My first introduction to Norton was in 1956, my school, Billingham North Junior, walked all the 10 and 11 year pupils to Junction Road to see the Queen during her visit in 1956.
I was so taken with the Green and Duck Pond area I became a frequent visitor.
A couple of years later I bought my first camera, a Houghton-Butcher box camera, my first port of call was to Norton to photograph the Green and High Street, it was then I discovered Norton’s hidden gem, the Almshouses.
Unfortunately I made a complete mess of using the camera and the images were not very good, I still have the negatives but after 60 years they have faded to nothing. Recently I was sent some scans of postcards of the Stockton area and amongst them were a couple of Norton’s Almshouses, I was more than pleased as I have never re-visited them since that first day.
Image and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.
An illustrated talk by Lynne Perks about the Fox Almhouses is being held at Norton Library on Friday 7 June, 2 to 3:30 but numbers are limited. Telephone the library for further details; 01642-528019. The talk is being organised by the Norton History Group as part of Local History Month which has also seen guided walks around Norton and St Marys Church with the almhouses talk being the second one due to popular demand!
My Great Grandmother Rowntree lived in the Alms Houses probably in the 40s. She was the mother of Lena Dick who lived in Norton High Street, closer to the Duck Pond.
My Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob who lived next door to us in Mill Lane Norton moved into one of those houses before the war. Aunt Mary looked after me as a wee lad when Mother was out somewhere and Uncle Bob told me about when he was a long distance Carter moving bricks from the brick works to Cargo Fleet as Middlesbrough grew rapidly.. For a Horses and Cart having only one crossing of the Tees and then on to Cargo Fleet and back would be long distance to them at that time.
They moved into the Alms Houses whilst I was still at Norton Board School in the High Street and Aunt Mary would be standing in the Garden there waiting for me coming out of school I always got a glass of Herb beer and some Chocolate Digestive biscuits a real treat.
To them the Alms Houses were heaven, I remember three rooms and they had a Caretaker looking after their welfare and the bonus of being next to the shops in the High Street, they were free of rent at last and the small pension they got went further than it had done in Mill Lane, Dad made sure they always had fresh food from our garden and plenty of Bacon. (With the latest scare about eating bacon I wonder how we all lived so long?)
We knew them as the Fox Alms Houses and they were also known as the Hospital of God so I assume they were run by the Church although J.H. Fox was a local Brewer in the High Street.
They had a rough life until that move but at least their last years were in comfort, I missed them both and have only good memories of them and the times i spent with them in those lovely bungalows.
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We were walked from Billingham South for the same visit and stood on Norton High Street to watch the Queen go by.
I moved to Norton in 1946 when my father was demobbed from the RAF. I started at Norton Board school and walked past the Duckpond every day. THE air raid shelters were still in the High St. We lived in Northumberland Grove and I love it there. I remember the Queens Visit in 1956 the year I left Richard Hind School to go to sea in The Merchant Navy.
I was only 9 in 1956 and some in our class would have been only 8 but we were taken too. (Unless she came again within the next 2 years.) I don’t remember the almshouses, only falling over Judith Allison’s foot (my fault – not hers!) and having to write a composition about the day afterwards.
Patricia (known at school as Pat, which I hated) née Buttle
Many thanks for that information, it looks as if the whole of the junior school must have walked across to Norton, close to 400 pupils wandering along Cotswold Crescent, over the railway crossing, along Station Road and across the Billingham by-pass, over Billingham Beck by the little concrete bridge and up to the Green in Norton, it must have been a terrific task for the teachers and we must have been a hardy lot as we had to make the return journey.
I remember standing with my little paper flag for what seemed like hours, then being taken back to school without actually seeing anything of the Queen, I just waved my flag when a cheer went up.