St Johns Crossing, late 1960s

I found this photograph in my late brothers effects, written on the back are the words ‘St Johns Crossing, Stockton-on-Tees in 1968’, I am not familiar with Stockton as I lived and worked mainly in Middlesbrough and didn’t visit Stockton very often, also I have lived abroad since the late 1970s, I do remember the flour mill but not the rest of the area shown in this picture.

Photograph and details courtesy of Jerry Clarke.

15 thoughts on “St Johns Crossing, late 1960s

  1. I remember my days of being a Guard with British Rail, and shunting the yard which was known as South Stockton and the trip from Thornaby Tees Yard was known as the “South Stockton Pilot”, one ran at about 06.30hrs in the morning to deliver and shunt parcel and coal traffic which ran overnight to Tees Yard for South Stockton, the other ran at about 15.30, to South Stockton again to deliver incoming traffic, but this afternoon turn’s main purpose was to shunt and collect parcel traffic for different parts of the country and to take it to Tees Yard for it awaiting train services, at Christmas time this Pilot turn was very busy with box wagons (van fits) full of what could have been goodies.


    • Looks like it is the Bridge Hotel, I assume the Union Flag is on Thornaby Town Hall. The white gable end in front of the Bridge Hotel will be the Alexandra Hotel.


  2. Well-deserved praise is merited for this lovely old photo, I recall J Smiths timber yard and offices was directly opposite the railway crossing with the famous ‘Dole office’ to the right and, over the road, Stockton Council bus shed. If you wanted to take the shortcut to the Town Hall you had to walk north alongside the railway line shown then 440 yards later, you’d be passing by the two ship unloading cranes which stood on the dockside both located at the riverside bottom of Finkle Street. I cannot see the Monumental Masons showroom and garden in this photo so must assume it had been demolished. I can remember the Clevo Flour Sign, and when the flour mill burnt down, my Uncle Bob Wilson (who I am named after) was the 1930s manager there, I recall that the flour mill roof was popular with an hundred or roosting feral pigeons which nested at night under Victoria Bridge, which made an ideal nesting place for them.

    I was once pushing a wheel barrow over the bridge from Thornaby to Stockton, it was heavy and overloaded and I, a boy of 10 perhaps was unable to control it and it collided with a parked car and tipped up, gathering everything together quickly I had to load it up again and scarper before the car owner appeared. I was taking my mother’s market stall goods to Stockton Market for her, she sold second hand clothes from an hired Stockton market stall near the Market Cross, this was an early morning job I did twice a week for her on Wednesdays and Saturdays, whilst she took the ‘O bus there in style.

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    • Looking at the c.1900 25″ O.S. map which shows the tram tracks on Bridge Road, this must have been an interesting crossing at the time with tramlines crossing railway lines. Pity the poor signalman who had to find a gap in the traffic in order to open the gates for trains to and from the quayside, with trams whizzing up and down. I remember the crossing well in the 1950s when walking between one Grandmothers in Railway Street to the other who lived in the end house (No.52) on Thornaby Road. North Shore Branch and entrance to Stockton Shed from Railway Street and overlooking the four track bridge over the River from the back bedroom at Thornaby Road, with the half-hourly Darlington to Saltburn service and freight trains queuing to get into Newport Yard. I had it good during Summer holidays spent in Stockton, a very busy crossing with road traffic at that time too.


    • If the Monumental Masons business was still there, it would be just out of shot on the left, it was next-door to the “?..son ?” premises shown.


  3. Jerry can I add my thanks for posting such an unusual view of Stockton. This urban landscape does not appear on any other photos on the Picture Stockton website, which makes it all the more special. The view is particularly interesting to me as my father worked in the offices of this railway yard in the 1960s, when this photo was taken, and would have been familiar with this view.


  4. Thank you for this magnificent view with the Clevo Flour Mill in prominence. My wife to be worked briefly at the mill shortly after the WWII ending as a late-teen shorthand typist, but even outside the mill, the dust affected her breathing enough to force her to seek employment elsewhere. Wasn’t the mill owned at one time by the Rank (the big movie producer) organization?.
    Thanks again for a great and memorable picture that is archived for my sixty-year-old son – it’s not quite his as yet!


  5. Lovely well-coloured shot, this. Lots of fading memories from my ‘salad days’ as a lean, long-haired technical officer on British Rail – then working in the Area Engineer’s wooden office on the east end of Thornaby station (1967-71) and attending “tech”… In those days when not out on the track, we’d often walk over St. John’s crossing to have a “Chinese” or “Greek” meal. (“Such fun!”) [Please note: The Stockton and Darlington Railway of 1825 was very far indeed from being the world’s first-ever line of metal rails. Read “Tomlinson’s North Eastern Railway” and countless others.]


  6. The railway lines ran across the road near the Victoria bridge and served the maritime traffic along Stockton riverside – mostly timber ships from Scandinavia. Next to the crossing – to the South was the Stockton Corporation bus depot and to the North railway sidings, An interesting event in the 50s occurred when a shunting incident resulted in a truck being pushed past the buffers and into the tall brick wall on Bridge Road – demolishing it. Can’t recall if there were any casualties.


    • I think one person was killed during the incident you mention. I used to cycle across there every day on my way to work in H W labs in the 50’s. Very evocative picture.


  7. That picture was taken from the loading dock of the goods yard storage sheds. A clear picture of the signal cabin on the St John’s crossing, Head Wrightson’s Office, the old ticket office and Bridge Road. It was all closed down as the goods yard moved to Thornaby Marshalling yards.
    When on long leaves I always did a few days HGV driving for an agency and I was driving for the railway a Mechanical Horse Scammel. Each time I went into that goods yard I was amazed how disorganised it was, racks and shelving seemed scattered about in no order and the fork lifts doing miles when yards would have covered it. I asked the Foreman why they did not manage them better with straight lines so they could run off the dock to the racks. A year later I was on the job again and it was organised as I had said, someone got money for a common sense suggestion?
    I hardly recognise that area now it seems to be all roundabouts, change happens I suppose.


  8. What a fantastic colour photograph showing where the first railway line (owned by the Stockton to Darlington Railway Company) was laid in 1822. There’s the booking office just right of centre at 48 Bridge Street. Thornaby railway sheds in the distant top left and Thornaby Town Hall to the right of that. In between of course would have been Thornaby railway station, a beautiful old building knocked down to make way for the grand and ornate (NOT) bus stop if you can call it that even, where you can get a good shower waiting for a train. The ravages of progress have almost obliterated this site as well, and I believe that all that’s left of the booking office is a belatedly put in place plaque. I used to walk across Stockton bridge from Thornaby just about everyday for several years as a kid when visiting my Nanny in Thornaby in the 60s. Passing by I could never understand why such an important place (The first Railway Line ever in the world folks!) was left to just stand there anonymously for decades. The Councillors for the area should be ashamed of themselves for almost getting rid of such a landmark. Yes the booking office was sat disused for years, at one point I think it was a hostel, but even though it was a Grade II listed building it got demolished anyway to make way it seems for that great stupid multi lane roundabout that’s part of the one way system that overwhelms the outskirts of the town. Nowadays this building and the railyards etc would have been renovated and made ‘pride of place’ along with the church remains that were situated nearby (now a superstore?) and John Walker Square, which has now gone downhill, (In memory of John Walker Inventor of the match) touted as a place to visit on the Stockton-on-Tees tourist trail. Us Teessiders ought to be more proud of our heritage and the visionaries that made Stockton and Thornaby what they look like today should be…. well I’ll let you decide. OK rant over!


    • The building that is sometimes thought to be the S&DR booking office has not been demolished, it is still a hostel that has been doing good work for forty years.
      I agree that the old Thornaby Station should never have been knocked down, but the present facilities are adequate, booking office with helpful staff, a kiosk for refreshments, toilet etc.


  9. This photograph appears to have been shot from the former British Railways Goods Yard which was situated at the bottom of Parliament Street and Bridge Road and overlooking the historic Stockton to Darlington Railway ticket office, with St John’s signal box in the centre. This site is now Halfords. The former unemployment office is the creamy coloured building to the right of centre the site of which is now the Mecca Bingo complex.


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