents was always known as “Dickie Smiths” I have noticed that there are two vending machines to the left of the shop, the bigger looks to be a cigarette machine, the other could be either chewing gum or chocolate, both icons of the early 1960s.

This area and its surroundings were the main shopping centre during the 1950s, Station Road stretched along to the main Post Office passing Uptons on its way, on Belasis Avenue was the big Stockton Co-operative Society store always known as “Billingham Stores” and along Mill Lane there were a number of shops starting at Ben Fords barber, located under the Picture House and finishing at The Mill Press, there were also shops on South View and on the Green its self.

Saint Cuthbert’s Church is just behind the shops in the photo, the lych gate is slightly to the left of the shops. Whilst Billingham Green isn’t as photogenic as Norton Green it is still a very pleasant place.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

23 thoughts on “Billingham Green, As I Remember It c1960s

  1. I’ve posted this again, as last time I forgot to mention, my Wife’s maiden name was Holdaway
    John Derek Heatley on August 29, 2018 at 10:35 am said:
    My wife, & her family, lived in No.1 Station Road, Large White House, just after the Smiths Arms, House was called ‘The Hollies’… We met in 1968, we’re still going strong today…


  2. Bruce Coleman – re your message on ‘Billingham Green’.. I note you mention ‘Star Boot repair’… My late mother in law Anne Wood worked there, probably part time around 1960 ish. Can you give any details. I always thought it was along the row of properties now overlooking a small car park nr Smith Arms – none of which exist now. Am I wrong?


    • Hello

      You are right about the location of the shops, they ran from Station Road toward the Methodist Central Hall, I think there were four shops, the first on the corner at Station Road was Maddox’s, they sold pet food, there was a Maddox’s in Stockton that sold animal feed for larger beasts such as horses as well as pet food, I can’t remember what the second shop sold but I think the third shop was the Star Boot Repair, the last premises housed the Radio Relay distribution centre, I was always fascinated by the huge rack of valves and other mysterious bits and pieces that glowed.

      There was a small triangle of grass outside of the shops with a very large “Conker” tree in the middle of it.

      The shops faced the Black Horse across the Green.

      The row of shops was known as North Row, in the early twentieth century it consisted of ‘Workmen’s Cottages’, built in the Victorian era, they were replaced by the shops around about the early 1920s.

      I believe there is another shot of North Row on this site which shows the old Maddox shop boarded up, but I can’t find it.

      This image shows North Row in 1929, this was before the Methodist Central Hall was built.


  3. I was born at No 33 The Green, many memories of playing on the Green, can still recall the family’s of Briggs, Atkinson, Deagans, Botcherby’s “headmaster” farmer Lol Foster. went to Chapel Rd the onto the big school St Cuthberts


  4. The Hollies was the home of the Gilhespy Family in the 40’/50′ Gilhespy ran the dairy over the road next door to Butcher Allison (possibly the shop where Bill Beatties was). Gilhespy’s delivered their milk from a pony and trap laden with bottles and metal milk churns. The business was bought by Donaldson’s of Grove Hill, M’boro and eventually I think it was taken over by Northern Dairies. When Mr Gilhespy sold the business, he had a house built on Wynard/Thorpe Thewles road. He called it Mickle Hill. I think he raised pigs and hens for the table. I visited there a couple of times as my work colleague – whom I was friendly with – married one of the Gilhespy daughters.


    • Eddie Wood
      I wonder if the Brian Sigsworth who posted a comment on 18.9.18 used to live at 9 York Crescent along with 5 siblings? Joy, Peter, Ann, Leslie. Can’t remember another name. Perhaps there were ONLY a total 5 of you. I lived at 6 along with my late brother, Ron. He died young at the age of 43. I however am still around at 83, cycling and playing serious table tennis. No, I haven’t led a blameless life. It’s the GOOD who die young.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Eddie. So nice to hear from you. I’m that same Brian Sigsworth From 9 York Cres., Your brother Ron and me were close friends at the ages of 6 through to leaving school. I often wonder about you all in York Cres., Roy is the brother of mine that you possible didn’t know. He was the youngest. Really good to see your still cycling. I had to stop doing that a few years ago. But I’m still walking and at the gym 3 times a week.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t know how to get to these sites except by accident. Nice to hear from you Brian. Peter was my biggest friend in your family. Is he still around? I once went to his house further down York Crescent, when my mother was still there. He gave me a clump of day lilies and their descendants are still in our garden in Wellingborough. I’m still cycling but it gets harder. This is a hilly place and the 21 gears are often put to use.. I married a second time in 1990 and we’re here because a daughter of Alison’s and grandchildren live a few miles away. My youngest daughter lives in Leicester and my eldest and her youngest daughter are temporarily living in Durham, but their home is in southern Germany, where my daughter has lived for more than 30 years. post a reply,if you can.


  5. You brought back a lot of memories with this post Bruce. I do remember the conker trees on the green. I also went to the Boys Brigade in the hall behind the Baptist Church, before leaving to go to Wolviston Scouts. Olive Atkinson lived in one of the houses just to the right of the Church, she must have taught hundreds of kids in the area to swim.When we used to go to the Baths with the school for swimming lessons she was the instructor. I don’t know if she was employed by the School or Billingham Baths.
    I rented the Church Hall once and put on a dance in1964/5 as a fund raiser for our Scout Troop, I booked The Blue Caps, I used to work with Mike Kemp at Head Wrightson in M’boro so he gave me a deal.
    I delivered papers for Dickie Smith on the green and also for his Brother in law, Stan Govern who had the Newsagents up by the Post Office. There was a cafe ( Half Moon I think ) next to Dickie Smiths that sold the worst Hot Dogs.
    Do you remember the entrance to the Picture House a little way down Mill Lane, if you went in that way you came into the place near the front row. Back then I think there was only three Movie ratings, U, A and X, if it was rated A a child had to be accompanied by an adult, we used to stand outside waiting for somebody to come along and say ” will you take me in mister ” if it was rated A and we wanted to see it. Most saturday Nights Mr and Mrs Blakelock who lived down Mill lane would come along and take any body in who was waiting.
    Further down was Deans they sold almost everything, bikes, electric appliances, tools and lots of toys.Benny Ford the barber was there too, I hated going to him when I was a kid, he made you stand behind the chair, and when he wanted you to turn your head he didn’t ask you, he just slapped you on the side of your head so you turned it in the direction he wanted. He turned me off haircuts for life.
    There was also a Bank, I think it was Barclays, and when I delivered bread and groceries for Walter Wilsons near the station the manager gave me a big brown bag to drop off at the Bank on a Saturday, I threw the bag in the basket with the bread orders and off I went doing my deliveries on the way, and leaving the bag in the basket as I went into the houses. The bag of course was the stores takings. Now imagine doing that these days.
    As Norman Kidd said, Happy Days


    • Hi Ian
      We are back from our travels and yes I do remember everything you mentioned excepting the Boys Brigade and the Scouts, I wasn’t in either, the manager of Billingham Picture House lived in our street opposite to the phone box, he knew many of the kids running around our area, he used to turn a blind eye to me opening the fire door under the screen to let my two younger brothers into the cinema for free, if you streamed about ten kids in he would send you packing, he was well aware of the shortage of money in the 1950s so one paying and two getting in free was fine by him.

      I have a few Billingham 1st Boys Brigade photos from the 1950s, contact me directly and I will send them on to you, they are possibly before your time but you never know.


  6. Yes happy days indeed. I walked many times across the Bottoms to Billingham from Norton Green. We used to visit the Nichols family of Coniston Crescent. Norman Nichols worked at ICI wages Dept and had a daughter called Margaret. Her Mother was called Auntie Mag, and her maiden name was Halliday from Wolsingham Weardale. The luxury was a bag of peanuts for the walk across, then a nice chat with all the Nichols family. Who remembers when ice scatting was a normal event in the winter months, most people had wooden ice skates with a metal blade. Not posh like todays but those days of skating on the Duck Pond and such places have gone forever. I once rode horseback at full gallop with Mr Codling from the corner of Norton Green (White House) on Ragwoth Road to Newstead Farm on Junction Road I was on a small horse called Dot. When Mr Codling set off at full gallop, down went Dots ears and off we went at full pelt. This can never be done again because of the Ring Road cutting across the top of Norton Green. Yes indeed happy days.
    J.Norman Kidd


  7. I lived at 11 West Ave. Billingham from 1939 until 1953 and went to the C. of E. infants school from 1944 until 1947 and then the school on the green. I have many nostalgic childhood memories of this place spending time down at Billingham Beck, which was a short walk for us down Billingham bank, going to the pictures at the Picture House on a Saturday afternoon and just after the war buying 2 ounces of sweets from the sweet shop along from the Picture house, with a coupon from the ration book. Opposite the sweet shop was a fish and chip shop which was a favourite place. I remember a large circular object on the green shortly after the war that had water in it and I filled my cap with stones to throw then in and the cap went in with them. My Grandmother lived on Norton High Street and we walked across the ‘bottoms’ past the old mill and sand pots to Norton Green. Wonderful memories!


  8. I lived in Cumberland Cres. near the old Library. Used to go to the KD club next door to Mrs. Rains sweet shop. Great times in Billingham in the 60s, working and living.


  9. I remember Billingham Green very well great pics also I went to school on Billingham Green in 1943 since demolished I remember Miss Liverseed, Miss Bateman and Miss Margots. I suspect Miss Leverseed was perhaps an escapee from Nazi Europe
    alan hutchinson


  10. I remember The Green well. I was in the 1st Billingham Boys Brigade, based in the Methodist hall, in the late 1950’s. Regular matinees at the picture house on Saturday afternoons during the 1950’s. When I was a young child, shopping meant a bus ride from Roseberry Road to the Green. My mother always said to the bus conductor “Billingham please”, even though Roseberry Road was in Billingham, but to her Billingham was the shops on Station Road, and the Green. The Coop was regular stop, and so was Uptons. Bill Beaties was where my Father bought my bikes for Christmas. I always remember a little sweet shop on Station Road, run by two elderly ladies. It was the only place open on Sunday afternoons, to buy sweets, after leaving Boys brigade Sunday service. My mother attended the Church of England school on the Green (now long gone), walking from Beaconsfield Road in Norton. Many years later, the Social club on Chapel Road was one of my regular haunts, especially on weekend nights. Always good entertainment. I left Billingham in 1980 and have only been through the Green and Station Road a couple of times since. Station Road is still recognisable, but the Green has changed completely, although some of the changes had taken place before I left.


  11. Bruce, I also remember as it was, Mother and Father were friends with the Tailors who had lived on Norton Green and Moved to Chapel Road. We would walk down past the Old Mill across Bliilingham Bottoms and up the bank that was Chapel Road, we kids would go on to the green and play. I often wondered because of the big Oak Tree in the middle if it had been a Plague Pit like the one we knew in Bradbury Road just off the Green Norton, they always planted an Oak.
    You could buy all your needs around there at the time with the big Co-op on the corner with a Dance Hall, the Cinema across the road, films changed twice a week.
    It was probably because people walked everywhere, the usual mode of transport being Bike or bus and Mum was not going to load her bags of shopping on a bike so they walked.
    I knew Billingham well as many of my Girl Friends and Dance partners came from there, as you were expected to walk your partners home at the end of the evening, I drew the line at Billingham as you snatched a quick kiss (dad watching with one hand on his shot gun) then walked home again to Norton.
    “Those were the days my boys” they should write a song about it.


    • Frank Mee – the ‘plague pit’ which you mention was off Bradbury Road… I used to pass it regularly as I lived in Roseberry Road. It was indeed a burial place for people who had died of ‘the plague’. As such I think although there was no graves, it must have been either consecrated or just not considered ‘proper’ to dig up bodies for housing! The rest of the road was built probably by Kendrews builders. Bradbury Road was built in the 1930’s but the rest of the estate was post war.


  12. My wife tells me that at the top right hand side of the Bull path that leads down to the arch between two houses in Weardale Crescent, there was a slaughterhouse. It was at the top of a row of very old cottages and it was owned by Allison the butcher. Behind the row of cottages were gardens. My wife was born in, and, until I married her, continued to live in the house on the left hand side of the arch – as you go down the path. When she was a child she heard the shots when animals were slaughtered. At the top of the path, on the left hand side, there were three shops. The first was a shoe repairers with a chiropodist behind it. Next door was an electrical shop with lamps etc, but it changed hands a few times. The next was Warins the Bakers. Then there were two houses and after that you went down Station Road. The row of flat topped houses that are there today replaced the slaughterhouse and the row of old cottages. We were married in St Cuthberts in 1959. The reception was in the Metropole Hotel in Bridge Road at Stockton and a Stockton Corporation bus took the guests there. The bill for the bus was £2.50. When was the ‘Bull’ path given that name? It wasn’t called that when I was courting.


  13. My wife, & her family, lived in No.1 Station Road, Large White House, just after the Smiths Arms, House was called ‘The Hollies’… We met in 1968, we’re still going strong today.


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